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Ian Ramirez
Ian Ramirez

Best Of Jazz Fusion And Funk Music - Too Hot Too Tight

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Best of Jazz Fusion and Funk Music - Too Hot Too Tight

Using a great sounding reference track is one of the best ways to help you create professional sounding music. It keeps your mixing and mastering focussed from start to finish, ensuring that you dial in a great sound for every element of your production.

However, the most divisive and controversial among jazz aficionados was the 1960s that first saw the advent of free jazz and, towards the end of the decade, experiments fusing jazz improvisation with rock music.

Jazz as funk, funk as jazz: the two lexicons entwine and merge so as to lose meaning in one of the great live records of the 1990s. Coleman had already made a splash with his JMT label output yet his playing and writing are more penetrating and focused here. Snappy, stabbing, staccato rhythmic and melodic lines are repeated to trance giving the impression of a giant musical pinball machine on a rotating floor. As well as exerting a decisive influence on anyone from the F-IRE collective to Omar Sosa, Coleman has always managed to reflect something of his times. Here he captured the hyperactivity of the burgeoning Internet age and the brash self-assertion of the hip-hop generation. (KLG)

Duke Ellington discovered and recorded pianist-composer Dollar Brand aka Abdullah Ibrahim in 1963 playing in a more or less conventional jazz manner, but it took a long time for the South African township music he evolved in the 1970s to be accepted outside of Africa. This album was one of the very first to be made in America and its impact was immense, its melodicism, warmth and simplicity brought something new and refreshing to the often overheated, testosterone-filled gladiatorial pit of small group improvising to established harmonic patterns. As Jelly Roll Morton had shown 50 years earlier, sometimes the best comes from a truly group effort. (KS)

By the time he made this date, Corea had worked his way through a heavy avant-garde phase and out onto the sunlit plains of his own latin-based musical imagination. It had always been there in his music, but now, marrying the élan and high spirits of Flora Purim and Airto with his own naturally ebullient and melodically uplifting inclinations, Corea suddenly not only stepped forward himself past the stentorian gloom and machismo of the other fusioneers of the day, but redefined exactly what latin jazz should be about. Intoxicating music played by masters makes this an era-defining milestone. (KS)

At the close of the 60s, the modal idea became the foundation of fusion jazz. It proved the same for a number of rock groups, such as the Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead and Santana, that used the electric guitar as the solo instrument of choice, and set the standard for generations of jam-oriented bands to follow.

Cole is a stupefyingly proficient multi-instrumentalist, singer, producer and trickster whose bracing new album, Quality over Opinion, releases this Friday on Brainfeeder. He's been a major player in the musical online attention economy for the better part of a decade, as a solo act and as one-half of Knower, with singer-songwriter and producer Genevieve Artadi. Together with virtuoso oddballs like MonoNeon, an electric bass whiz and vocal funkateer, and DOMi & JD Beck, a sly keys-and-drums duo repping mayhem in the rhythm matrix, Cole stands at the center of a cohort whose identifying traits are easy to recognize and harder to define. Many of these musicians have at least a tangential connection to Thundercat, the bassist and falsetto warbler whose interstellar jazz-R&B has been a defining Brainfeeder trademark. Like him, they're known for jaw-dropping technical ability, jazz-inflected genre fluidity and an irreverent yet allusive savvy regarding image and platform. At this disorienting moment in our age of digital exchange, they can sometimes seem like the only ones who've gleefully cracked the code.

Collier is a genial and effective collaborator, as he demonstrated on his 2020 album Djesse Vol. 3, featuring the likes of Ty Dolla $ign, Tori Kelly and T-Pain. But even as he develops a solicitous new trademark as a conductor of arena singalongs, he has the cloistered instinct of a native YouTuber. In fact, it wouldn't be a stretch to argue that YouTube is his genre. And in this he's hardly alone. In "jazz" as elsewhere, we've seen a recent explosion in acts that inhabit the platform as a hothouse terrarium, cultivating fan bases that migrate them to major stages: Think of the French house producer French Kiwi Juice, or the Los Angeles funk laboratory Scary Pockets. These aren't really album artists, though they do put out albums. Partly because of their commitment to visual impact, and partly through a brand of showmanship that feels immersively technical yet breezy and personable, their work makes the most intuitive sense in a YouTube window. You could see that as a limitation or a clever hack, though it's probably a bit of both.

