Classical Music Forum banner

Which are your picks for the best Jazz Fusion bands/artists of all f*¢k!ng time?

  • Mahavishnu Orchestra

  • Frank Zappa (Mothers of Invention)

  • Return to Forever

  • Weather Report

  • Tony Williams Lifetime

  • Tribal Tech

  • Soft Machine

  • Colosseum

  • Shakti

  • Nucleus

  • Larry Coryell (Eleventh House)

  • Steely Dan

  • Bruford

  • Oregon

  • Jean-Luc Ponty

  • Joe Zawinul

  • Dixie Dregs

  • Jeff Beck

  • The Wrong Object

  • Brian Auger (Oblivion Express)

  • Allan Holdsworth

  • James Blood Ulmer

  • Billy Cobham

  • Sonny Sharrock

  • Miles Davis

1 - 20 of 30 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,180 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This list and its accompanying poll encompass what I believe to be the best artists/bands in the Jazz Fusion genre. And yes, this is yet another shameless and petty attempt to rank artists ... and a celebration of the best in the genre!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,360 Posts
I don't know about best but I don't consider Steely Dan a jazz rock fusion band. Miles had several different electric ensembles. The Dixie Dregs had very little jazz influence. It was much more of a classical/rock/country fusion. And Zappa and the Mothers also encompassed many different ensembles. I suppose the 73-74 band was the closest thing to jazz fusion. My personal favorites are Oregon, Tribal Tech, Holdworth, RTF, and Weather Report, which was also many different bands over the years. I favor the first half of the 70s for WR.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
329 Posts
One can say that Miles Davis is Fusion? Of course, there's a period of his works that fit, but he was a lot more than that. I didn't much care for his work of that 'fusion' style. Too oblique, feels pretentious. Today he's raised to saint standard? Different strokes, I guess :). There are artists listed here that I know nothing about. Guess I'll go hit Spotify when I get time...

I think I should have been able to vote for 5, 3 feels too narrow to me. It's an interesting poll, however. A well executed list with details can be found here:

Progarchives Sub-genre Info

This pollster's list is not a bad one. I cannot represent myself as the Grand Poobah of Fusion, however.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,180 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
One can say that Miles Davis is Fusion? Of course, there's a period of his works that fit, but he was a lot more than that. I didn't much care for his work of that 'fusion' style. Too oblique, feels pretentious. Today he's raised to saint standard? Different strokes, I guess :). There are artists listed here that I know nothing about. Guess I'll go hit Spotify when I get time...

I think I should have been able to vote for 5, 3 feels too narrow to me. It's an interesting poll, however. A well executed list with details can be found here:

Progarchives Sub-genre Info

This pollster's list is not a bad one. I cannot represent myself as the Grand Poobah of Fusion, however.
I didn't know Kind of Blue was considered fusion. :sneaky:

Anyway, Miles produced more than enough fusion albums to merit inclusion in the poll.
  1. Bitches Brew
  2. In a Silent Way
  3. A Tribute to Jack Johnson
  4. On the Corner
  5. Get Up With It
  6. Live-Evil
  7. Pangaea
  8. Agharta
  9. Dark Magus
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,360 Posts
Please make some recommendations. But all in all, you must admit that it is a pretty good list. :D
Yeah, good list. I would also include John Scofield's mid to late 80s band, and his Uberjam band of the early 2000s. George Duke's MPS, and Columbia/ Epic albums. Oz Noy, Wayne Krantz, and Al Di Meola.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Red Terror

·
Registered
Joined
·
889 Posts
Please make some recommendations. But all in all, you must admit that it is a pretty good list. :D
For anyone interested, Stuart Nicholson's book "Jazz-Rock...." is worth it for the discography alone.
 

·
Registered
Bernd Alois Zimmermann
Joined
·
429 Posts
The only great jazz fusion bands were Return to Forever and Weather Report. Allan Holdsworth, whom I adore, went from psyche, garage rock, improv, jazz, through a myriad of other forms. His only jazz fusion albums were with Gong & JL Ponty
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,272 Posts
Please make some recommendations. But all in all, you must admit that it is a pretty good list. :D
Admirable work, Red, my compliments - It's a tough gig - and a thankless one too as it is virtually impossible to please everyone and effortlessly possible to please no one.

It's a difficult concept to delineate the players into the kinds of categories which make projects of this sort viable.

Almost all of the names you've listed and some of those challenged by other members can be found on this list -


I would have added Brand X - Left off Steely Dan and Dixie Dregs entirely - and moved several to a different category.

If I may offer one suggestion - Give some thought to compiling a second poll - This one a (relatively) straightforward "Jazz Rock" poll - Add Chicago, BST, Chase, IF, Santana, etc.

