Poll

Do you need to be a jazz musician to play fusion?

Yes
7 (43.8%)
No
9 (56.3%)

Total Members Voted: 16

Author Topic: Poll: Do you need to know how to play jazz to play fusion?  (Read 16752 times)

funkle

  • Administrator
  • Fuze-Master
  • *****
  • Posts: 1597
    • View Profile
Poll: Do you need to know how to play jazz to play fusion?
« on: July 03, 2010, 11:41:07 AM »
The original fusion players started out as jazz musicians, then things got a little more blurry. A lot of the guys who came up in the 80s studied jazz theory at places like MI, and can play easily over the changes in jazz standards, bop with the best of them, but may not even own a jazz guitar. Now I think there may be a generation of "fusion" musicians that are learning and transcribing only from fusion and other non-jazz musicians. So do you need to know how to play "true" jazz to be able to play fusion? I happen to think it really helps a lot. But you could sure learn a lot by spending a lifetime transcribing guys like Holdsworth, Henderson, Scofield, McLaughlin and the Breckers. Some of these guys do play more straight ahead. But would we say McLaughlin was ever a jazz guitarist in the traditional sense? I'm rambling a little.

So can you learn from the guys who learned from the masters, or do you have to go to the source? For me, it's a little of both. There's a lot to be learned from charlie parker or Louis' bebop lines, but sometimes I prefer how the post-bop guys have reinterpreted those lines. As the genre progresses, the connection to the masters will become more distant and blurred, and complicated by the impact of the newer masters.

Not really asking for advice or anything, I'm more wanting to open a dialogue on this.

7/4

  • Fully-Fuzed
  • ***
  • Posts: 171
    • View Profile
    • http://biink.com/db
Re: Poll: Do you need to know how to play jazz to play fusion?
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2010, 01:55:57 PM »
It sure helps...I think. Sounds like there's a lot of players who didn't.

7/4

  • Fully-Fuzed
  • ***
  • Posts: 171
    • View Profile
    • http://biink.com/db
Re: Poll: Do you need to know how to play jazz to play fusion?
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2010, 02:08:03 PM »
But would we say McLaughlin was ever a jazz guitarist in the traditional sense? I'm rambling a little.

My Foolish Heart
John McLaughlin-My Foolish Heart(1978)

Cherokee
John Mclaughlin

funkle

  • Administrator
  • Fuze-Master
  • *****
  • Posts: 1597
    • View Profile
Re: Poll: Do you need to know how to play jazz to play fusion?
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2010, 03:47:15 PM »
But would we say McLaughlin was ever a jazz guitarist in the traditional sense? I'm rambling a little.
My Foolish Heart
Cherokee

I know John McLaughlin can play straight ahead jazz (with the best of them). My point was that, although he studied some jazz styles early on, he was never really a jazz musician, unlike the other members of Lifetime had been.

millions

  • Founding Member
  • Fuze-O-Phile
  • *****
  • Posts: 294
    • View Profile
Re: Poll: Do you need to know how to play jazz to play fusion?
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2010, 08:29:42 PM »
But would we say McLaughlin was ever a jazz guitarist in the traditional sense? I'm rambling a little....There's a lot to be learned from charlie parker or Louis' bebop lines, but sometimes I prefer how the post-bop guys have reinterpreted those lines. As the genre progresses, the connection to the masters will become more distant and blurred, and complicated by the impact of the newer masters

funkle, to answer that, and address 7/4's contentious "non-answer," I think McLaughlin was looking to meld with a 'big horn band' on this TV clip, so he played a more conservative tune, and
"My Foolish Heart" is simply a beautiful song which attracted him (and me); but I do not think of McLaughlin as a "traditional jazzer."
Was John Coltrane a "traditional" jazzer? Maybe early in his career he was, but later, I'd say no; in fact, I tried to jam with some more traditional jazz players who actually disliked "modal" jazz, saying that it "bored" them. However, many jazz ideas are embodied in "jazz standards," so this is almost a necessary requirement to learn jazz ideas. There is a stylistic element which must be considered here. "Jazz standards" seem to imply certain stylistic "norms" for many players, but this does not have to be. Mike Stern's album "Standards" proves this, especially his take on Miles Davis' "Nardis."

