WHAT IS JAZZ FUSION?

Jazz-rock, or more commonly known as Jazz fusion, is the combination of the rough staccato style of jazz in the smooth legato style of modern-day rock. Although it may seem this combination considering these styles of music are opposites, great artists such as Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock developed this style to give it a yin and yang effect. Where they accompany each other in perfect balance, this style of music was able to produce due to the new development of electric instruments such as the guitar and synthesizer. Following the swing movement in 1930, the Jazz fusion came out booming with Miles Davis leading the change with his song “In a Silent Way.” Following the release of this track, jazz fusion became one of the most significant jazz movements in history. Soon after Miles Davis, we see many other great fusion artists pop up, such as Herbie Hancock, John Mclaughlin, Tony Williams, and many more.

While many people stuck to the classic electric instruments such as the guitar and keyboard, one man strayed from the pack to introduce something great to the newly arising jazz fusion world. Herbie Hancock started his journey with his performance of a Mozart piece with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at age 11. After this performance, he caught the eye of Miles Davis, who was making his path in the world of Jazz Fusion. In hearing this new realm of music, Davis inspired Herbie to move on to form his own fusion groups. Some of these include “The Headhunters” and  “The Herbie Hancock Trio.” In these bands, he went from using an electric keyboard to an electric piano and finally a synthesizer. In his use of the synthesizer, Herbie Hancock changed the face of jazz fusion with his signature sound of combining a synthesizer with a fuzz-wah and a clavinet. His sounds and mastery of these electric items lead others, such as Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea, Larry Young, and many more, to help the development of this period.

Although many knew it for the combination of jazz and rock, there were many other fusions of jazz and different genres. Such as the most popular style of fusion music, which came forth in the 80s and 90s, known as light jazz or contemporary jazz. We see this style of fusion today through the stylings of Kenny G and Boney James. In addition to light jazz, jazz fusion also inspired a fusion that involved hard bop. This style had the backbone of rock songs in which people improvised as the jazz portion. All in all, due to the increase in electronic instruments, jazz fusion was created, changing the face of all music forever. 

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