A history of Jazz Music

by Piero Scaruffi
See also the The History of Rock Music and the The History of Pop Music
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(These are excerpts from my book "A History of Jazz Music")

Fusion groups

Rock music was largely a genre oriented towards the group, that downplayed the individual musician. Fusion jazz ended up imitating the praxis of rock music. The "stars" of fusion jazz were, first and foremost, the leaders of jazz-rock groups that, for all purposes, might have been simply rock groups.


Another candidate to inventor of jazz-rock was Texas-born white guitarist Larry Coryell. Relocating to New York in 1965, he formed an early jazz-rock group, the Free Spirits, that released Out of Sight And Sound (1966). After working in Gary Burton's quartet (1967-68), Coryell emerged as one of the most innovative electric and noisy guitarists of all time, competing with his more famous contemporary Jimi Hendrix. His early classics, frequently recorded in guitar-bass-drums trios, included: Stiff Neck on Lady Coryell (1968), featuring Elvin Jones on drums, that focused on Coryell's youthful speed and metal overtones (and, alas, his monotonous singing), The Jam With Albert on Coryell (april 1969), Wrong Is Right on Spaces (july 1970), featuring the stellar cast of John McLaughlin on guitar, Miroslav Vitous on bass and Billy Cobham on drums, Souls Dirge on Fairyland (june 1971). Coryell approached the intensity of progressive-rock with the 20-minute jam Call to the Higher Consciousness on Barefoot Boy (1971), featuring Steve Marcus on saxophones, Micheal Mandel on piano, Roy Haynes on drums, bass and percussion, and by now he was less interested in acrobatic solos than in group improvisation. After Offering (january 1972), a more straightforward quintet with Mandel and Marcus (Foreplay), and The Real Great Escape (1973), a pop album heavy on the vocals and the synthesizers, Coryell settled down with the quintet Eleventh House, soon destined to become one of the most famous jazz-rock groups of the 1970s (trumpet, bass, Alphonse Mouzon on percussion, Mike Mandel on piano and synthesizer), that released Introducing The Eleventh House (july 1974) and Level One (1975). TM, ®, Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.


Austrian-born conservatory-trained pianist Josef Zawinul emigrated to the United States in 1958 and joined Cannonball Adderley's quintet in 1962, rapidly becoming one of the most respected hard-bop pianists. After the prophetic The Rise And Fall Of The Third Stream (october 1967), mostly composed by tenor saxophonist William Fischer, Zawinul contributed to the electronic period of Miles Davis, and penned some of his best compositions, such as Pharaoh's Dance on Bitches Brew (1969). Zawinul de facto coined the atmospheric sound of Weather Report with Zawinul (august 1970), featuring trumpeter Woody Shaw, soprano saxophonist Earl Turbinton, pianist Herbie Hancock and bassist Miroslav Vitous. The ten-minute Double Image and the 14-minute Doctor Honoris Causa bridged hard-bop and jazz-rock, bypassing cool jazz and free jazz. Zawinul perfected his vision of the keyboards in the electronic age on the Weather Report albums. He and Annette Peacock can be credited with introducing electric and electronic keyboards into the jazz mainstream. TM, ®, Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.