The older traditional guitar players like Tal Farlow copied horn riffs; yes, there is a lot to be learned from the study of traditional earlier jazz, but don't let the word "jazz" become a term representing an older, "retro" style of jazz. To me, "jazz fusion" uses the same jazz language & harmonic tools as older jazz, only it has different stylistic trappings. Pat Metheny is jazz, but he's new at the same time.

What has happened with the guitar is that it is no longer is forced to play the older "pianistic" role it used to play in rhythm sections in jazz, even after it became amplified, which meant taking on the role of a pianistic, chordal instrument, formerly fullfilled by the banjo (Bela Fleck's jazz fusion banjo explodes this notion also). The guitar was expected to sound "clean" so chords would sound full, and subdued in tone even while soloing.

This is no longer the role the electric guitar must play, in any genre of music. It is now capable of single-note soloing thanks to amplification.

Also, much progress has been made in plectrum-style playing, with Frank Gambale's "speed-picking" 3 notes-per-string scale patterns, and other techniques. The guitar now has a substantial body of study material and recordings which are becoming more "idiomatic" to the guitar. A new guitar student is likely to study other guitar players, rather than horn players.
Pat Martino is a good example of a guitarist who is definitely "jazz," but everything he does is tailored for the guitar; his fingerings, riffs, and style of playing are all integrated in with his technique; his constant streams of eighth-notes are harmonic explorations of the instrument itself, not being copies of horn ideas, yet still firmly in the jazz idiom.
We, as guitarists, can now study Charlie Parker lines and "distill the essence" from the ideas, and apply them to guitar.
The piano is similar in this regard; it has various "schools" of playing, based on George Shearing, Bill Evans, Monk, or McCoy Tyner; and with electric keyboards, we have Jimmy Smith, Jan Hammer, Chick Corea, etc.

The study of jazz should be for harmonic & melodic ideas, not necessarily "retro-styles," unless you want to re-create an older form of jazz. It's up to the player. It's a post-modern world now, history can be molded.
For the "fusion" player, he or she is always forward-looking, as I see it.

Of the older players, Kenny Burrell, Jim Hall, Pat Martino, and George Benson led the way to fusion: then Mike Stern, John Scofield, and Pat Metheny took the reins.

So look past stylistic trappings, and look inward into the actual harmonic ideas you hear. However, many jazz ideas are embodied in "jazz standards," so this is almost a necessary requirement to learn jazz ideas (then there's the difficult case of Allan Holdsworth...).

Don't avoid traditional jazz, but don't let it become your prison. If you gotta shred, then shred. On the other hand, you should know all about min7b5 chords, sus 9 chords, and any type of jazz voicing, chord substitution, progressions, and tritone substitution. These are all basically tools used by all jazz players. How you apply them is up to you.

Jazz players do not hold the patent on harmonic innovation anymore; there are resources, like the Forte sets Dogbite has pointed out, which have nothing to do with styles or genres, and which are totally objective explorations of harmonic possibilities. I think Allan Holdsworth used an approach like this in the way he approaches scales, deriving them from permutations, then using them as he sees fit.

This is the way good musicians think, in terms of MUSIC, not "jazz," "rock," not horns, guitars, or whatever other genres and instruments we make music crawl through in order to get out into the air.