You could begin with a "Selection" thread - Allow members to submit one name per day until you reach 25 names or allow two names per day per member but be prepared to do two polls in which the top 10 from each move to a Final - That makes 3 polls in total - I have no idea as to how ambitious you are - It's your call.

Again, my compliments - I "Liked" the first post - I know how discouraging it can be to expend the time and effort to create something of value and to not receive even a token acknowledgement for having done so.

Cheers...

One last note - I would lose the obscenity in the title - You don't need it - It's a bit rich coming from me as I use it every second post but one of us has to maintain some semblance of standards here.
 

·
Registered
Bernd Alois Zimmermann
Joined
·
429 Posts
Admirable work, Red, my compliments - It's a tough gig - and a thankless one too as it is virtually impossible to please everyone and effortlessly possible to please no one.

It's a difficult concept to delineate the players into the kinds of categories which make projects of this sort viable.

Almost all of the names you've listed and some of those challenged by other members can be found on this list -


I would have added Brand X - Left off Steely Dan and Dixie Dregs entirely - and moved several to a different category.

If I may offer one suggestion - Give some thought to compiling a second poll - This one a (relatively) straightforward "Jazz Rock" poll - Add Chicago, BST, Chase, IF, Santana, etc.

You could begin with a "Selection" thread - Allow members to submit one name per day until you reach 25 names or allow two names per day per member but be prepared to do two polls in which the top 10 from each move to a Final - That makes 3 polls in total - I have no idea as to how ambitious you are - It's your call.

Again, my compliments - I "Liked" the first post - I know how discouraging it can be to expend the time and effort to create something of value and to not receive even a token acknowledgement for having done so.

Cheers...

One last note - I would lose the obscenity in the title - You don't need it - It's a bit rich coming from me as I use it every second post but one of us has to maintain some semblance of standards here.
Only an American would advance the 🤢🤮likes of Brand X...

If it’s wasn’t for the fact that you’re of Irish heritage, Shaughnessy… 🫣
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,272 Posts
Only an American would advance the 🤢🤮likes of Brand X...

If it’s wasn’t for the fact that you’re of Irish heritage, Shaughnessy… 🫣
I'm not "American" (although I do have dual-citizenship) - I was born in Dublin - The family emigrated to Chicago the year that I turned 14.

And I said that I would add Brand X - I didn't say that I would necessarily vote for them, gobshite...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,360 Posts
Brand X was a great band. I caught them at a club in 2017. I think they could have made more good records if they weren't signed to crappy labels. As it is they made four great albums and a few so so records.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,904 Posts
Great list. Very difficult to just pick 5. I went with Mahavishnu, Return to Forever, Weather Report, Holdsworth, and Miles.

Miles, to me, is the gold standard. I think all of his fusion albums are remarkable in their originality and diversity, and despite all falling under the same general label they all sound so radically different from each other: from the proto-ambient/minimalism of In a Silent Way, to the rich complexities of Bitches Brew, to the grooving hard rock of Jack Johnson, to the funk of On the Corner, to the exploratory tracks spread across various compilation albums (Get Up With It) and the live albums (Pangea and Agartha).

Holdsworth similarly I praise for his originality. As a guitarist his technical command was second to none, and wouldn't be equaled until a phenomenon like Shawn Lane came along decades later; but his harmonic command was even greater than his technical chops, and he made music that sounded incredibly alien because of it. His influence has been broad and perhaps incalculable on later guitarists, even finding its way into the solos of extreme metal bands like Meshuggah.

Mahavishnu, Weather Report, and Return to Forever are my other choices. All three very distinct, but all bands I think substantially elaborated on Miles's (mostly) innovations.

For the others I'm familiar with, many I wouldn't classify as fusion. Zappa was incredibly versatile that while he does have some music that qualifies as fusion it's not the bulk of his output. Steely Dan were more a melting pot of pop, R&B, blues, smooth rock, but with some jazz-influenced chords, progressions, and occasionally playing... but they largely eschewed improvisation that's at the heart of most jazz, so despite being one of my favorite bands in any genre I didn't vote for them. Jeff Beck similarly is more rock than fusion, though I might say his more recent work has arguably been closer to fusion. I'm not terribly familiar with it outside the live clips I've seen. Dixie Dregs also seemed to not be much jazz influenced.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,416 Posts
Miles produced more than enough fusion albums to merit inclusion in the poll.
I know I'll be in the minority here, but I really don't consider Miles's electric period to be fusion. I know he said he could put together "the best [expletive] rock & roll band in the world" but I don't think, as a 1940s jazz player, he really knew what he was talking about. Especially since the releases of the unedited sessions, it's apparent he was simply continuing the modal improvisations over a static bed that he introduced with "In A Silent Way." He changed the backing to some musicians with rock cred and a harder sound, but it was still just modal jazz.

To my mind "fusion" has to have structural elements of two or more genres.
 
1 - 20 of 30 Posts
Top