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JAZZ ROCK/FUSION

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Jazz Rock/Fusion definition


  1. Jazz Fusion is jazz that is strongly influenced by other styles of music. Jazz fusion is an ambiguous term that provides the first level sub-set down from Jazz. Jazz rock is a sub-sub set from jazz via jazz fusion. The ambiguity comes from an American tendency through the 90's and until now, to freely interchange jazz rock and jazz fusion, when in fact the latter term covers most hybrids of jazz fused with other forms of music. The roots of jazz rock can be traced back to RnB influenced soul-jazz artists such as Les McCann, Grant Green and Jimmy Smith, and young British jazzers such as Graham Bond, Ginger Baker, John McLaughlin, Jack Bruce, Georgie Fame, who were forced to use electronic instruments because the local club's acoustic instruments were reserved for the older established jazz musicians. Probably the first jazz artists that released recordings that mixed modern rock (circa 60s) with jazz were Larry Coryell, Jeremy Steig, Charles Lloyd, The Soft Machine, and The (Jazz) Crusaders. Meanwhile rock artists such as Cream, Grateful Dead and The Jimi Hendrix Experience were getting a lot of publicity and fame with their lengthy improvisations based on blues, rock, psychedelia and some jazz. These rock artists had an impact on Miles Davis who generated a lot of media attention to this new jazz-rock genre with his Bitches Brew album. From there the genre grew and exploded into numerous different directions. One of these directions was brass rock as exemplified by bands like Dreams, Chicago, BS&T and If. These bands combined elements of jazz, rock and classical music with arrangements for brass and woodwinds.

  2. Many other styles of music have been combined with jazz to create fusion including traditional music from around the world, R'n'B, rock, electronic music and pop music and jazz from Africa, Latin America, India and other places. One of the earliest examples of the use of the term fusion comes from the Indo-jazz fusion of Joe Harriott and John Mayer. Some of the more popular early practitioners of fusion included Weather Report and Herbie Hancock's Sextant. A few years later Shakti appears on the scene and expands the boundaries of fusion further, foreshadowing the World Fusion movement of the 90's.

  3. In part Nu.jazz grew out of the British acid jazz scene of the late 80s and early 90s, whilst modern leaders of nu.fusion cite Miles Davis and Jon Hassell as the godfathers of the genre. As the genre began to develop it took on other influences such as world beat/jazz fusion, psychedelic trip-hop, post-rock and mixtures of ambience with modern jazz. The jazz with electronia experiments that Jon Hassell was conducting in the late 80's, with the likes of Eno, were to be a major influence especially on the dance side of nu.jazz, sometimes known as nu.fusion. Three main elements make nu.jazz different from the more traditional jazz (rock) fusion. First of all there is less of an emphasis on instrumental virtuosity in nu.jazz (especially nu.fusion). Second, more use of electronics (especially skilled turntablism) and studio trickery that emphasizes sound textures. Third, nu.jazz tends to use more modern rhythms such as drum'n'bass, hip-hop, post-rock, and various mixtures of world beat rhythms. Progressive nu.jazz artists such as Bugge Wesseltoft, Nils Petter Molvaer and the Esbjörn Svensson Trio (E.S.T.), combine complicated compositions with modern rhythms to create new unheard of soundscapes - while the former two are leaders of nu.fusion, and with more emphasis on jazz playing, EST have been the leaders in straighter nu.jazz. Nu.jazz is loosely connected to other newer jazz fusion genres, particularly the more progressive live, jazz jam bands such as Medeski Martin & Wood or Garaj Mahal. It may seem that the only difference between the two genres is the country the artist is from or what scene they came up through.li>

Only the most progressive of nu jazz, jazz-rock and fusion artists are listed on Progarchives, although accceptability or not here may vary from person to person. All artists have elements of progressive rock in their music (e.g. Jean Luc Ponty, Bill Bruford or David Sancious) or they represent the most forward-looking and progressive element in their genre (e.g. Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock or Weather Report). It should be noted that those many Canterbury jazz rock fusion bands, e.g. Soft Machine, Soft Works, Soft Heap, Soft Machine Legacy, Gilgamesh etc. are to be found under the CANTERBURY heading in Prog Archives.