Hear music as a language, not just a style, like "jazz.". Then, you can apply these ideas to your own style. And, no, not everybody in "jazz" has to wear suits and Florsheim shoes.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2010, 04:27:30 AM by millions »
"In Spring! In the creation of art, it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg
"The trouble with New Age music is that there's no evil in it."-Brian Eno

7/4

  • Fully-Fuzed
  • ***
  • Posts: 171
    • View Profile
    • http://biink.com/db
Re: Poll: Do you need to know how to play jazz to play fusion?
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2010, 09:06:57 AM »
But would we say McLaughlin was ever a jazz guitarist in the traditional sense? I'm rambling a little....There's a lot to be learned from charlie parker or Louis' bebop lines, but sometimes I prefer how the post-bop guys have reinterpreted those lines. As the genre progresses, the connection to the masters will become more distant and blurred, and complicated by the impact of the newer masters

funkle, to answer that, and address 7/4's contentious "non-answer,"

and boo to you too. I also voted no.

I think McLaughlin was looking to meld with a 'big horn band' on this TV clip, so he played a more conservative tune, and
"My Foolish Heart" is simply a beautiful song which attracted him (and me); but I do not think of McLaughlin as a "traditional jazzer."

I think many people play My Foolish Heart because it's strongly associated with Bill Evans. (I thought it was, doesn't say that in Wiki). The album it appeared on (John McLaughlin, Electric Guitarist) was a career retrospective. He plays different styles with different people from different eras of his life.

Cherokee is a bop standard, strongly associated with Charlie Parker.

So he was a "traditional" jazz guitar player (whatever that is), but 50 or 60 years ago invented or help invent fusion.




« Last Edit: July 04, 2010, 09:12:58 AM by 7/4 »

philwbass

  • Half-Fuzed
  • **
  • Posts: 55
    • View Profile
    • website/blog/links
Re: Poll: Do you need to know how to play jazz to play fusion?
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2010, 09:58:00 AM »
If you don't know something about jazz, it isn't fusion. It's instrumental rock.
You could have someone play on a great fusion record who doesn't have a jazz background, but usually you'll find someone on the record does.
Jazz isn't just a musical style, it's a language and a culture and it's a rich resource to branch out from.

Halfdim7

  • Founding Member
  • Fuze-Master
  • *****
  • Posts: 831
  • Founder, Resident Noob
    • View Profile
Re: Poll: Do you need to know how to play jazz to play fusion?
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2010, 10:25:54 AM »
I think the question that would need to be answered first(and good luck with this  :)) is what the hell is Jazz, anymore? In the 90's, if you put a loop of a Dizzy Gillespie solo in your song and said "Manteca" over and over, they called it Acid Jazz. Was that jazz?
It's hardly cut and dried, is it?
For that matter what ever was Jazz? Was The Original Dixieland Jass Band jazz? Or were they just an early form of "Pseudo-jazz", or "Jazz-lite" like Kenny G?

Anyway, I love Jeff Beck.
Does he have the complex musical education of a Scott Henderson? Not that I know of.
Does he make some seriously bitchin' fusion? Hells yeah!
....lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing....

Swain

  • Half-Fuzed
  • **
  • Posts: 62
    • View Profile
Re: Poll: Do you need to know how to play jazz to play fusion?
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2010, 11:24:47 AM »
To me, all Music(s) is/are "FUSION". Fusing your own perceptions with others', whether they are a Player or a Listener. That is one Fusion. And in that one, all are Participants.

Fusing different Styles and/or Approaches is another, possibly more vast and all encompassing type of Fusion.

Limiting things to the (I guess) "Standard" of Fusion, would be talking more specifically of what happend in the 50's and 60's. Once the Jazz and Rock stuff was "Fused", that was it. Then it was Jazz-Rock Fusion?

Is that it? Done? Follow that Path or be out of the loop?

That, to me, is so limiting as to be "Non-Fusion".

Kind of like the Jazz guys who think it's all about Be-Bop.


   However, if this idea of Fusion from the 50's to 60's is what we're talking about, then yeah, I guess a cursory grasp of more Traditional Jazz approaches is necessary.

     Then again, I find the Maze of perceptions, "Theories" and more importantly, expectations, to be a cluster-*#(& .