Zawinul's intuition led to the birth of the second major group of jazz music (after the Modern Jazz Quartet). In 1970 tenor and soprano saxophonist Wayne Shorter and Austrian keyboardist Joe Zawinul (both veterans of Miles Davis' groups) joined forces with Czech bassist Miroslav Vitous, Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira and drummer Alphonse Mouzon to form Weather Report. Weather Report (february 1971) introduced a sophisticated blend of jazz improvisation, rock and funk rhythms, folk melodies and ethnic accents. Every member contributed with its own style of improvisation to the ethereal and delicate textures, but Zawinul towered over the others, defining the thick and slick arrangements with his electric and electronic effects, and penning the most ambitious compositions (Waterfall and especially Orange Lady). The personality of I Sing the Body Electric (january 1972), featuring two new percussionists and partly recorded live, was better distributed, with Zawinul's Unknown Soldier (an ambitious excursus from haunting to elegiac), Vitous' Crystal and Shorter's Surucucu (Roger Powell played synthesizer, one of the first on a jazz album). Weather Report popularized a kind of ensemble playing that was not quite group improvisation but was born out of the same principle of equality. All instruments contributed to the overall economy of the sound, each bringing both melodic and rhythmic elements. Emotional peaks were achieved when there was no soloist. The emancipation of the rhythm section from timekeeping roles liberated bass and percussion. The general attention to textural playing (instead of the traditional roles) contrived a homogeneous distribution of sound. Zawinul cast a huge shadow again on Sweetnighter (february 1973), an album that veered towards funky and Latin rhythms, indulged in the sound of the synthesizer, and relied almost entirely on two lengthy Zawinul compositions, Boogie Woogie Waltz and 125th Street Congress, that relied less on improvisation than on structure.
Alphonso Johnson replaced Vitous for Mysterious Traveller (may 1974), that included Zawinul's Nubian Sundance (with vocals) and Shorter's Mysterious Traveller. Tale Spinnin' (february 1975) was less subtle than its predecessors, showing how limited the possibilities were. But Jaco Pastorius replaced Alphonso Johnson on Black Market (january 1976), and his flamboyant style (guitar-like solos and electronic enhancements of the instrument) became the band's new attraction on Heavy Weather (october 1976), an album propelled in the charts by Zawinul's Birdland. Mr Gone (may 1978) sealed the marriage of Zawinul's presentation and Pastorius' verve with overdoses of electronics, dance rhythms and ethnic arrangements.
The group's albums were now highly predictable, a careful balance of danceable grooves and instrumental virtuosity, addressing a lucrative market with the surgical precision of a marketing analyst. Their last albums were mainly notable for Zawinul's reinvention of the synthesizer as a swinging and melodic instrument. TM, ®, Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.


British guitarist John McLaughlin was a product of the same British blues revival that spawned rock groups such as the Rolling Stones and Cream. When he formed his first quartet, with soprano and baritone saxophonist John Surman, a bassist and drummer Tony Oxley, McLaughlin was already 26. His debut album, Extrapolation (january 1969), entirely composed by him but mostly driven by Surman's improvisations, was a brilliant transposition of new trends (whether free jazz or progressive-rock or post-bop melody) into the open-minded milieu of the British intelligentsia. McLaughlin mesmerized both jazz and rock listeners with the crisp sound of his guitar (fitted with an electric pickup and heavy gauge strings).
The following month McLaughlin relocated to New York and joined both Miles Davis' group and Tony Williams' Lifetime.
His second album, My Goal's Beyond (march 1971), declared his passion for Indian music (Peace One and Peace Two) and experimented with the acoustic guitar on simple melodic themes (Follow Your Heart). Devotion (february 1970) was, for all practical purposes, an album of instrumental psychedelic-rock (guitar, organ, drum and bass), with the electric guitar unleashed to produce all sorts of ferocious sound effects. Nonetheless the eleven-minute Devotion still maintained the Indian attitude.
In july 1971 McLaughlin formed the Mahavishnu Orchestra, one of the premier electric fusion groups, with violinist Jerry Goodman, keyboardist Jan Hammer, electric bassist Rick Laird and drummer Billy Cobham. Despite the strong influence of Jimi Hendrix on their visceral solos and swirling rhythms, their virtuoso playing and delirious interplay created a new stereotype of fusion jazz. The Dance Of Maya and Meeting Of The Spirits, off The Inner Mounting Flame (august 1971), the ten-minute One Word, off Birds Of Fire (october 1972), the colossal The Dream, off the live Between Nothingness And Eternity (september 1973), were the most mind-bending work-outs, but many of their pieces had more to do with show business than with music. McLaughlin also vented his late-hippy spiritual enlightenment in duo with rock guitarist Carlos Santana, the cycle of devotional songs Love Devotion Surrender (march 1973). The original Mahavishnu Orchestra disbanded in 1973, but McLaughlin organized a new edition, featuring violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, that embarked in an ambitious collaboration with a symphony orchestra, Apocalypse (march 1974), arranged by Michael Gibbs. While less hyped than the early albums, this work, particularly the 20-minute Hymn To Him, was a truly innovative fusion of jazz, rock, Indian and classical elements. This edition of Mahavishnu Orchestra was terminated after the mediocre Visions Of The Emerald Beyond (december 1974) and the slightly more energetic and electronic Inner Worlds (august 1975).
McLaughlin formed the quintet Shakti with four Indian musicians (virtuoso violinist Lakshminarayana Shankar, tabla player Zakir Hussain and a mridangam player) to play acoustic music inspired to Indian music and Hindu religion, but preserving the high-octane, rocking approach of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. The music decayed rapidly from the avantgarde Shakti (july 1975), with the 29-minute pseudo-raga What Need Have I For This, to the delicately melodic A Handful Of Beauty (august 1976), to the almost poppy Natural Elements (july 1977).
McLaughlin also composed a Concerto for Guitar and Symphony Orchestra (1985), documented on Mediterranean Concerto (september 1988), and the three-movement suite Thieves And Poets for acoustic guitar and chamber orchestra, on Thieves And Poets (july 2002). TM, ®, Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.


