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Differences between the old and the new Fusion?

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Does anyone else here the difference between fusion of the 70s and today's versions?

I mentioned I listen to Pandora radio at work. It's a Mahavishnu channel. Going back and forth between the old groups and new recordings there seems to be a really great difference in compositions. The MO, RTF, Ponty, Weather Report, Passport, Tony's Lifetime, Jeff Beck's fusion forays, et al, and then the solo projects, had real compositions and an actual band 'sound.' There was a lot of soloing, too but, today it just seems the new bands, many of them with well known artists at every position, just play an opening riff, a bunch of solos follow, then back to the riff and out. I have to walk over to the radio to see who I'm listening to and when I see it's 'him' and 'him' and 'him' (last name trios) and there is no "sound" I find it surprising. Most of the time I cannot recognize the drumming on many of these recordings. Chambers I recognize when a drum solo hits. I always tend to recognize Allan Holdsworth's individual sound. Same with Wooten on bass. Otherwise ... it's all kind of generic sounding. The old bands are gone, by and large but, when I hear the lead members of those bands today, like Chick, on new projects, I still hear their sound and sense of composition.

Is it just me or does anyone else hear the same kind of thing?

View user profile http://drumsinhisheart.weebly.com
For me, the approach has really changed. but I think it
has to because of the difference in recording quality.

Back in the day, fusion was more raw than it is now.
The precision and timing wasn't has crucial then as it is
today. The form was much more loose in the 70's. Fusion
took on a whole new theme in the 90's. Spot on precision
became more prevalent, rhythmically, timing and notationally
speaking. In the 70's even into the 80's a tad, fusion was
being pioneered and there were a lot of experimental things
going on.

I think with today's high quality recording technology the fusion
of yesteryear would be hard pressed to have the same impact as
I think the recording technology gave the music a certain energy
that just can't be captured with the same music today. This may
very well be the reason why the RTF reunion tour didn't bowl people
over. They played all the notes but couldn't capture the energy.
And yes I know these were live performances but all this new gear
is so clean today that it really doesn't do that music justice either
in the studio or on stage.

Even when watching and listening to Billy play the Spectrum tunes
today. Sounds great but there's something missing and I believe it's
that raw sound from back in the day. Everything had bite, attack.
Every note bit your head off! When Billy did a power roll across those
High pitched, neck snapping vibe toms it was as if slapped you right
out of your seat! No they have heads for this and heads for that.
No attack here, quieter there.... Back then nobody gave a damn.
It was about being the loudest and the baddest. No nonsense.

Listen to Tommy's solo on Quadrant 4. No technique to discuss here,
he just ripped your throat out with his tone as well as his playing
approach. Thus again, when you here the music of that era being
played today, because of all the technical advancements, much of
the impact and spirit is simply lost because of it.

All that being said. I like the fusion of yesterday and I also like the
fusion of the more modern era. The Chick Corea Electric Band will
forever be among the greatest fusion bands ever in my book.

My 5 cents for what it's worth.

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So, D, you see it as a matter of technology. I can see how that might influence things some but, why would that influence composition? Because technology offers cleaner sound (and the movement for vinyl seems to indicate many do not like the digital sound), why would that effect whether or not musicians create compositions, not just skeleton platforms to solo with? That is what I am not hearing - compositions, song structure. Especially is that the case with nanosecond editing. Seems it would be easier to thread things together if you can't actually write a full composition.

Even to this day engineers swear by their old standard mics. Drummers are still using acoustic instruments, as the edrum movement just cannot gain ascendance hoped for. I still hear Clarke's bass tones and Holdsworth's sound, and Chick's Moog, etc the same as 40 years ago.

Funny you mention Chick's EB. As I listened to the radio I heard a couple songs which really rang my bell. Both were from 'To The Stars.' I ordered the CD. Chick has a real sound to his compositions - the Latin flare. Although, in this case, it really sounded like a Weather Report vibe. I love it. The EB had some stuff that was just too out there for me.

Why would technology keep these new bands from having their own definable sound like the old bands had? MO had the Mid-Eastern thing. Chick, the Latin, Ponty had a real Euro sound, like Passport. Weather Report had a real recognizable World sound. About the only group I recognize today is Garage Mahal when I hear them. Listening to Pandora is like doing a blindfold test. I fail miserably when it comes to new stuff, save for some mentioned because of an individual's sound.