    I think it's in direct proportion to people getting in the way of Music.

I'm no purist, by any means. But I do think that this "limiting" has substantially hurt "Jazz" and all of it's offshoots.

    Just like a Child, the idea of a Beginner's Mind, can be very powerful. And I think the tendency to describe things, has allowed us all to dilute the essence of "Jazz", which I think was the same thing as what the whole idea of "Fusion" must have been.

i.e. Much more open-ended than what had been happening at the time the term Fusion came about.

Or, maybe I'm just rambling too much.......

7/4

  • Fully-Fuzed
  • ***
  • Posts: 171
    • View Profile
    • http://biink.com/db
Re: Poll: Do you need to know how to play jazz to play fusion?
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2010, 01:09:02 PM »
If you don't know something about jazz, it isn't fusion. It's instrumental rock.

Exactly. How true that is!  ;D

fusion58

  • Half-Fuzed
  • **
  • Posts: 61
    • View Profile
    • daimone-sound.com
Re: Poll: Do you need to know how to play jazz to play fusion?
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2010, 03:58:26 PM »
I remember when I was at G.I.T. I overheard a new student ask an instructor who was a trad jazz kind of guy and not much of a fusion fan "what is fusion?"

The instructor replied "it's where you play your same old rock licks over jazz harmonies."

Ouch!  :-\ :D

Anyway, to answer the original question, if, by "fusion" we mean the fusion of jazz and rock, then I guess the answer would have to be a provisional "yes." That is, I'm not sure you have to know the standard repertoire, but you probably need to have a jazz vocabulary (melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic) and a grasp of how jazz harmony works.

 


millions

  • Founding Member
  • Fuze-O-Phile
  • *****
  • Posts: 294
    • View Profile
Re: Poll: Do you need to know how to play jazz to play fusion?
« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2010, 04:36:22 PM »
I remember when I was at G.I.T. I overheard a new student ask an instructor who was a trad jazz kind of guy and not much of a fusion fan "what is fusion?"
The instructor replied "it's where you play your same old rock licks over jazz harmonies."
Ouch!  :-\ :D

Anyway, to answer the original question, if, by "fusion" you mean the fusion of jazz and rock, then I guess the answer would have to be a provisional "yes," but I don't think fusion is as intimately connected with jazz as it used to be. That is, I'm not sure you have to know the standard repertoire, but you probably need to have a musical vocabulary (melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic) which encompasses jazz ideas, which allows a grasp of how jazz harmony works.

You have to separate "style" from "musical language." Many people tend to confuse the two, or consider them to be synonymous.

I see the answer "yes, you must know jazz to play fusion" as being flawed, not provisional. That answer implies that jazz is the only way of being musically intelligent. Not true. 

Jazz is a musical vocabulary, and "fusion" uses the same musical resources and that same vocabulary: 12 notes.

The description of the instructor as "traditional" refers to his own stylistic approach, which is his "style" of jazz (a musical language). This might include more conservative use of certain elements of the jazz language, but boils down to being a style, or "what he thinks jazz should be,"  which probably does not include distorted guitars.

"Same old rock licks," is a put-down of both rock (as a musical language), and its stylistic trappings (distorted rock sound).

This is nothing more than an elitist put-down "fusion", because the instructor prefers older horn-based jazz, with the requisite clean "jazz guitar" sound. Hasn't he ever heard Mike Stern or The Mahavishnu Orchestra?

This shows a conflict of stylistic preferences, not of actual musical substance or vocabulary. The instructor's argument is without technical substance, merely an off-the-wall statement. I never trust these sorts of non-specific criticisms & generalities.

Ha-ha, funny. A real cynical guy, probably because gigs are scarce, and he has to teach "shredders" how to be "jazzers."

I shouldn't be too hard on the old guy, though; many times, the substance flies right over the heads of those too immersed in notions of superficial style.