Chicago-born drummer Jack DeJohnette briefly flirted with the AACM avantgarde but moved to New York and cut his teeth in Charles Lloyd's quartet (1966-67). After replacing Tony Williams in Miles Davis' group (1968-70), and after a few conventional records, his more experimental side came out with the two lengthy trio improvisations (Bennie Maupin on tenor saxophone and Gary Peacock on bass) of Have You Heard (april 1970), a 20-minute version of Papa-Daddy and Me and the 21-minute Have You Heard. His first group was a trio with a bassist and a drummer, documented on Compost (1971), on which he also played electric clavinet, organ and vibraphone. Sorcery (may 1974) collected two sessions, one (march) with Bennie Maupin on bass clarinet and John Abercrombie and Mick Goodrick on guitars (the 14-minute Sorcery #1) and one (may) with Dave Holland on bass (the seven-movement The Reverend King Suite). DeJohnette also played in Abercrombie's Gateway, a trio with bassist Dave Holland that released Gateway (1975) and Gateway 2 (1977). Pictures (february 1976), a duo album with Abercrombie, contained his extended percussion solo Picture 2 and his extended piano solo Picture 6.
His experiments deconstructing the cliches of jazz-rock continued with the quartet Directions (saxophones, Abercrombie's guitar, bass and drums) and its cerebral extended pieces: the 14-minute Flying Spirits, on Untitled (february 1976), also featuring a pianist, Minya's the Moon and New Rags on New Rags (may 1977), with DeJohnette doubling on piano, Bayou Fever and Where or Wayne on New Directions (june 1978), that introduced a new line-up (Abercrombie, Chicago trumpeter Lester Bowie and bassist Eddie Gomez).
A new quartet with David Murray on tenor and bass clarinet, Arthur Blythe on alto, Peter Warren on bass and cello, that ranked as one of the most innovative fusion groups of the era, debuted on Special Edition (march 1979), containing some of DeJohnette's most challenging music: the ten-minute One For Eric, the eleven-minute Zoot Suite and the eight-minute Journey To The Red Planet. Replacing the saxophonists with tenorist Chico Freeman and altoist John Purcell, Tin Can Alley (september 1980) and Inflation Blues (september 1982) further broadened the stylistic palette via adventurous pieces such as Tin Can Alley and the 13-minute Pastel Rhapsody on the former, Ebony, Islands and Starbust on the latter. While technically not particularly revolutionary, DeJohnette was proving to be one of the most accomplished composers among the drummers of all times. Special Edition became a quintet for Album Album (june 1984), with David Murray returning on tenor and the addition of Howard Johnson's tuba, and the music (with the exception of Third World Anthem) was becoming not only more eclectic but also much more accessible.
After a futuristic soundtrack for a videogame, Zebra (may 1985), scored only for synthesizer (DeJohnette himself) and trumpet (Lester Bowie), DeJohnette resurrected the moniker Special Edition for Irresistible Force (january 1987) and Audio-Visualscapes (february 1988), but the players were all new (reed player Gary Thomas, saxophonist Greg Osby, electric bass and electric guitar) and the sound was updated to the new fashions of funk-jazz fusion. Earthwalk (june 1991) added Michael Cain's electronic keyboards and further stretched the compositions (On Golden Beams, Earth Walk, Monk's Plumb).
Another intriguing project was the shamanic Music For The Fifth World (february 1992), for a rock-ish quintet featuring guitarists Vernon Reid and John Scofield and a choir, drummer Will Calhoun and bassist Lonnie Plaxico (and with DeJohnette doubling on vocals and synthesizer). The pagan and spiritual phase led to the 20-minute Dancing With Nature Spirits and the 22-minute Healing Song For Mother Earth for a trio of keyboards, reeds and percussion, off Dancing with Nature Spirits (may 1995). It then transitioned to the spiritual and intimate Oneness (january 1997) and imploded into the 61-minute keyboard meditation Music In the Key of Om (august 2003). TM, ®, Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.