Dick Heath
John 'Easy Money'
Martin 'Alucard' Horst
(Edition 3.2. Nov 2009)

Current Team Members as at 12/24/14

Evolver (Scott)
Man With Hat (Phil)
Darkshade (Mike)
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Jazz Rock/Fusion Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Jazz Rock/Fusion | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.36 | 998 ratings
KIND OF BLUE
Davis, Miles
4.33 | 1241 ratings
BIRDS OF FIRE
Mahavishnu Orchestra
4.30 | 695 ratings
IN A SILENT WAY
Davis, Miles
4.28 | 657 ratings
ROMANTIC WARRIOR
Return To Forever
4.27 | 933 ratings
THE INNER MOUNTING FLAME
Mahavishnu Orchestra
4.28 | 561 ratings
SPECTRUM
Cobham, Billy
4.25 | 683 ratings
BITCHES BREW
Davis, Miles
4.28 | 262 ratings
WE'LL TALK ABOUT IT LATER
Nucleus
4.27 | 300 ratings
CROSSINGS
Hancock, Herbie
4.23 | 764 ratings
ELEGANT GYPSY
Di Meola, Al
4.26 | 280 ratings
HIROMI'S SONICBLOOM: TIME CONTROL
Uehara, Hiromi
4.23 | 571 ratings
ABRAXAS
Santana
4.23 | 688 ratings
CARAVANSERAI
Santana
4.26 | 249 ratings
LES PORCHES
Maneige
4.24 | 320 ratings
ENIGMATIC OCEAN
Ponty, Jean-Luc
4.29 | 150 ratings
STADACONÉ
Sloche
4.34 | 94 ratings
THE COLOURS OF CHLOË
Weber, Eberhard
4.26 | 200 ratings
TILT - IMMAGINI PER UN ORECCHIO
Arti E Mestieri
4.30 | 131 ratings
SVěT HLEDAčů
Blue Effect (Modrý Efekt)
4.28 | 147 ratings
SVITANIE
Blue Effect (Modrý Efekt)

Jazz Rock/Fusion overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Jazz Rock/Fusion experts team

HALLUCINATION ENGINE
Material
SUDDEN DUSK
However
CYMANDE
Cymande
SUPER FLY T.N.T
Osibisa

Latest Jazz Rock/Fusion Music Reviews


 Пульс 3 / Pulse 3 by ARSENAL album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.17 | 9 ratings

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Пульс 3 / Pulse 3
Arsenal Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by PROGMAN1

3 stars Arsenal are one of those bands who, when they are on they are brilliant, but when they are not they are forgettable. Unfortunately this album, Pulse 3, falls into the latter file. The best way to describe the music on Pulse 3 is perhaps an attempt to sound "New Wave". With that in mind the album is not horrible, but if you are looking for a good example of what Arsenal are capable of, this is definitely not it. There are some interesting moments on this album that sound like the soundtrack to Risky Business, which of course is by Tangerine Dream, so like I said already, it's not all bad.
 The George Duke Quartet: Presented By The Jazz Workshop 1966 Of San Francisco by DUKE,GEORGE album cover Studio Album, 1966
3.00 | 2 ratings

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The George Duke Quartet: Presented By The Jazz Workshop 1966 Of San Francisco
George Duke Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars Better known for his days in the early 70s as the keyboardist with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention on the albums "The Grand Wazoo," "Over-Nite Sensation" and "One Size Fits All" as well as his 1969 collaboration with Jean-Luc Ponty, the California born GEORGE DUKE while never gaining the popularity of artists like Herbie Hancock was one of the premiere jazz-fusionists of the 1970s. While primary associated with the piano and synthesizer, DUKE also mastered the saxophone, flute, bass guitar and trombone but is probably most associated with his keytar synthesizer during his disco and jazz pop years that came later in his career.

DUKE was also quite prolific as a solo artist and released a total of 35 albums before his untimely death at the age of 67 in 2013. While his fusion days would begin with his second album "The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with the George Duke Trio" which was released in 1969, his cumbersomely titled debut album THE GEORGE DUKE QUARTET PRESENTED BY THE JAZZ WORKSHOP 1966 OF SAN FRANCISCO was really his only straight forward jazz release which found DUKE still in hero worship mode before finding his own voice in the changing tides of the jazz world in the late 60s.