Weckl and Jay Oliver and Steve Weingart came up with a 'sound' for Dave's band. I recognize them when it's stuff I have not heard yet.

Perhaps there is just no need to write deeper compositions to sell music today. It's basic grooves and solo chops and people are satisfied. I'm not much drawn to purchase anything today.

I saw a more recent review of "Magic" and the guy called it elevator music, like writing actual tunes with a funky vibe made it unworthy of being classed with Fusion. He felt Spectrum was Fusion and everything else was something else.

I agree the old fusion was a bust out era from straight jazz and predictable rock. Just the same the originators created memorable compositions that still hold up and create goosebumps 40 years later. Lots of drama and epic stuff, great melodies. I don't hear that today.

View user profile http://drumsinhisheart.weebly.com
I hear you Asaph. But I strongly feel that today's
technology has a strong influence on the way
compositions are created today. Again I still
hear modern day fusion (90's and up) that I dig
and I dig it just as much as the old school fusion.
So maybe we're simply talking more a matter of
preference.

I remember when Stanley Clarke was the talk of
the bass town doing things on the bass that back
then was figured no one was supposed to be able
to do. Today, melodically speaking, there are
players that will play circles around the stuff he did.

Players have gotten technically better and I hear the
compositions reflecting that in the change in
presentation. So I'm not really talking about moog vs.
the latest keyboard or E drums vs. A drums but more
about how the instruments are approached, recorded
and presented.

For me the biggest difference in the fusion of yesterday
and today is the rawness is pretty much gone from today's
fusion music. I think that freedom of expression was a
large part of the appeal. Very few artists come close to
that raw freedom of expression today.

Here's one that for me captures a nice balance between
the new and the old.

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Here's an example of "modern day fusion"
of high precision playing and recording
with virtually no raw aspects to it at all.

That being said....  I like it!

It's just different now.

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I agree with both of you guys.

The compositions (today) are
just not there for me.  I think
back on the MO and RTF and
still just marvel at what they ex-
plored and consequently drew
out of the players and remember
those players - with VERY dist-
tinct sounds that you could
identify from a country MILE
away!  I am not kidding.  You
mentioned Alan and of course,
he is not human!  Consider the
rest of them: Lenny, Chick, Al,
Stan, Tony, Zawinul, Jaco,
Jean-Luc etc.  I do not need
to go on.  You get the idea.

Then, there is the technology.
Again, I agree.  Digital brought
a precision in sound and then
the same in the "handling" of
the performance.  Many more
takes to get to the final.  It
became about catching every
single kick instead of the vision
of the composition whose daring
has no place in today's sound.

Just my opinion.

Just as an example in rock:  I
heard someone bashing Jon
Anderson and Ian Anderson for
being virtual dictators in their
composing visions and demands
of the players but I think the
truth lies closer in that they
saw their players as individuals
that could contribute to their
end and there was a LOT of
freedom in those compositions
to express themselves i.e.
Bruford, White, Barlow, Barre etc.

The same can be said for the
composing of the iconic Chick
Corea and John McLaughlin and
for players like Hammer, Boomer,
Lenny, Tony and others; all: who
were recognized for their IDENTITIES
and what they could bring to their
visions.  I think I am repeating
myself: now.  I think you get my
meaning.  It's a lack of identity
in composition AND player.

Regards,


_________________
Pete

To the father of us, all - Billy Cobham!
View user profile http://bcwtj.forumotion.com
One more thing about Dave
Weckl and Jay Oliver and I
mean no disrespect but I think
those compositions lent them-
selves to that over-emphasis
on kicks as opposed to the
compositional worth.

I love Weckl's contribution to
drums and think him one of the
most important players of the
recent era, by the way.  His
work with RTF was the absolute
top for me.

*SORRY. I meant CCEB.

At the same time, Lenny did
with Chick the miraculous.

Again, my opinion.

Regards,



Last edited by Admin (Pete) on Sat May 23, 2015 2:57 pm; edited 1 time in total


_________________
Pete

To the father of us, all - Billy Cobham!
View user profile http://bcwtj.forumotion.com
Pete, you mentioned Ian Anderson and Jon Anderson. Both Yes and Tull were so identifiable in the prog of that era. ELP, Gentle Giant, Kansas, etc, etc. They all had an identifiable sound. Is that true for today's prog bands? I was on the road and saw this huge magazine about Prog with a CD included. Was a number of years ago but, I picked it up. I didn't know any of the bands and none of the music had anywhere near the class or composition context of the old Prog.

