Thursday, 12 May 2011

The Idea of Fusion – The Fusion of Ideas (Part 1)

Most artists and connoisseurs of music have had a love-hate relationship with the term “fusion”. At its worst, it’s taking a tradition and scotch-taping it on top of another. Under the right circumstances, this scenario can produce amazing results. For the most part, however, the “tape-job” is evident.

Borrowing traditions from other parts of the world is the most common form of fusion, whether you’re dealing with a rock group inserting classical Indian music, or a jazz quartet playing in odd times based on Bulgarian folk music. Well here is where we get ourselves in a pickle: if we, the musician, learn the melody of a traditional Bulgarian or Indian song, and then immediately proceed to solo using the vocabulary of jazz that we’re comfortable with, we quickly lose the sound of Bulgarian or Indian music we claim as inspiration. Therein lies the challenge: how to fuse styles yet sound inspired, authentic and original?

At its best, fusion seems to move music forward and create new voices, new ideas and new directions. This is the fusion that we love. Jazz is particularly suited to the idea of fusion, mostly due to its improvisational nature. The term Jazz Fusion was minted in the 60’s when jazz musicians would start exploring the rhythms of Funk, R&B, as well as distortion and other effects of Rock. Keith Jarret, Miles Davis and Chic Corea, to name a few, were at the forefront of this movement.

Corea, who was a percussionist before playing the keys, very quickly found a balance of the complexity of jazz, and the energy and sound of Rock and Funk. Always moving forward with his groups, Chic Corea to this day seems to be at the helm. Here is an Electronic Press Kit of Corea`s new project Return to Forever IV which will be playing at the Ottawa International Jazz Festival Monday June 27th at 8:30pm.

Chick Corea - Return to Forever IV EPK from Jimmy Collins on Vimeo.

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