THE GEORGE DUKE QUARTET PRESENTED BY THE JAZZ WORKSHOP 1966 OF SAN FRANCISCO emerged from DUKE's collaborations with THE JAZZ WORKSHOP which was a famous jazz club in 1960s San Francisco. The whole project happened somewhat spontaneously while DUKE was studying at The San Francisco Conservatory of Music and while playing at the club one fateful evening was approached by SABA Records owner Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer who wanted him to record an album. After the shock wore off DUKE signed a deal to release one album and this album was a result. The quartet consisted of DUKE solely on piano, David Simmons on trumpet, John Heard on double bass and George Walker on drums.

The album was recorded quickly and pretty much emulates the great John Coltrane during his post-bop years of the early 60s. Despite this late year in 60s jazz, this album sounds more like what was commonplace in the late 50s / early 60s but in all fairness, the whole thing was thrown at DUKE fairly quickly and with no experience or material prepared, the album comes off as a tight- woven yet standard sounding jazz album of the era. The whole album only took six hours to record so in effect this is most likely a live in the studio sort of album where the chips fell where they did. GEORGE DUKE has always stated that this is his weakest album however this is not a bad album by any stretch of the imagine however originally creative it is not either.

Despite the less than earth-shattering performances on this debut, GEORGE DUKE succeeded in attracting the attention he needed to further his career fairly quickly after this album appeared in the jazz circuits. It would take another three years for the Luc-Ponty collaboration to appear but after that a prolific stream of solo albums and Zappa collaborations would keep DUKE busy for the rest of his days on the planet. THE GEORGE DUKE QUARTET PRESENTED BY THE JAZZ WORKSHOP 1966 OF SAN FRANCISCO is hardly the sort of album that historians will salivate over but it does deliver the proper emerging artist perspectives much like Hancock's "Takin' Off." An excellently performed set of six mostly high velocity tracks but unfortunately lacking in any kind of memorable artistic stamp.

 In Search of Mona Lisa by SANTANA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2019
3.02 | 8 ratings

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In Search of Mona Lisa
Santana Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Carlos Santana one of the remaning artists of the 60´s Woodstock festival is very much alive and well.

This 3 track EP (+ 2 edited for radio versions of its first 2 tracks) is as its title implies- In Search Of Mona Lisa (2019), a tribute to the painting which is the source of inspiration for Mr. Santana.

Anyway let me quick tour you through the music of this release, (if you care for the story behind the "making of", read the footnotes on the disc, I myself could not care less).

Do You Remember Me, its first track, is a slow burning evocative and tropical styled song which sets the mood for his love devotion for Mona. To expect something different in his music composition proposals, something he has not done since a long time ago, will be a useless request and he still is a hell of a guitar player and yet he does not abuse his prowess but this song could easily be lost in any tropical music jukebox, if not for the repeating like mantra of Mona Mona Lisa. ***

Track 2 - In Search Of Mona Lisa, is built on Rockier surface in a mid fast pace tempo. As expected composition wise nothing he has not done, on the positive side this song showcases his trademark guitar ability and sound while we get the story of his first encounter with Leonardo´s painting, but to my surprise this track is the weakest of the disc. **

This EP´s complete last track is Lovers From Another Time. A riskier proposal music composition wise, which actually adds symphonic elements and a piano to play alongside his counterpointing riffs and solos in his simplified Fusion/Rock mid tempo instrumental style and actually make it work by walking the thin line between corny ballad and heartfelt performance and coming up more or less untainted. Again to my surprise this one turn out to be the best track of this release. ***/*

3 PA´s stars.

 Violato Intatto by ACCORDO DEI CONTRARI album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.20 | 119 ratings

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Violato Intatto
Accordo Dei Contrari Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by wiz_d_kidd