As an example, I wonder if anybody recognized the Tal Farlow quote I inserted into my solo on ToneZappa's backing track? I lifted it from "Blue Art, Too" off of his "Chromatic Palette" album. Hee heee...
« Last Edit: July 06, 2010, 04:36:37 AM by millions »
"In Spring! In the creation of art, it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg
"The trouble with New Age music is that there's no evil in it."-Brian Eno

fusion58

  • Half-Fuzed
  • **
  • Posts: 61
    • View Profile
    • daimone-sound.com
Re: Poll: Do you need to know how to play jazz to play fusion?
« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2010, 05:46:58 PM »
I remember when I was at G.I.T. I overheard a new student ask an instructor who was a trad jazz kind of guy and not much of a fusion fan "what is fusion?"
The instructor replied "it's where you play your same old rock licks over jazz harmonies."
Ouch!  :-\ :D
Anyway, to answer the original question, if, by "fusion" we mean the fusion of jazz and rock, then I guess the answer would have to be a provisional "yes." That is, I'm not sure you have to know the standard repertoire, but you probably need to have a jazz vocabulary (melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic) and a grasp of how jazz harmony works.

You have to separate "style" from "musical language." Many people tend to confuse the two, or consider them to be synonymous.

I don't see the answer "yes, you must know jazz (the jazz language, not "a jazz style") to play fusion" as being provisional; to me, jazz is a musical vocabulary, and "jazz fusion" uses that same vocabulary.

The description of the instructor as "traditional" refers to his own stylistic approach, which is his "style" of jazz (the musical language). This might include more conservative use of certain elements of the jazz language, but boils down to being a style, or "what he thinks jazz should be,"  which probably does not include distorted guitars.

"Same old rock licks," is a put-down of both rock (as a musical language), and its stylistic trappings (distorted rock sound).
This is nothing more than an elitist put-down of the "fusion" element, because the instructor prefers older horn-based jazz, with the requisite clean "jazz guitar" sound. Hasn't he ever heard Mike Stern or The Mahavishnu Orchestra?

This shows a conflict of stylistic preferences, not of actual musical substance or vocabulary. The instructor's argument is without technical substance, merely an off-the-wall statement. I never trust these sorts of non-specific criticisms & generalities.

Ha-ha, funny. A real cynical guy, probably because gigs are scarce, and he has to teach "shredders" how to be "jazzers."

I shouldn't be too hard on the old guy, though; many times, the substance flies right over the heads of those too immersed in notions of superficial style.

As an example, I wonder if anybody recognized the Tal Farlow quote I inserted into my solo on ToneZappa's backing track? I lifted it from "Blue Art, Too" off of his "Chromatic Palette" album. Hee heee...

Fortunately, that "old guy" wasn't representative of the instructors who played jazz when I was at M.I.  ;)

As for the "provisional" comment, I guess what I was trying to say was that, IMO, you don't necessarily have to know (or even like) every tune in the Real Book to (a) understand and assimilate the vocabulary, e.g., idiomatic lines, phrases, rhythms, etc., that give jazz its distinct identity or (b) understand how jazz harmony works and apply that understanding to your own compositions and improvisations. 

I know this is going to sound like blasphemy to many jazzers, but I think that just working through a book like "The Complete Book of Jazz Guitar Lines and Phrases" by Sid Jacobs (accompanied by a lot of listening, of course) can get you well in the ballpark (and take a lot of the mystery out of jazz improv.)

millions

  • Founding Member
  • Fuze-O-Phile
  • *****
  • Posts: 294
    • View Profile
Re: Poll: Do you need to know how to play jazz to play fusion?
« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2010, 08:21:25 PM »
I can agree with most of what you've said, fusion58.
You said "...working through a book like "The Complete Book of Jazz Guitar Lines and Phrases" by Sid Jacobs (accompanied by a lot of listening, of course) can get you well in the ballpark (and take a lot of the mystery out of jazz improv.)"

