Author Topic: What is the definition of fusion?  (Read 28570 times)

funkle

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What is the definition of fusion?
« on: June 16, 2010, 03:24:45 PM »
The term fusion, as it pertains to music, can get pretty tenuous, a lot of people have baggage attached to the term. Discussing it's definition is a slippery slope, and can lead to fights, and should be avoided. So let's discuss it then!

Definition 1:
Fusion was a genre resulting from a variety of forces in the 60s. It came about when various jazz musicians decided to "turn up" I let the historians in the group get into more detail here. But basically it boiled down to jazz musicians playing music which fused rock & jazz in various permutations. This musical movement died out in the 70s when Miles, Tony, John and the other originators got out of the game.

Definition 2:
The genre, which started in the 60s as described above has continued to evolve, change and develop offshoot genres, and is alive and well today. Many of the original fathers are still playing fusion today and there is new talent coming up all the time. It's had it's hiccups, and some of the offshoots have been undesirable to some (and destructive to the namesake), but there have always been key players who have carried the torch, respected the key attributes and continued to make "fusion" viable in the new millennium.

If you haven't guessed, I'm more inclined towards definition 2. But I also think it is fruitless to debate over the terminology, it is a matter of semantics, and personal taste. So why bring it up? Because we do need to define what we're going to discuss here. So perhaps my "modern fusion" is your "jazz/rock" or "instrumental". The important thing is to not ruffle any feathers, and respect the fact that opinions are just, opinions.

Adji

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2010, 03:29:32 PM »
I mainly agree with you and definition 2. I think fusion is very much alive but (like all kinds of music) has evolved and branched out into some good, and some bad genres.
It is like a lot of the 80's metal guys say that metal is dead, it isn't really dead it has just evolved into something different (and mainly bad  ;D) and that it existed in the late 70s and 80s and died when Nu Metal hit it big.

I think guys like Holdsworth are really carrying the torch but Holdsworth blurs the lines of fusion as he has taken it totally somewhere else.

Halfdim7

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2010, 03:51:30 PM »
Then, of course, there's always the question of what needs to be "fused" with jazz to produce "Fusion".
Is Shakti fusion? Does a group have to be electric to be considered fusion? Are the guitar trio recordings of McLaughlin, Di Meola and De Lucia still fusion?
What about groups like the Bad Plus, or the Alex Skolnik Trio who play jazz, but use rock songs as "standards"?
How about the Allman Brothers Band(w/ Duane)? Or jazzy rock bands like the Doors or even Steeley Dan?
....lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing....

Adji

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2010, 03:57:08 PM »
Then, of course, there's always the question of what needs to be "fused" with jazz to produce "Fusion".
Is Shakti fusion? Does a group have to be electric to be considered fusion? Are the guitar trio recordings of McLaughlin, Di Meola and De Lucia still fusion?
What about groups like the Bad Plus, or the Alex Skolnik Trio who play jazz, but use rock songs as "standards"?
How about the Allman Brothers Band(w/ Duane)? Or jazzy rock bands like the Doors or even Steeley Dan?


This is where it starts to get confusing eh?  ???

I think, to me personally, fusion has a specific sound and if it doesn't have 'that' sound to me, then I will usually label it as something else. Like to me their is fusion that incorporates Jazz and Rock, and then there is also JazzRock. I guess it depends on the quantities of each genre and how they are used, to me anyway.

funkle

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2010, 04:03:59 PM »
Then, of course, there's always the question of what needs to be "fused" with jazz to produce "Fusion".
Is Shakti fusion? Does a group have to be electric to be considered fusion? Are the guitar trio recordings of McLaughlin, Di Meola and De Lucia still fusion?
What about groups like the Bad Plus, or the Alex Skolnik Trio who play jazz, but use rock songs as "standards"?
How about the Allman Brothers Band(w/ Duane)? Or jazzy rock bands like the Doors or even Steeley Dan?


It's kind of like you have a circle, which encompasses "fusion" and some things are very much in the center, and some things are towards sides, and some things may be just outside, or overlap sometimes. But the personal barometer is a big factor here too.

Halfdim7

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2010, 04:04:22 PM »
Adji, I can tell you're gonna be a valuable asset, already!
That's more or less the way I've been thinking, too. Steeley Dan and the Doors, in my opinion, probably have enough jazz influence to be labeled "Jazz Rock", but not "Fusion". The Allmans are a little more difficult to peg, because, in the beginning with Duane, they had a much more pronounced jazz influence than other Jam bands. The Grateful Dead, for instance.
But that's the fun of a debate that can't be won!  ;D
....lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing....