While still playing with Art Blakey and Max Roach, alto saxophonist Gary Bartz debuted as a leader with Libra (june 1967). His style was still derivative of bebop but his compositions were already first-rate, and the 24-minute suite Another Earth for a sextet featuring trumpeter Charles Tolliver, tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, pianist Stanley Cowell and bassist Reggie Workman, off Another Earth (june 1968), proved it. After Home (march 1969), Bartz replaced Wayne Shorter in Miles Davis' group. Influenced by Davis as well as by John Coltrane and by rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix, Bartz formed NTU Troop in 1970 to play a high-energy fusion of soul, funk, jazz and rock on Harlem Bush Music - Taifa (november 1970), ruined by Andy Bey's vocals (and lyrics), Juju Street Songs (october 1972), that flirted with soul music between the mildly exotic Teheran and the Coltrane-ian Sifa Zote, Follow The Medicine Man (october 1972), with the funk workout Dr Follow's Dance, the live I've Known Rivers And Other Bodies (july 1973), with pianist Hubert Eaves replacing Bey and the Afro-spiritual hymns Ju Ju Man and I've Known Rivers ruined by Bartz's own vocals, and Singerella - A Ghetto Fairy Tale (february 1974), with Bartz also playing synthesizer. That marked the beginning of Bartz's career as a guru of electronic funk, starting with The Shadow Do (1975) and Music Is My Sanctuary (1977). TM, ®, Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.


After drumming in the jazz-rock group Dreams, that included trumpeter Randy Brecker, saxophonist Michael Brecker and guitarist John Abercrombie, and a brief stint with Miles Davis, Billy Cobham joined John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra (1971-73) and his drumming maelstroms soon became one of the most characteristic elements of their sound. After parting with McLaughlin, Cobham formed Spectrum, one of the premier groups of jazz, funk and rock fusion. Spectrum (may 1973), featuring a quartet with keyboardist Jan Hammer, heavy-metal guitarist Tommy Bolin and electric bassist Lee Sklar, upped the ante of fusion jazz with incendiary jams such as Stratus. Crosswinds (august 1973) featured his old fellow Dreams members Abercrombie, Randy Brecker and Michael Brecker, plus keyboardist George Duke, trombone and bass and Latin percussion. It contained the 17-minute four-movement suite Spanish Moss, that proved Cobham was also a sophisticated composer. Total Eclipse (1974) featured a similar line-up in extended (the suite Solarization, the ten-minute Sea Of Tranquillity) as well as concise (the catchy Moon Germs) pieces that relied more on group interplay than on individual bombastic playing. The live Shabazz (july 1974) added two lengthy jams, Shabazz and Tenth Pin. While not even remotely subtle, the sound was becoming more cerebral and introspective. Later, with John Scofield replacing Abercrombie, the sound veered towards danceable funk music. TM, ®, Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.


White guitarist John Abercrombie made a sensation in 1970 when he joined Dreams, a jazz-rock group led by Michael and Randy Brecker. His debut album Timeless (1974), in a trio with keyboardist Jan Hammer and drummer Jack DeJohnette, wed a lyrical while rocking approach to the guitar (more prominent in the eleven-minute Timeless) with visceral keyboards-driven fusion jazz (Hammer's 12-minute Lungs). At the same time, in 1974 Abercrombie joined Billy Cobham's Spectrum, a group that basically reunited him with the Breckers. His command of tone became legendary. Abercrombie, DeJohnette and bassist Dave Holland formed the trio Gateway, that released Gateway (march 1975) and Gateway 2 (july 1977), mostly composed by Holland. Abercrombie also played in DeJohnette's Directions (1976) and New Directions (1978).
However, Abercrombie's musical persona was better represented by the most humble records of that period. Sargasso Sea (may 1976), a duo album with fellow guitarist Ralph Towner, contrasted Abercrombie's lively and intricate style with Towner's impressionistic and transcendent style in some of Abercrombie's most atmospheric compositions (Fable). The solo album Characters (november 1977) was a showcase of his vibrant technique and of his unnerving compositions (Parable, Ghost Dance, Evensong).
Abercrombie recycled his elegant fusion style in the company of different line-ups: the quartet with pianist Richard Beirach that debuted on Arcade (december 1978), with Arcade, the trio with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Peter Erskine that debuted on Current Events (1985), with the dreamy Still, the new guitar-organ-drums trio, best heard on Open Land (september 1998), that also featured violinist Mark Feldman, trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and tenorist Joe Lovano.
Best was the quartet that he formed with violinist Mark Feldman, drummer Joey Baron and bassist Marc Johnson. The guitarist's compositions, such as the waltzing A Nice Idea and Soundtrack on Cat'n'Mouse (december 2000), or Dansir and Descending Grace on Class Trip (february 2003), were majestic and haunting, while the performances were often mesmerizing (Feldman's work in Third Stream Samba on the former and in Excuse My Shoes on the latter). TM, ®, Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.