I have to agree with Don when he says the technology brought out this ultra-uber- hitech -mathematical- physicist sound in the 80s/90s that became so complicated, for me it was not listenable. CCEB's Eye of the Beholder struck me that way. That's a matter of taste, though, I guess. Same with Classical. Some of the 20th century stuff is like listening to the inside of a migraine headache for me.

As far as raw, yes and no. I hear stuff today that sounds ... not just raw but, angry. Walls of rhythm guitars. Noise by definition. Makes the metal of the 70s sound like Top 40. Makes the Fusion of the 70s sound like Bach or Wagner. I hear that in all music. I guess that has to do with the lives and attitudes of those composing it these days. The psychological makeup of the day. But, yes, the more I think about it the more I can see Don's point.

The bar was set so high in the 70s. The young came up to that bar, same as today. Every generation has its innovators. Technique and chops is not necessarily melodic, though. Is that not what Billy and Dennis have recently said about the young lions today? Everything is about speed and a zillion notes at the expense of being musical.



View user profile http://drumsinhisheart.weebly.com
I love Weckl's contribution to
drums and think him one of the
most important players of the
recent era, by the way.  His
work with RTF was the absolute
top for me.

When did Dave Weckl work wit RTF?
Or am I misunderstanding something
here, Pete?

Let's not forget, guys.  The "shock" value of
something new always has the strongest impact.

Asaph, I don't know how much CCEB you've listened
to.  But I'm trying to understand this "complicated"
un-listenable" description you're tagging the band
with.  Outside of their "Inside Out" CD, their
material was almost danceable!  Please elaborate
more on the source of your statement.

I feel I must be careful when saying that the
compositions just aren't there for me today
as that would just a about assume that I've
heard everything and everyone.  There's some
great modern day fusion out there.  Again, first
impact and first impression are a done deal and
the fusion music of today is judged by  whatever
standards were set back then.  

We are already  cursed as musicians anyway,
being that we will never be able to NOT scrutinize
and just simply enjoy the music for what it is.

Understanding this as a given, I try not to
complicate things too much more than what
they already are.



Last edited by D. Slam on Sun May 24, 2015 8:12 am; edited 1 time in total

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Sorry. I meant CCEB.

albino


_________________
Pete

To the father of us, all - Billy Cobham!
View user profile http://bcwtj.forumotion.com
Don, my mistake. Inside Out is the disk I meant. Actually, I have it on cassette. I saw comments by Weckl in an interview about the difficulties in playing it. Just something Chick wanted to do. I find things by the Brecker Bros and others like that. Seems more about difficulty levels and experimentation than melody and audience general understanding and appreciation. But, I freely admit, because of some contact with those sounds I never pursued if those artists performed or recorded anything more down to earth.

70s fusion was certainly experimental but, was it not Stanley Clarke who made the comment "when fusion was fun." It seems the modern stuff lost the fun and the adventure. I saw 70s fusion much like what Cream was to rock. The stuff I hear today ... like I say, just seems a platform for soloing. Very weak on composition.

I do not place CCEB in that category. Certainly Inside Out is heavily composed. I have, well had, three CCEB albums. Just ordered To the Stars. How many did they produce? I don't know. Guess I can look it up. One of the reasons I never became a real CCEB aficionado was Marienthal.  Just not a heavy fan of sax for some reason. That said, I like Weckl's band so, go figure.

View user profile http://drumsinhisheart.weebly.com
Isn't it amazing just how much
has come out of Chick and in
continuing the train of thought:
Miles? These were ages of the
bandleader. Leaders beget the
leaders that beget the leaders.

Where are today's leaders? I
will be thinking about that.

Regards,


_________________
Pete

To the father of us, all - Billy Cobham!
View user profile http://bcwtj.forumotion.com
Pete, I figured as much on the Weckl/RTF comment.
I just wanted to be certain I didn't possibly miss
anything.

