Various Artists – Jazz Fusion (1996)

FrontCover1Jazz fusion, fusion, or jazz rock is a musical genre that developed in the late 1960s from mixing funk and rhythm and blues rhythms with the electric instruments, amplified sound, electronic effects and playing styles of rock music together with jazz’s complex time signatures (which were derived from non-Western music) and jazz’s complex chord progressions and altered and extended chords. Fusion musicians typically create extended instrumental compositions based around a melody and a chord progression and lengthy solo improvisations. Fusion songs use brass instruments such as trumpet and saxophone as melody and soloing instruments. The rhythm section typically consists of electric bass (in some cases fretless), electric guitar, electric piano/synthesizer (in contrast to the double bass and piano used in earlier jazz) and drums. As with jazz forms that preceded fusion, all of the instruments–including the rhythm section instruments–are used as soloing instruments and all demonstrate a high level of instrumental technique.

FusionJazzThe term “jazz-rock” is often used as a synonym for “jazz fusion” as well as for music performed by late 1960s and 1970s-era rock bands that added jazz elements to their music. It is different from the UK Canterbury Scene’s progressive rock (“prog”) and other forms of prog-jazz fusion, in which extended prog instrumentals use improvisation and take on a jazz-influenced feel. After a decade of popularity during the 1970s, fusion expanded its improvisatory and experimental approaches through the 1980s, in parallel with the development of a radio-friendly style called smooth jazz. Experimentation continued in the 1990s and 2000s. Fusion albums, even those that are made by the same group or artist, may include a variety of musical styles. Rather than being a codified musical style, fusion can be viewed as a musical tradition or approach. (by wikipedia)

And this is just a sampler with Jazz Fusion … maybe it´s time for you to discover this kind of music … certainly not the worst idea. ! Most of the tracks were recorded during the Seventies … a golden decade for Fusion Jazz !

BackCover1Tracklist:
01. George Benson: Take Five (1974) (Desmond) 3.43
02. Herbie Hancock: Watermelon Man (1974) (Hancock) 5.00
03. Earth Wind & Fire: Love Music (1978) (Scarborough) 3.57
04. Astrud Gilberto: Zazueira (1971) (Ben) 3.42
05. Keith Jarrett: Common Mama (1972) (Jarrett) 8.12
06. Ned Doheny: To Prove My Love (1976) (Doheny) 4.50
07. Ramsey Lewis: Tequila Mockingbird (1977) (Dunn) 5.27
08. George Duke: Look Waht You Find (1979) (Duke) 4.46
09. Deodato: Super Strut (1973) (Deodato) 4.58
10. Stanley Clarke: Rock N Roll Jelly (1979) (Clarke) 2.36
11. Hubert Laws: Family (1980) (Laws) 7.30
12. Lee Ritenour: Theme From Three Day Of The Condor (1976) (Grusin) 4.07
13, Bill Withers: Use (1985) (Withers) 3.49
14. Santana: Tales Of Kilimanjaro (1981) (Santana/Peraza/Rekow/Pasqua) 3.29
15. Weather Report: Black Market (1976) (Zawinul) 6.14
16. Grover Washington Jr.: Love Like This (1992) (Roman/Cox) 4.49

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Dave Grusin & Lee Ritenour – Harlequin (1985)

CDFrontCover1Sizzling from start to finish, “Harlequin” is the result of one of the most intuitive partnerships in the world of jazz.

Although Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin had been working together for a decade, “Harlequin” is regarded by the two musicians as their first genuine recorded collaboration, whereby from original concept, through selection of tracks and personnel to arrangements and mixing, it was truly a joint effort.

Included in the top ten best jazz recordings ever by a noted poll, “Harlequin” is a blend of smoldering Brazilian rhythms and moods with a freshness and verve that brings on a tingle of excitement each time it is played.

The scintillating jazz fusion of “Harlequin” includes added spice in the form of a major contribution by Brazilian singer-songwriter Ivan Lins who appears on three tracks.

The energy which infuses  the entire album is sparked from the first notes of the title track, an exotic, exuberant Ivan Lins song, with the composer adding vocals which are akin to a beautiful musical instrument.  You can see him doing the song on the video and DVD of “Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin Live From the Record Plant.”

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Dave Grusin wrote the next piece, the glittering “Early A.M. Attitude.”  The optimistic track was a Grammy-award winner, and is a #1 favorite of many fans.  With the late Carlos Vega on drums, a live performance can be enjoyed on the “Live in Session” video, respectively on the “GRP All-Stars Live from the Record Plant video/DVD.