Philadelphia-born white tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker and his brother, trumpeter Randy Brecker, an original founder of the rock group Blood, Sweat and Tears, formed the jazz-rock outfit, Dreams, that included John Abercrombie on guitar and Billy Cobham on drums, and released Dreams (december 1970) and Imagine My Surprise (1971). Michael Brecker also joined Billy Cobham's group (1974), where they basically reunited with the members of Dreams. However, Michael and Randy Brecker also created a fusion band out of a group of veteran session-men such as alto saxophonist David Sanborn and keyboardist Don Grolnick. Most of their sophisticated and intricate material was composed by Randy Brecker. The compositions and the improvisation on Brecker Brothers (january 1975), with their signature tune Some Skunk Funk and the lengthy A Creature Of Many Faces, made for some of the most adventurous and innovative fusion sound of the era, bridging the world of bebop and hard bop with the world of funk-jazz, although subsequent albums rapidly descended into trivial dance music: Back to Back (1975), that also added guitarist Steve Kahn, Don't Stop the Music (1977), with Funky Sea Funky Dew and Squids, Heavy Metal Bebop (1978), that added Inside Out to their repertory and was perhaps the best display of their electronically-modified horns, Detente (1980), dominated by keyboardist George Duke, and Straphangin' (1980).
In the meantime, Michael Brecker played on many albums by other artists, including Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon. In particular, he participated in the recording of veteran pop-jazz arranger Claus Ogerman's ballet Some Times (originally composed in 1972) for Gate of Dreams (october 1976). They collaborated again on Cityscape (january 1982), that contained Ogerman's three-movement suite In The Presence And Absence Of Each Other arranged for jazz band and strings.
Michael Brecker then joined Mike Mainieri's Steps Ahead (1981-86), with whom he refined his electronic sound.
He finally debuted as a leader with Michael Brecker (1986), that featured guitarist Pat Metheny, keyboardist Kenny Kirkland, bassist Charlie Haden, and drummer Jack DeJohnette, emphasized Brecker's unique style at the "electronic wind instrument" and introduced Becker's compositional skills, very much in the bebop vein (Syzygy). The music rapidly progressed towards a facile mainstream sound engineered by the producer, and group interplay more and more reminiscent of John Coltrane, on Don't Try This at Home (1988), with Don't Try This at Home and Itsbynne Reel (both co-written by pianists Don Grolnick), Now You See It Now You Don't (1990), that added a synthesizer, Tales from the Hudson (january 1996), with African Skies, Two Blocks from the Edge (december 1997), with Two Blocks from the Edge and with pianist Joey Calderazzo frequently stealing the show, Time Is of the Essence (1999), virtually a Coltrane tribute thanks to Brecker's extended compositions Arc of the Pendulum and Outrance.
Wide Angles (january 2003), credited to the Quindectet, a 15-piece ensemble with trumpet, trombone (Robin Eubanks), oboe, French horn, violin (Mark Feldman), cello (Eric Friedlander), bass (John Patitucci), guitar and accordion, but no keyboards, was the first significant change in his career. Showing that he matured immensely as a composer, Brecker crafted the luxuriant Scylla and Timbuktu, while displaying his introspective bebop side. TM, ®, Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.


