Monthly Archives: April 2009

Len Lynch and Dick Cheney on fusion

I didn’t think it was possible, but Len Lynch posted this comment in defense of fusion that actually pulls it off.

LOL. I think it’s interesting and funny that Jeff Beck (and Zappa) get kudos for fusion. Especially, when Lucas pans Return to Forever.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t disagree that “Wired” isn’t amazing. It’s been a while since I listened to it well, but one of the best things about this album is what Jan Hammer brings to it. Rocked-up jazz, Hammer knows how. I’m not taking *anything* away from Beck on this either. The two of them really make that album something special. The “jazz” part of the fusion is about the interaction. The “fusion” part, if anyone has that figured out, I’d like to hear it. I also really love Becks playing on “Blow by Blow” as well, but I see that album as a bit more experimental. Experimental in the way that Hendrix was inventing jazzier funk, wanting pop and soul to go new places… It’s the entry ramp toward a full-on embrace of electric jazz on “Wired”.

Jan Hammer is also very much key to the albums mentioned for the Mahavishnu Orchestra (MO). I like their “Inner Mounting Flame” album a lot. Mock away if you must, They’ve learned a lot about recording jazz violin since then ;) So now that you’ve guys have got me thinking about it, I need to rediscover Jan Hammer and those he has worked with… Thanks for that!

Since we’re on MO, don’t forget Billy Cobham’s “Spectrum”, Tommy Bolin brings it.

I don’t dislike Return to Forever, “Romantic Warrior” sticks for me, but I wanted to like it. The appeal of “chops porn” is specialized (and it says something about those of us that like aspects of it). I also have a soft spot for Clarke’s “School Days”. Color these guilty pleasures, but isn’t all jazz fusion a bit like that? Then there’s prog-rock, now there’s another post ripe for eye-rolling and “yeah, but”-ing.

OK, if you’re going to mock, you better back it up, be specific now, if it’s emotional, use good metaphors, etc…

I love early Pat Methany, but I have a hard time thinking of this as jazz fusion.

The Flecktones are amazing and possibly the only living jazz fusion group that has embraced “chops porn” and not let it devour them whole.

We have to mention Joni Mitchell’s embracing of fusion… And there’s that Jaco again contributing to her seduction. I love Jaco’s technique and approach. But “Hissing of Summer Lawns” is what started her down the jazzy path and is still my favorite since she branched out. Her “Miles of Asiles” live album is also great with Tom Scott’s LA Express (Robin Ford!) painting sound moods. So if we need a collective reason for dissin’ fusion, we can point to the seduction of Joni… Peace Joni!

Of course I don’t know anything anyway. So what’s your issue with fusion? I love that pop musicians embraced more jazz, and a few actually won. I love that jazz musicians embraced more pop and when they used restraint, we all won.

Len asks what my beef is, and he’s right. I do owe more than snooty posturing. So, to explain my position, I will paraphrase Dick Cheney’s comments on torturing terrorists. The following is what the former vice president of the united states would have said in defense of torturing jazz fusion artists, if it had been they who attacked us on September 11.

When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to [jazz rock fusion artist] than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to [people with ears], then I worry…. These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.

If it hadn’t been for what we did—with respect to the…enhanced interrogation techniques for [jazz rock fusion artists]…—then we would have been attacked again. Those policies we put in place, in my opinion, were absolutely crucial to getting us through the last seven-plus years without a major-casualty [chops porn version of “Birdland”] on the US….

Now I’m really interested in Jan Hammer, BTW. I’m going to go track down more of his stuff. And not just to imprison it.

the jazz fusion challenge

Go ahead and name jazz fusion that you like, I dare you.

Here’s Victor Stone‘s list:

“Wired”

“Blow by Blow”

“Headhunters”

grand-daddy “Bitches Brew”

jaco pastorius

return to forever

all hold up pretty decent for me. pieces like “spain” and “birdland” have more than survived.

having said that, the dazzling stuff got annoying quick.

Warning: I am NOT promising that I will not mock you. For example, if you still think that Return To Forever is ok.

For myself, I’ll definitely buy in on the Jeff Beck. The Headhunters, ok, fair enough. Bitches Brew is IMO really not that great, but I realize that this may just be me. Jaco Pastorius whatever — see also Randy Rhodes. Birdland… I can’t even discuss it.

OTOH I still dig Steve Vai’s playing. Not that he’s fusion, just that he’s low concept + high execution.

on mail listing your friends

Mail arrives from a friend, or at least somebody you know well enough to have them in your address book. But it isn’t to you, it’s a mass blast to everybody in their address book. And they didn’t even use a cc: list, they created a little mailing list. The return address is a person’s email, but you, you’re just a listing.

Ok, first off, this is rude.

Second, it makes the return email address useless. It used to signify an individual that you might correspond with, but now it means you’ve got junk mail, or at least bulk mail.

If you do this to me, it means that any personal mail you do send will either get auto deleted by my junk filter or it will get moved into the folder for noisy bulk mess that I rarely read.

But then again, I realize that people who do this are burning the personal friendship for the sake of a work project. When you join their bulk mailing list it means you’re dead to them but might be good for something after all.

Guardian piece on Massive Attack sample sources

This piece in the Guardian is a thoughtful perspective on the artistic aspects of sampling: An unofficial compilation of tracks sampled by Massive Attack showcases the group’s aesthetic through the songs that informed it – and provides fans with the thrill of discovering the originals

Sampling is weird. We’re so used to it, it’s been such a commonplace part of pop music for so long (since the late 1980s), that it’s easy to lose sight of what a peculiar thing it is. … To take a chunk of living time – which is what a sample is – and chain it into a loop isn’t just appropriation, it’s a form of enslavement.

No, it’s healthy culture in a free society.

A lot of musicians bitch about about how people who sample them shape their voice into a form they didn’t intend. They don’t want their song used in a commercial for Hitler, for example. (“Not just for breakfast anymore!”) But it’s contributing to reuse and appropriation that give the song meaning. The value of music is in how it’s used. Music on a pedestal is useless.


The original guardian piece has this YouTube video of Billy Cobham’s band performing a song which I know through the Massive Attack sample:

Cobham was a jazz fusion player. He’s a fine drummer but his writing and his band gross me out. In the Massive Attack reuse 20 years later, though, I loved his thing. The moral of the story is that the musician is never fully in control of the stuff that makes his work valuable. Billy Cobham thought his writing and band were part of the package, but really they were just a tax you had to pay to hear his drumming. People who sampled him knew that, even though he didn’t, and they fixed the problem in a way that he never could have.

shakeout news

hypebot: “Free” Thinker – The Orchard’s Greg Scholl:

On a cautionary note, however, we harbor increasing concerns about the long-term viability of many of the new ad supported businesses. The fact is, CPMs have been disappointing. Unless services get a lot smarter about helping advertisers hyper-target audiences using very detailed demographic information and are able to staff experience ad sales teams to engage advertisers and translate this into higher CPMs, then it is difficult to conceive of how these services will survive. Certainly, speaking on behalf of The Orchard at least, we won’t continue to license them.

Very few entities have both the density of users to hyper-target ads and the mass to deliver a significant number of impressions to a major advertiser. Only the biggest sites can do it. You’d have to be on the order of Myspace, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft.