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Jazz, rock, and Beyond

The emergence of rock in the 1960s pushed jazz to the margins, and made it inevitable that some musicians would try to win a place for themselves in this huge new market. There were obstacles (electric amplification, new dance grooves, the presence of singers, the dominance of guitars), but by focusing on soul music, a new so-called “fusion” of jazz and rock took its place on stage and in recordings. We examine early fusion, leading up to Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew, and consider the 1970s bands led by his former sidemen (Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Weather Report) as well as youthful rock-era people like Pat Metheny and Jaco Pastorius. We look at the music on the ECM label and the unusual “fusion” of people like Keith Jarrett and Oregon. We address the creation of “smooth jazz” in the 1980s and explain the surprising success of Kenny G. In the 1990s, hiphop and jazz came to share a fusion, as did jazz and rave music, sometimes known as “acid jazz.” Finally, we consider the contemporary scene, enlivened by new groups that had their roots in the organ trios of the 1950s and 1960s.

  • Keith Jarrett, Long as You Know You’re Living Yours
  • Weather Report, Teen Town
  • Scofield, Medeski, Martin, Wood, Chank
  • Miles Davis, Tutu

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