I've done some work, and learned some jazz riffs from books & records, and what I seem to end up with is fragments of ideas which I incorporate into my own style. A lot of it becomes unrecognizable from its source.
I have gained new knowledge, but I am probably no closer to "the ballpark" because I'm not going to be attending the game of "jazz." Whatever I do just comes out being me, and that has its roots in blues & rock. Yeah, that's where it's at for me; a nice, smoothly distorted guitar, loud enough to keep up with any drummer who might happen along. If my playing turns out to be "not as jazz" as Pat Metheny, then I'm not going to worry too much.

 
"In Spring! In the creation of art, it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg
"The trouble with New Age music is that there's no evil in it."-Brian Eno

dogbite

  • Half-Fuzed
  • **
  • Posts: 80
  • unruly quadruped
    • View Profile
    • music[ube]theory
Re: Poll: Do you need to know how to play jazz to play fusion?
« Reply #14 on: July 04, 2010, 09:13:08 PM »
I remember when I was at G.I.T. I overheard a new student ask an instructor who was a trad jazz kind of guy and not much of a fusion fan "what is fusion?"
The instructor replied "it's where you play your same old rock licks over jazz harmonies."
Ouch!  :-\ :D
Anyway, to answer the original question, if, by "fusion" we mean the fusion of jazz and rock, then I guess the answer would have to be a provisional "yes." That is, I'm not sure you have to know the standard repertoire, but you probably need to have a jazz vocabulary (melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic) and a grasp of how jazz harmony works.

...

The description of the instructor as "traditional" refers to his own stylistic approach, which is his "style" of jazz (the musical language). This might include more conservative use of certain elements of the jazz language, but boils down to being a style, or "what he thinks jazz should be,"  which probably does not include distorted guitars.

"Same old rock licks," is a put-down of both rock (as a musical language), and its stylistic trappings (distorted rock sound).
This is nothing more than an elitist put-down of the "fusion" element, because the instructor prefers older horn-based jazz, with the requisite clean "jazz guitar" sound. Hasn't he ever heard Mike Stern or The Mahavishnu Orchestra?

This shows a conflict of stylistic preferences, not of actual musical substance or vocabulary. The instructor's argument is without technical substance, merely an off-the-wall statement. I never trust these sorts of non-specific criticisms & generalities.

Ha-ha, funny. A real cynical guy, probably because gigs are scarce, and he has to teach "shredders" how to be "jazzers."

I shouldn't be too hard on the old guy, though; many times, the substance flies right over the heads of those too immersed in notions of superficial style.

...

yes, don't be too hard on the "old guy" - he's frustrated. he has likely devoted a lifetime of effort and expense in cultivating a serious career only to be faced with impatient young students on a daily basis going on about some up and coming performer he's not heard of and when he finally hears it...

i would not address "what is jazz" and "what is fusion" in an open forum but i will offer this:

does it not make sense for an aspiring "fusion" artist to know exactly what is being "fused"? the reason i don't listen to a huge amount of fusion anymore is that much of it is perceived by me as "a jazz guy trying to rock out" or "a rock guy trying to..."

and no i'm not a purist as much as being very selective about what i listen to while i'm not at work teaching. you also may perceive correctly that my fusion [playing] days ended some time ago (after a very interesting stint in a fusion band woke me up to the harsh realities of what the general public will pay to see in a live band)

i think y'all get my point tho - i did check "no" because i really don't think that you had to hang with miles and russell, trane and evans to produce convincing fusion music.  it just makes sense to know more rather than less, that's all...

and remember that if you offer me fusion, i'm comparing it to di meola and ponty and the like - in other words, very accomplished players and when my friends hand me a recording of theirs to listen to, i have a choice between this and the established pros so - yes, i am a tough crowd when it comes to listening...

i digress, but i really see no reason that jazz standards must be an implicit or explicit prerequisite for playing fusion.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2010, 09:20:03 PM by dogbite »
s/aka/db