5 stars I was a one-time listener of Accordo dei Contrari. Literally. I owned one album, Kinesis, which I enjoyed greatly. I sampled others, but none really captured my attention... until now, that is. Violato Intatto seized my attention in a big way. The best way I can describe it is a "guided tour through an ear-candy store". When done poorly (as many less skillful bands do), it results in a mish-mash of unrelated motifs glued together to build a song or an entire album. This album is anything but that. The compositions have thought and purpose. And despite the fact that around each corner lurks many sonically engaging moments, the album presents a consistent feeling and mood throughout. There are wonderful sax and guitar riffs, nicely blended atop repeating foundations that carries each piece forward. The bass and percussion, nicely mic'ed up, present elements of heavy prog. But then there's the guest violin, showing playful, angular Zappa-esque melodies with a nod to RIO. But wait! Female vocals! Beautiful, long drawn-out notes with lovely vibrato and no annoying melisma. And later, there are several passages with an Ozric Tentacles vibe, complete with wobbular synths and Ed Wynn-style noodling on guitar. This album requires multiple listens to fully appreciate it's breadth and depth, and how well everything is coherently presented. I only wish there were more of those lovely vocals and violin!
 Agitor Lucens V by ARCO IRIS album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.29 | 68 ratings

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Agitor Lucens V
Arco Iris Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Arco Iris were, along with Los Jaivas, pioneers of an international scene of South American rock musicians that drew on the heritage of the Andes to inform their work. The scene would blend psychedelic, traditional folk, and prog influences into a volatile mixture, and on this double album the formula turns out to be outright explosive, with some jazz-rock influences creeping in here and there of a Canterbury/Zappa sort of flavour.

The star player here is Gustavo Santaolalla, frontman and main guitarist of the group, though sax-master Ara Tokatlian deserves credit too. As it stands, this would be their last major collaboration under the Arco Iris name; following the completion of this album Gustavo, tiring of the strict demands of the mystical commune Arco Iris lived in (led by their muse Dana), would exit the band. Further departures would follow, and in the long run this would lead to Ara and Dana relocating to the US and taking the group in a New Age/jazz fusion direction.

As it stands, then, Agitor Lucens V finds the original form of Arco Iris at its peak of development.

 Shadows in the Air by BRUCE, JACK album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.12 | 13 ratings

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Shadows in the Air
Jack Bruce Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I'd say this album is pretty average in the solo discography of the ex-CREAM vocalist-bassist and songwriter. Among the 15 tracks there are a few revisitations of old songs such as the Cream classics 'Sunshine of Your Love' and 'White Room' (featuring Eric Clapton), but they actually feel rather lame and unnecessary for a listener remembering the powerful originals so well. The 62-minute album, co-produced by Kip Hanrahan who has also co-written several songs with Bruce, surely wouldn't have suffered from some harvesting. Overall this is slightly blues and Latin flavoured rock. No prog in sight, which is the usual case with Bruce anyway. The list of musicians is long, although most of them appear on a limited number of pieces. For example reeds & brass players are colouring only the short and, in my opinion, uninteresting 'Boston Ball Game 1967'. Other songs I don't much care about tend to be the bluesiest ones such as 'The Angel's Liar', which is the other of the two tracks guesting Dr. John on organ.

'52nd Street' -- not to be mistaken for the Billy Joel song of the same name -- is one of several songs featuring congas to give a (relatively mild) Latin flavour. Gosh, this monotonous song is plain boring. But let's deal with the songs I enjoy more. 'Heart Quake' is a fine low-tempo blues ballad with Jack Bruce's piano in the centre and featuring Gary Moore on guitar. As a composition per se 'Directions Home' is very monotonous but it has a lot of feeling, and the combination of the fast hand-clap rhythm pattern and the meditative nature of the song itself is personal. 'Milonga' is a slow, moody, piano-centred song with a gorgeous emotional effect. The short closing track 'Surge' doesn't seem to have anything else than the vocals and drums (there are two drummers playing on this album and both are present on all tracks) but at least that's a nicely unconventional way to end an album.

Well, how to rate a basically well done veteran musician's album with some great tracks and so many mediocre pieces in the overextended length? Which way to round my 2½ stars? Maybe I'll choose two stars only, as opposed to the sole previous review rating of four stars. This is not a bad album, just a little boring in my opinion.

