Monday, July 21, 2008

The New Fusion


Way back when, after Miles redefined jazz with Bitches Brew and Jack Johnson, when jazz, in order to survive, embraced rock to create a new sound in popular music...  way back when, it was called "fusion".  

Unfortunately, this fusion sound soon went is a less desirable direction, becoming a hackneyed style that was easily assimilated into the more palatable "smooth jazz".   Groups like Return to Forever produce some great stuff but also expressed the excesses of the form and soon degenerated into the smooth category.  Fusion, at least to me, became something to avoid.  The promise of Miles, the great integration of jazz, rock, r&b, etc., soon became a boring formulaic sound.

But fusion is back, with a new vitality.  Find it on XM 70...  Beyond Jazz they call it.  Led by the latest generation of jam bands as well as the younger jazz dudes (who have musical depth in many directions), a new, more promising integration of styles is taking place.  Fusion is finally showing its promise.  And the best of the past is now resurrected.  I listen to XM quite a bit (and other than resampling around Billy Holiday--horendous!), I like what I hear.

So I'm pleased (for many reasons) to finally get the CD project (to finish his Masters at USC) from Willis.  Five tunes, all originals by Willis except for the wonderful interpretation of Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright".   Some country, some rock, some jazz, all well expressed (with more emotion than I expected), and well integrated, and well played.  Lots to hear and enjoy.  Hopefully we can get the group on this CD up to SLC for the Arts Fest next summer.

Also, I'm planning to post MP3s of the music on his web site in the near future.  A limited run of demo CDs will be produced as well.  

The new fusion, finally the promise fulfulled.  And thanks, Willis, for getting this done,  A father's pride, a great musical accomplishment.

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