Jazz is a musical form practically overrun with pieties; it's a big factor behind the genre's intimidating reputation to outsiders. This is why so much has been made of the disarming impiety embodied by DOMi & JD Beck, who dress like hyperpop fiends and otherwise embody a specific brand of Gen Z insouciance. Profiling the duo for The New York Times Magazine last year, writer Ryan Bradley asserted: "Their music is both radically sophisticated and full of jokes, a combination of qualities you find in both the 20th century's jazz greats and the 21st century's extremely online teenagers."

None of this is cause for handwringing, contrary to some of the framing you may have seen. (Like the headline from that Times Magazine piece: "Who are these kids, and what are they doing to jazz?") Viral jazz means no harm to the host organism; it will just keep mutating according to its own capricious logic. Students at conservatories like Berklee are presently poring over YouTube clips of DOMi & JD Beck, Louis Cole and others with Talmudic intensity, so it seems likely we'll be seeing more along these lines. But as we've witnessed countless times over the last century, the tradition of improvised music is resilient and adaptive. Viral jazz isn't the only sort of jazz built for change.

Drummers have often been the butt of jokes, many of which focus on their supposed lack of musicality and dubious time-keeping skills. But the truth is that a band is only as good as its drummer, and the best jazz drummers can miraculously transform a below-average combo into a half-decent one.

Watch this video on YouTubeClick to load video45: Jeff Ballard (born 1963)A long-time musical associate of noted contemporary jazz pianist Brad Mehldau, California-born Ballard has demonstrated his exceptional talent in ensembles led by Pat Metheny, Joshua Redman, and Chick Corea. His style is dramatically dynamic, defined by an infectious sense of brio and fizzing energy.

Watch this video on YouTubeClick to load video42: Norman Connors (born 1947)At just 16, the precociously-gifted Connors, then still at school, subbed for Elvin Jones at a Coltrane gig in Philly, and, for a time, it seemed as if spiritual jazz would be his calling, especially after a stint playing with Pharaoh Sanders in the early 70s. Though Connors moved into the realm of R&B music, and became renowned as a hit-making producer and procurer of up-and-coming talent, he never forgot his jazz roots.

Watch this video on YouTubeClick to load video31: Billy Higgins (1936-2001)This LA skin-beater first made his mark with the free jazz iconoclast Ornette Coleman in the late 50s, but quickly evolved into a dependable musician who could comfortably switch from hard bop to cutting-edge avant-garde music without missing a beat. His 700 studio credits range from Hank Mobley and Dexter Gordon to Sun Ra and Pat Metheny, making him one of the most in-demand sticksmen among the best jazz drummers of all time.

Watch this video on YouTubeClick to load video30: Joe Chambers (born 1942)A composer, vibraphonist, and pianist, as well as a drummer, Chambers was in-demand in the 60s and played with everyone from Miles Davis (who, among all the bandleaders mentioned here, notched up sessions with the most jazz drummers in this list of the best) and Freddie Hubbard to Bobby Hutcherson and Chick Corea. Though he was fluent in hard bop, his ability to play more abstract, exploratory music gave him a desirable versatility.

Watch this video on YouTubeClick to load video17: Jack DeJohnette (born 1942)Apprenticed first to Charles Lloyd, then Bill Evans and Miles Davis, Boston-born DeJohnette is an eclectic drummer who can adapt to, and seems comfortable with, any stylistic setting in jazz. His style, which seamlessly combines elements from free jazz, bop, world music, R&B, and rock, is singular and supremely eloquent.

Watch this video on YouTubeClick to load video1: Art Blakey (1919-1990)A polyrhythmic percussion powerhouse, Art Blakey was a one-man engine room who powered his long-running band, The Jazz Messengers, with a superior sense of swing and syncopation. Sitting atop this list of the best jazz drummers of all time, he was a charismatic bandleader as well as drummer; his trademark was the swelling press roll, which he used to inject a turbo-charged intensity into his driving hard bop grooves.

If Ronald Shannon Jackson had done no more than play with avant-garde jazz icons Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor during a span of 12 years between 1966 and 1978, his stature would be secure. But Jackson, who incorporated parade-drumming patterns, African rhythms and funk into a singular, instantly recognizable style, went on to form his critically acclaimed Decoding Society, from which emerged Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid and Rollins Band bassist Melvin Gibbs. "He synthesized blues shuffles with African syncopations through the lens of someone who gave vent to all manner of emotions," Reid said of the late drummer-composer in a 2003 Fort Worth Weekly article. "I feel that the collision of values in his music really represents American culture." Jackson's seismic rumble also drove sessions led by John Zorn and Bill Laswell, and reached peak extremity in Last Exit, a take-no-prisoners punk-jazz quartet featuring Laswell, saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and guitarist Sonny Sharrock. 041b061a72


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