Asaph, from my perspective, what I saw that Chick
did with the E.B. was add a bit of a commercial pop
sound to it.  Not a whole lot but just enough to ride
the fence.  It was funny in that quite a few die-hard
fusioneers didn't like that idea, yet would not call
the music a total sellout because of how slick and
involved the music was to play.  Scott Henderson
was the original guitar player for the band and left
because he felt the band was a bit too commercial
for his taste, especially with the stuff Chick wanted
in live performance.  He wasn't too keen on Chick's
religious beliefs either.  Check out this thread on the
Frank Gambale message board:

http://mb.frankgambale.com/NonCGI/Forum1/HTML/004753.html

It seems the modern stuff lost the fun and the
adventure.

Well, there again, the adventurous side of a thing tends
to disappear once it's been done.  River rafting was
nowhere the adventure for me the second time I did it.
But it was still fun!  

Likewise with today's music.  I still  hear some fun things
going on though the adventure  isn't as strong. jocolor geek



Last edited by D. Slam on Mon May 25, 2015 2:21 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Boy, that whole leader begets leader line of thought seems spot on. Miles = Tony, Chick, JM, Billy, Lenny, Zawinul, Shorter, Herbie, on and on, all leaders in fusion and jazz, all with signature styles and sound. Indeed, where are such leaders today?

Certainly Bela Fleck carved a sound. Gave a voice to and for the Wooten brothers.  

Perhaps Don's insight into technology has hampered the fire and light of individuality and leadership into new territories? Did technology and precision in the recording industry hamper adventure in music and composition?

It's like cars. They all look the same now.

Of course, I'm 60 now. Many, many things in life have changed in the past decades. My taste in music did. Never saw myself liking hymnody, and certainly not southern gospel. Still, the line of thinking comes from what I hear on Pandora, old and new.

Today I heard something from a band named Ohm. Nothing on them on Pandora. Never heard of them before. I liked their sound.

View user profile http://drumsinhisheart.weebly.com
D, didn't the attitude of straight ahead jazz musicians reflect the same reaction to 70s fusion, as fusion critics had towards CCEB?

Nothing new under the sun.

View user profile http://drumsinhisheart.weebly.com
Asaph wrote:D, didn't the attitude of straight ahead jazz musicians reflect the same reaction to 70s fusion, as fusion critics had towards CCEB?

Nothing new under the sun.


In a way, Asaph but in a different light.  With the
diehard fusion players, it was more about what
fusion is and what it isn't.  With the diehard straight
ahead jazz players it was more a thing of:

'If it ain't jazz, it ain't music.'  

I think much the attitude was a touch of bitter herbs
and I can't say that I blame them....  Hours upon hours
of study and practice from their youth, honing every aspect
of their chosen instrument and musical craft.  Only to be
upended by some notationally inferior, effortless (by the
jazzers standards) pop tune.

It's gotta be tough, man.  Sometimes I find myself wondering.
All the practicing, all the rehearsing...  What's the use?

Heck, get myself a notepad, a sequencer and call it a day!
Of course that thought doesn't last very long, praise God. Wink

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It really is about what we
want from and for us.

I take inspiration from the
players that take technique
and fit it into what they're
being asked to do.  It can
be done but it has to be
subtle and almost hidden.

A few come to mind including:

Billy Cobham
Steve Gadd

tongue

Regards,


_________________
Pete

To the father of us, all - Billy Cobham!
View user profile http://bcwtj.forumotion.com
I think Don is onto something. There is that lack of subtle distortion in the guitars, the raw flailing on the drums the free form jam sections where you could get lost and create something new. I feel that way about the sound of funk and r&B with so called hip hop and modern r& b just too synthetic and perfect to be funky to me. But it has its good points too. There are still pockets of the old sounds to be heard but certainly not in the mainstream. Ask yourself why is Allan Holdsworth not a household name? He is certainly one of the greatest to ever come down the pike. Because apparently, it is an esoteric knowledge, secretive. I am digging the direction Virgil is taking and groups like snarky puppy. There is great music out there you just have to dig deeper for it. There are many new fusions such as world fusion in other countries besides our own. I find that exciting. I could turn you on to some groups that you would say yes that's more like it. It's been a need to go back to the roots like what Boomer and McLaughlin did in the beginning. Find a way to incorporate the authentic musical languages of the past, that have so much to offer us, with the modern world. That can include everything and anything just like new Orleans created jazz itself. It's up to us to go out and do that. Do it! I just saw Farnell Newton's miles electric show the other night and they took in a silent way and other electric era stuff and did justice to it. It was smokin hot. Made me proud! I brought my son and he was not wanting to pay the measly 8$ cover and was he glad he did. People need to get out of their self imposed cages and take a real look around. That is part of the problem. Just get out there and make it happen.