 Circus by CIRCUS album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.03 | 13 ratings

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Circus
Circus Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Amongst the earliest traces of progressive rock already fully gestated in the 60s alongside the likes of Pink Floyd, Soft Machine and King Crimson were a few smaller but similarly minded acts that didn't quite end up in the history books the same way. One of these short-lived bands was CIRCUS that spent most of the 60s as The Storm Shakers part of the clumsily named Philip Goodhand-Tait and the Stormsville Shakers before changing the moniker in 1967 when Philip parted ways. These days the band is more famous as the first project of saxophonist / flautist Mel Collins who would play on some of the earliest King Crimson albums ("In The Wake of Poseidon," "Lizard," "Islands," "Red").

CIRCUS was a tight jazz-rock band that crafted some high quality musical workouts that mixed the heavier aspects of late 60s rock with the nuances of jazz modulations, folk, pop and psychedelia. Add to that a stellar Latin influenced percussive flair that added an impassioned mix of jazz and ethnic drive to create an innovative melting pot of juicy jazz-rock yumminess. Collins is the star of the show here with sizzling hot sax and flute solos but with the addition of the musical virtuosity of the rest, Kirk Riddle kills it on bass, Ian David Jelfs delivers some excellent blues / jazz guitar workouts while Chris Burrows creates his own tapestry of drumming diversity.

After Goodhand-Tait left to write material for a band named Love Affair, the newly named CIRCUS began to focus less on the pop side of music and joined the ranks of the more experimental progressive bands emerging such as The Nice, Soft Machine, Caravan, Colosseum and the brand spanking new King Crimson. The band experienced some minor success as The Stormshakers and as CIRCUS landed on the Transatlantic record label which began in 1961 as an import label of American blues, folk and jazz to the UK market before signing new talents. CIRCUS found themselves debuting the one and only self-titled album on Transatlantic in 1969 and joined the nascent progressive rock scene.

While CIRCUS crafted a brilliant mix of tracks with uplifting musical performances, the choice of tracks was rather strange. It was customary of the day to include covers but for a progressive band trying to break free from pop influences, CIRCUS took the bold step of including four with the most puzzling decision of beginning the album with a cover of The Beatles' "Norwegian Wood." While this feat that easily could've been an instant death sentence for most, the band pulled it off so extremely well as they not only faithfully nailed the melodic aspects of the song but augmented it with a stealthy jazz improv performance and ample doses of art rock creativity thus essentially making it their own in many ways.

Of the eight tracks, only half were originals written by Mel Collins whereas the other half were covers which included not only the The Beatles but also "Monday, Monday" from The Mamas & The Papas, "Don't Make Promises" from Tim Hardin and a feisty interpretation of "I I B.S." from Charles Mingus. An odd combo effect for sure but somehow saved by the sheer musical prowess of the musicians involved. The album comes off as a rather bizarre mix of genre shifting with jazzified pop rockers existing with calypso-tinged Latin rock, progressive folk and more heavier rock sections. What sounds awkward in writing actually works in practice which is utterly amazing.

The name of the game in the music world is that for every band that made it to the big time possibly 100 did not so while King Crimson and Soft Machine have gone down as pioneers of the progressive rock scene that burst onto the scene, CIRCUS on the other hand has been relegated as a mere footnote in a more detailed study of the era. It's quite unfortunate that despite the band having written material for a second album couldn't make it all work out and soon disbanded leaving their one and only musical artifact a desirable collector's item for hardcore sleuths of vinyl obscurities. It's quite sad that this band didn't experience more success because they clearly had the talent. I usually dislike covers but CIRCUS took four disparately styled tracks and made each of them their own. This album was an unexpected surprise and one that i really think needs more attention.

 Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose by WIGWAM album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.21 | 67 ratings

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Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose
Wigwam Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Of the three "deep-pop" era studio albums that the Finnish prog legend Wigwam made in the mid/late seventies (the other ones being the celebrated Nuclear Nightclub, 1975, and the admittedly uneven but better-than-many-think Dark Album, 1977), this one has always been the least interesting for me. Now it's time to re-evaluate it, thanks to the recent 2-LP reissue by Svart Records. The additional vinyl contains the original mixes (by producer Ronnie Leahy and engineer John Eden) of the 5 songs that Wigwam chose to remix for the album, and four rehearsal tracks recorded in January 1976 in Virgin's Manor studio. This bonus material offers the listener an opportunity to spot the little differences between various versions, but I personally don't get very excited by them. Actually I would've rather had the separate single songs 'Wardance' and 'Tramdriver' which have appeared on the CD reissues. The best thing about this vinyl reissue is naturally the new interview-based liner notes. They are printed (in a font that imitates the slightly smudgy ink of an old typewriter) on the supplementary sheet, while the inner side of the pretty good-looking gatefold sleeve includes the lyrics and other album information.

After the success of Nuclear Nightclub, and with the British recording deal, the gate was seemingly open to the possibility of an international breakthrough. However, not only because of the band's own domestically oriented preferences, things started to go downhill. Even the recording sessions in the Manor weren't very comfortable for them. As bassist MÃ¥ns Groundsroem recalls: "It was interesting to work in England in a quality studio, but I feel we should've continued with our standard concept. The situation and Virgin brought us pressure." According to guitarist Rekku Rechardt "something in Manor killed our creativity. The album was done from a strictly professional standpoint, leaving our own relationship with the material lacking". Indeed the result lacks the fresh breath and the happy aura of Nuclear Nightclub, but still it's very far from being bad. First, the songwriting isn't nearly as uninspired as I thought from my old listenings ages ago, and the production surely has its merits too.

Especially for the lyrics of Jim Pembroke, the album has a dark, pessimistic feel, which however doesn't always concern the music. 'Sane Again' is a short but in a way powerful opener, followed by 'International Disaster' in which dystopic words are combined with light-hearted music. 'Timedance is just a tiny jam snippet to fill the space of the first side. The strongest and the proggiest song is definitely the dark-toned 'Colossus', one of Rechardt's compositions. Some of Pembroke's songs are musically rather mediocre, but sincerely of his own style. The title track has a great bass riff, but despite being the longest (6:34), it's not very progressive. This album isn't memorable, but nor does it have terribly weak songs either. In the end it's a fairly good, albeit short set of prog-flavoured anti-commercial pop. If you like the other two albums of this Wigwam era, perhaps you should have a try with this one too. The gorgeous mock-Medieval cover art of Mats Huldén is a reason in itself to favour the vinyl, whether or not you're having a deep interest in the alternative mixes/rehearsals on the bonus LP.

 David Cross & Andrew Booker: Ends Meeting by CROSS, DAVID album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.00 | 1 ratings

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David Cross & Andrew Booker: Ends Meeting
David Cross Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars This is actually an unreleased album from 2006 which has just been made available, after David and Andrew had met when the David Cross Band were touring with Peter Banks's Harmony & Diversity, and Andrew was drummer for the latter. David and Andrew arranged to meet one evening in October 2006 and recorded the improvisations which have now finally been released on David's own Noisy Records imprint. I first came across Andrew prior to his time with Banks, when he was in the duo Pulse Engine, although these days he is probably best known for his work with Sanguine Hum. But I have always been impressed with his approach to electronic drums and the way they can be so much more than "just" percussion, and somehow he manages to capture both a tribal and a modern feeling to this session. David surely needs no introduction and will always be thought of fondly by many for his time with King Crimson, but he is much more than just a sideman for Fripp, as his work with Dialeto among others will attest to.

Here we have two guys who know there are no limits to what they are doing, apart from time itself, so just continued to bounce ideas off each other and we are lucky now to be able to hear the results. It is avant garde, it is exciting, it is demanding, it is enthralling, and always interesting. Some of the sounds David produces sounds more like an electric guitar than violin, and it is strident and direct. Worthy of further investigation.

 Torrid Zone - The Vertigo Recordings 1970-1975 by NUCLEUS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2019
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Torrid Zone - The Vertigo Recordings 1970-1975
Nucleus Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars NUCLEUS and its frontman, trumpetist Ian Carr (the albums we are now dealing with have both the band name and Carr's name on top of them, in various combinations) were among the leading acts in the British jazz fusion scene in the early seventies. Those listeners that are into the [post-Third] jazz era of SOFT MACHINE, are most likely already familiar with Nucleus -- and if not, in Nucleus they will surely find another band to appreciate. In fact several musicians who had played in Nucleus joined Soft Machine: Karl Jenkins, Roy Babbington, Allan Holdsworth, John Marshall... This brand new Esoteric Recordings release Torrid Zone is a 6-disc (in total 6 h 20 min) box set containing nine Nucleus/Carr albums released by Vertigo in 1970-1975: Elastic Rock, We'll Talk About It Later, Solar Plexus, Belladonna, Labyrinth, Roots, Under the Sun, Snakehips Etcetera and Alleycat.