Adji

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2010, 04:07:38 PM »
Adji, I can tell you're gonna be a valuable asset, already!
That's more or less the way I've been thinking, too. Steeley Dan and the Doors, in my opinion, probably have enough jazz influence to be labeled "Jazz Rock", but not "Fusion". The Allmans are a little more difficult to peg, because, in the beginning with Duane, they had a much more pronounced jazz influence than other Jam bands. The Grateful Dead, for instance.
But that's the fun of a debate that can't be won!  ;D

Haha!

To be honest, not familiar with the majority of those bands, I mean obviously I have heard some stuff by each of them but not enough to form a realistic opinion. I had to do a project on the Grateful dead about five years ago and I think I came to the conclusion they were more of a Psychedelic Rock band, heavily infused with various narcotics haha!

the funny thing about fusion is technically all you need to do is combine something (to fuse is to combine) and you technically have a fusion. So I could combine electronica and metal and I end up with Industrial, but technically it is Fusion, yet we don't class it as fusion?? Argh my head hurts.

Halfdim7

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2010, 04:21:42 PM »
Well, Steeley Dan is a very cool, laid back band. They use a lot of jazz harmony, but are more song based, than instrumental/improvisational. However their sound is undeniably jazzy, if not their approach.
The Doors sound, to my ears, very Soul Jazz influenced(Soul Jazz is pretty close to rock in a lot of ways to begin with). At one point in the 60's a member(Ray Manzerek?) claimed that a lot of people were talking about jazz and rock mixing, he didn't think it could really happen, but said if it did, he thought the Doors were it(how confusing is that!)
Duane Allman was a Miles Davis freak, he obsessed over 'Kind of Blue' and was known to improvise over static modal compositions for an hour or more, in concert. After Duane died, the Allmans became more of a southern jam band. 
....lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing....

Geoff J

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2010, 04:54:21 PM »
This is how I defined it in a mission statement for my idealistic production company, Beasts of The Southeastâ„¢

"What is meant by the term "Contemporary Jazz/Fusion" or "Jazz Fusion" or "Fusion" , is a style of music blending elements of Bebop/Post Bop era jazz , Funk/R&B, Afro-Carribean/Brazilian , other Latin Music, and Instrumental Progressive Rock. Sometimes other styles such as bluegrass & perhaps even native folk music from one of many other nations may also be included at times ! This genre of music can be a blend of all of the styles, some of those styles, or more of one or more particular styles than others. Therefore, it can be said that this style of music defies categorization, and the lines become blurred as far as what style the music really is. The underlying point is that this type of format allows highly skilled musicians to exhibit their full improvisational &/or compositional prowess over music forms with advanced & VARIED rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic constructs, yet with unrestrained emotion, thought, and conviction in live settings which generates a transcendent interaction with audiences."
©2010, Seventy Times Seven Trust, All Rights Reserved

Halfdim7

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2010, 05:00:57 PM »
Wow, Geoff. That's a pretty good definition of the undefinable!
....lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing....

rwe333

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2010, 06:16:54 AM »
Anyone read Stuart Nicholson book Jazz-Rock: A History?
While not perfect, it is a strong overview that has some interesting definitions of the term "fusion" and (his preferred) "jazz/rock".
Link at Chapters/Indigo: 
http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Jazz-Rock-Stuart-Nicholson/9780028646794-item.html


funkle

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2010, 08:04:57 AM »
Geoff, your definition is pretty good. I like the part about "allows highly skilled musicians to exhibit their full improvisational &/or compositional prowess". It begs the question: do non-musicians ever listen to fusion?

RWE, I was looking for that book, couldn't remember the name. Thanks

Geoff J

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2010, 08:22:45 AM »
Geoff, your definition is pretty good. I like the part about "allows highly skilled musicians to exhibit their full improvisational &/or compositional prowess". It begs the question: do non-musicians ever listen to fusion?

Well, that's why i put the back part of the statement, "yet with unrestrained emotion, thought, and conviction in live settings which generates a transcendent interaction with audiences.""

I have done 2 tribute shows for Jaco & Breckers, and NON-musicians LOVED the shows. Unfortunately I had to rent the room out because no clubs would have any of this  !

Very Few non-musicians listen to fusion though - but I believe that alot are WILLING to listen to it. That's why I am building up that playlist in order to define fusion via audio !

funkle

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2010, 08:45:40 AM »
I think where non musicians listen to fusion is in the jam scene, when a jam band crosses the line into fusion territory, and I have seen this first hand on several occaisons. John Scofield was drawing a big jam band crowd when Uberjam was out. Umphries, Col Bruce Hampton, Jimmy Herring, Jazz is Dead, Garaj Mahal, Trey Anistasio and Addison Groove Project have crossed the fusion line IMO. It is actually really cool to see those kids getting into this kind of music.

Geoff J

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Re: What is the definition of fusion?
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2010, 09:54:45 AM »
yup, MM&W also !