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.

3 thoughts on “Len Lynch and Dick Cheney on fusion

  1. Well played, I should re-read my posts out loud before posting, too. I could have dialed it back a smiggin ;) Thanks for the follow-up post. I am smiling, I like where you are going with this topic. You’re clearly the better word-smith.

    It’s hard to defend jazz fusion, or at least what the ancient record companies wanted to market as such. I don’t think it’s as hard to defend the artists. I’m guessing that Steve Vai can say some positive things about Al DiMeola… I mean do we really know what they threatened these guys with if they didn’t “give up” something even more over the top than the previous release? If you’re going to talk torture, let’s focus on the facts, shall we?

    After thinking about it: it’s at “the edges of fusion” where we find the joy. Artists have to have the chops to go to that irritating place, but the fact that they don’t go there, that’s where there’s magic.

    Again, I don’t know anything, really. But to my ears, some of what Lucas points to as bad fusion, is jazz porn that tries to stay away (or succeeds in staying away) from “a groove”. Is that fair to ask?

    BTW, the MMW grooves are killa’…

  2. The whole style was a mixed bag, and the good stuff that people loved over the long term was barely visible at the time. EG the Herbie Hancock stuff that got absorbed into rap. The Billy Cobham -> Massive Attack thing. The John Zorn / Massaker angle.

    Yeah, I’d agree that porn jazz secretly wanted to be soul jazz. IE, the stuff with the slinky grooves under unnecessarily tricky lines that all the melody instruments played together.

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