Lee Ritenour’s “San Ysidro  “ brings a change of tone – thoughtful, romantic, and evocative, clearly indicating the composer’s unabashed love affair with Brazilian sounds and feelings.

More earthy Latin enchantment follows with another Ivan Lins performance on “Before It’s Too Late,” which positively glows with passion. Insistent and  melodic , the scorching rendition is a knockout.  (He also sings it on the video/DVD “GRP All-Stars Live From The Record Plant.”)

Dave Grusin’s traditional “solo” is up next, but this time Lee Ritenour’s guitar plays along in such a sympathetic way that one feels nothing is missed from the usual intimacy of the pianist playing alone.  “Silent Message” Indeed offers the feeling of a cryptic communication which must be decoded.  There is a genuine cerebral element to the piece, as it progresses along, as if ponderously seeking an answer to a dilemma.  Entrancing and almost hypnotic, the romantic side of the piece is beautifully enhanced by the melodic guitar.
When the ensemble launches intoDon Grusin’s “Cats of Rio,” you know they’re talking about an ultra swinging lot.  With Latin rhythms enhanced by the percussion of Paulinho Da Costa, this is smooth jazz fused into a perfect and spirited package, from beginning to end.

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Ivan Lins returns on “Beyond The Storm,” which mixes the singer’s torchy vocals with a smooth-as-silk backing by Dave Grusin and Lee Ritenour, as well as sensitive percussion from Alex Acuna and Paulinho Da Costa.

The title of Lee Ritenour’s composition “Gridlock” almost seems an acronym for this quintessential smooth jazz, being the very opposite of caught up in tension. It’s more like an exquisite and delicately designed pattern.

Harvey Mason’s and Mike Lang’s “The Bird” provides a gentle and delightful finish to the album (with Mason himself on drums).  Summing up the moods and rhythms of the “Harlequin” project, it’s so beautifully balanced, you could leave this track playing on for hours.

The striking contribution of Ivan Lins on this album involves an interesting history.  At its roots is Lee Ritenour’s unending fascination with the music of Brazil.  He began collecting the singer-songwriter’s albums when recording “Rio” there in 1979, but missed a chance to meet the artist who was on tour at the time.  Meanwhile, his collection of Ivan Lins recordings was growing with his admiration.

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When Lee Ritenour shared the collection with Dave Grusin, it can be no surprise that the latter was equally enchanted.  For one thing, they knew they wanted to include some of the Brazilian’s songs on a joint venture they were planning.  The next inspiration was to invite him to sing on the album, and from this a wonderful  three-way friendship evolved.

So much so that when they decided to cap the “Harlequin” venture with an extensive tour, it seemed an impossibility to do so without the participation of Ivan Lins.  That tour (also including Diane Schuur and Dave Valentin), which began in Atlanta in May 1985, took the group across the US and Europe, and concluded in a filmed concert at the Record Plant in Los Angeles, the videos of which have been referred to above.

For those attracted to the musical tech side of things, “Harlequin” is interesting for the hybrid nature of instruments used by the principals.  Lee Ritenour is playing mostly the Yamaha classical guitar -mixed acoustically and plugged into amplifiers.  His secondary instrument of choice was a Gibson Chet Atkins classical electric guitar.

Besides using a variety of synthesizers and acoustic piano, Dave Grusin also enlisted Randy Goodrum’s midi acoustic piano (a combination acoustic piano which can trigger synthesizers).  As Lee Ritenour explains, “What ends up sounding like many overdubbed parts is in fact one performance. Once in a while, technology does help.” (Dave Grusin)

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Personnel:
Paulinho Da Costa (percussion)
Dave Grusin (keyboards)
Jimmy Johnson (bass)
Lee Ritenour (guitar)
Drums – Carlos Vega (drums)
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Alex Acuña (percussion on 01. + 04.)
Ivan Lins (vocals on 01. + 04.)
Abraham Laboriel (bass on 05. + 08.)
Harvey Mason (drums on 05. + 08.)

Background vocals on 01. + 04.:
Carol Rogers – Marietta Waters -Regina Werneck
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Tracklist:
01. Harlequin (Arlequim Desconhecido) (Lins/Martins) 4.40
02. Early A.M. Attitude (Grusin) 4.58
03. San Ysidro (Ritenour) 4.57
04. Before It´s Too Late (Antes Que Seja Tarde) (Lins/Martins) 5.16
05. Cats Of Rio (Grusin) 5.15
06. Grid-Lock (Ritenour) 4.02
07. Silent Message (Grusin) 6.07
08. The Bird (Mason/Lang) 4.45

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