The 48-page booklet features the album informations and an essay written by rock journalist Sid Smith. Since the chronological continuum of the albums understandably divides many of them into two discs -- one disc having material from as many as three albums -- at least the booklet could have been slightly more systematically edited; for example the album covers are in many cases placed somewhere else, in the middle of the essay. Also I wish, as usual, that the track lengths were marked. Especially when they vary a lot, it would be good to know whether you're listening to a brief or a 15-minute piece.

In a nutshell, Nucleus played instrumental fusion/jazz-rock in which jazz is the dominant part of the equation. Trumpet, flugelhorn, saxes and flutes are central in the arrangements, but also guitar is often essential. Some of these albums are entirely composed by Ian Carr and some have many composers. Releasing nine albums in five years, what a work ethic Ian Carr had! No wonder that the line-up was under a constant change. The best known albums especially in prog circles are the first two that share the same line-up (e.g. guitarist Chris Spedding and reeds/keys player Karl Jenkins). Elastic Rock is seen as one of the most noteworthy fusion albums all time. Excuse me for not going into album-by-album analysis or into describing music in a more detailed fashion, I'll just pick up some interesting notions. Solar Plexus is, according to Carr's original liner notes, "based on two short themes which are stated at the beginning ('Elements I & II'). The first theme is angular and has a slow, crab-like movement: the second theme is direct, simple and diatonic". There are two shorter pieces exploring both themes, while 'Snakehip's Dream' "tries to fuse both themes". That long piece which Carr had been developing for a whole year was a sort of a musical blueprint for future Nucleus releases.

The Ian Carr album Belladonna features a relatively compact small group of six musicians. For me one of the most interesting albums here is Belladonna's follower Labyrinth (1973), a more "widescreen" work which was inspired by the Greek myth of the the Minotaur. Vocalist Norma Winstone has quite a big role on a couple of tracks. This album also features another celebrated trumpetist, Kenny Wheeler. BTW, drummer Tony Levin is just a name-sake of the famous bassist. Roots (1973) uses the vocals of Joy Yates, to a lesser extent. For the next album Under the Sun (1974) the whole line-up around Carr was changed (e.g. reeds player Bob Bertles, keyboardist Gordon Beck and guitarists Jocelyn Pitchen and Ken Shaw). The two final Vertigo albums albums, Snakehips Etcetera and Alleycat (both 1975) are funkier in style.

Ian Carr's most productive years as a musician ended during the 80's for health reasons. Alzheimer's disease led to his death in 2009. Today he is a notable forefigure for the new British jazz generation. This package of nine albums is a great hommage to his timeless work.

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Jazz Rock/Fusion bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
37°C Serbia
3RD WORLD ELECTRIC Multi-National
4 FRONT United States
7 FOR 4 Germany
EIVIND AARSET Norway
JOHN ABERCROMBIE United States
ABLUTION Sweden
ABRAXIS Belgium
ABUS DANGEREUX France
ACCORDO DEI CONTRARI Italy
ACQUA LIBERA Italy
ADDISON PROJECT Canada
AERA Germany
AFROSKULL United States
AGHARTA Canada
AGORA Italy
AIN SOPH Japan
AKA MOON Belgium
JAN AKKERMAN Netherlands
AL DI MEOLA - MCLAUGHLIN - PACO DE LUCIA Multi-National
ALAS Argentina
ALKEMY France
ALKOTRIO Russia
ALTRUISMOS Argentina
AMARILLO CIAN Y MAGENTA Costa Rica
AMIGDALA Italy
ANAMORPHOSE France
ANANGA RANGA Portugal
ANIMUS TRIO Argentina
APOSTOLIS ANTHIMOS Poland
ANTIHÉROE Argentina
ANWKOZIK France
APOTHECARY United States
APPENDIX Sweden
AQUARELLE Canada
ARATTA REBIRTH Armenia
ARCANA United States
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