The all-white group Oregon was an offshoot of Paul Winter's Consort, featuring four of Winter's best discoveries: acoustic guitarist Ralph Towner (also on piano), bassist Glen Moore (also on flute), percussionist Collin Walcott (tabla, sitar) and oboe player Paul McCandless (also on English horn). Oregon (named after Towner's and Moore's home state) basically continued Winter's mystical exploration of ethnic styles but shifting the emphasis towards textures and timbres, and, ultimately, towards chamber music. Their sophisticated interplay of improvisation and composition, jazz and classical music, world and folk music secreted the metaphysical miniatures of Music Of Another Present Era (1972) and the complex spiritual journeys of Distant Hills (july 1973). The latter showed the members maturing also as composers, not only soundsculptors, notably with Mi Chinita Suite and Towner's Aurora and Distant Hills. Towner rapidly became the main composer of the group, specializing in chromatic kaleidoscopes that incorporated elements of jazz, raga, flamenco, classical music and medieval dance: Tide Pool and Ghost Beads on Winter Light (august 1974), Le Vin and Brujo on Together (january 1976), a collaboration with veteran drummer Elvin Jones, Interstate on Friends (1977), Raven's Wood on Violin (1978), that also contained the (unusual for them) group improvisation Violin with Polish violinist Zbigniew Seifert, Yellow Bell and Waterwheel on Out Of The Woods (april 1978), Vessel on Roots In The Sky (december 1978). The basic medium remained the same: baroque calligraphy, lyrical longing and austere composure. A touch of electronics and jazzier overtones accounted for the more introspective and hermetic sound of Oregon (february 1983) and Crossing (october 1984). TM, ®, Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

In 1973 Miles Davis' pianist Lonnie-Liston Smith formed the Cosmic Echoes (sax, guitar, piano, bass, drums and exotic percussions). Astral Traveling (1973) offered a mellow and mostly melodic sound imbued with Eastern spirituality. But Smith soon turned towards even smoother elements of funk and soul music on albums such as Expansions (november 1974). TM, ®, Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.


Steps Ahead was formed by vibraphonist Mike Mainieri as a vehicle to bring together some white New York virtuosi in a fusion group. The line-up on Step By Step (december 1980) included tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker, pianist Don Grolnick, bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Steve Gadd. The supergroup continued to supply technical mastery but little emotion on Paradox (september 1981), with Peter Erskine replacing Gadd, and Steps Ahead (1983), with Eliane Elias replacing Grolnick (who nonetheless contributed the best track, Pools), before going electronic with Modern Times (february, 1984), thanks to new keyboardist Warren Bernhardt. TM, ®, Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.


Texan drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson, who relocated to New York in 1966, was influenced by his three main sessions of his career, Ornette Coleman's Dancing in Your Head (1976), Cecil Taylor's Unit (1978) and James "Blood" Ulmer's Are You Glad To Be In America (1980), to start his own group, the Decoding Society. Their debut album, Eye On You (1980), for an octet with violinist Billy Bang, saxophonists Byard Lancaster and Charles Brackeen, guitarist Vernon Reid, two bassists (including Melvin Gibbs), was still a transitional work fragmented into short unpretentious pieces (notably the catchy Apache Cry Love), but Nasty (march 1981), featuring a tighter nonet with Reid, Gibbs, three saxophonists and vibraphonist Khan Jamal, boasted the ten-minute Black Widow and the eleven-minute When We Return that clearly stated Jackson's purpose: revise Ornette Coleman's harmolodic principle, as embodied by his Prime Time, while adding disproportionate doses of funk and rock. Jackson pursued a turbulent and intricate synthesis of composition and improvisation not in the sense that they coexist and complement each other but in the sense that they contrast and antagonize each other. This hybrid of free and fusion jazz was perfected on Street Priest (june 1981), with two new saxophonists and Mandance (june 1982), with a trumpet and only one saxophone, with the drumming hanging halfway between Tony Williams and Sunny Murray, but leaning towards the former, and further stimulated by the dual bass attack and by Reid's explosive (and sometimes electronic) guitar riffs. A complacent routine led from Barbeque Dog (march 1983) to less and less consistent albums. TM, ®, Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.


Out of St Louis' avantgarde community came trombonist Joseph Bowie, Lester's younger brother, but he had a completely different agenda. After moving in 1973 to New York with Bobo Shaw's Human Arts Ensemble, Joseph Bowie got involved with various rhythm'n'blues projects and with "no wave" saxophonist James Chance.
Despite playing with the likes of Cecil Taylor, Frank Lowe, Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, Charlie Haden and David Murray, Bowie continued to mine the danceable side of the equation and in 1978 formed his own funk-jazz-rock band, Defunkt, whose dancefloor hits were Make Them Dance, off Defunkt (1980), the single Razor's Edge (1981), and Avoid the Funk, off Thermonuclear Sweat (may 1982). TM, ®, Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

Former Pat Metheny's bassist Mark Egan and drummer Danny Gottlieb formed Elements in 1982 with saxophonist Bill Evans and keyboardist Clifford Carter. Albums such as Elements (january 1982), Illumination (august 1987) and Spirit River (february 1990) were quintessential examples of relaxing pop-jazz ambience.


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TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi. All rights reserved.