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I feel that way about the sound of funk and r&B with so called hip hop and modern r&b just too synthetic and perfect to be funky to me. I am digging the direction Virgil is taking and groups like snarky puppy. There is great music out there you just have to dig deeper for it. There are many new fusions such as world fusion in other countries besides our own. I find that exciting. People need to get out of their self imposed cages and take a real look around. That is part of the problem. Just get out there and make it happen.

Though I've highlighted these specific points,
Your entire reply was on Q, Kenny. I totally
agree.

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Great discussion.

So is anyone else interested in suggesting some of the young(er) artists we should give a listen to? .... Kenny mentioned Snarky Puppy, who I think plays sophisticated fun fusion. .... I think Hiromi's music is compositionally complex. .... Also Robert Glasper.

---TConrad

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tconrad wrote:Great discussion.

So is anyone else interested in suggesting some of the young(er) artists we should give a listen to? .... Kenny mentioned Snarky Puppy, who I think plays sophisticated fun fusion. .... I think Hiromi's music is compositionally complex. .... Also Robert Glasper.

---TConrad

Hiromi is a great example of modern fusion from someone who not only is like a force of nature in technique but, can also write compositions which, while being complex, are also riveting and approachable. I really like her stuff.

I've never heard of Robert Glasper. I'll have to check him out.

View user profile http://drumsinhisheart.weebly.com
An interesting topic started by Asaph. I agree with Don regarding RTF’s return in 2008. All the right notes were played, but something was missing and the performances felt lame and uninvolving. The “something” that was missing could be things like power, energy, fire, intensity, attack, drive etc. There is also a certain freshness when you do something unique the first time, which usually can’t be repeated decades later by the same musicians. Naturally you will bring in other elements when you have progressed and matured as a musician with time, but still I claim that some of the things mentioned above are partially lost as the musician becomes older. What is your opinion about this?

Kind regards,
Anders

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I wouldn't expect RTF to have the same energy. The guys are older and all. Road life is tough. I have a couple of the new RTF versions and it just doesn't move me as much.

Nonetheless RTF's compositions still hold up today. THAT is my observation - today's fusion lacks compositions. It's all about riffs and solos.

I happened to see an interview on yt yesterday with Al DiMeola. I was gratified to hear him say that technique is not as important as composition. He had some great ones on his early solo ventures.

Don's examples above. I never liked Tribal Tech precisely because of the raw nature of their music. I don't know as I see that as new fusion as much as just their particular sound. Fourplay, on the other hand, has been around awhile now, and they always had the smoother side of things happening. The Kenny G, George Benson kind of sound. Smooth jazz? Is that their genre? Soundwise I much prefer Fourplay than Tribal Tech. I don't really see old school fusion sounding like that to my ears. Unless you want to point out McLaughlin's tone back then, which was his own thing. Even someone with a rougher sound, like Bill Conners on Seventh Galaxy does not strike me as raw as Tribal Tech.

Either way, it's just the lack of compositions in today's fusion compared to the 70s that sticks out to me.

Which always caused me to wonder why RTF never made any new music after 40 years? Never made sense to me to just go out and solely play the old stuff your after tour.

View user profile http://drumsinhisheart.weebly.com
Concerning Tribal Tech, to each his own, Asaph.
I didn't think this was a thread about likes and
dislikes as much as it was about the differences
of past and present fusion.

For me with Tribal Tech, they capture the rawness
of yesterday with the precision of today.  And that's
the main point I was trying to make with them, though
I really enjoy Scott's style of writing.

With Four Play, the particular tune I used as an example
because "Smooth jazz" as it is most recognized normally
doesn't have such involved musical phrases.  This is even
a bit out for what I'm used to hearing from this project.

As for yours and Pete's views on the quality of past and
present compositions, we'll just agree to disagree as I
feel that great fusion compositions are still being written
today.  It's like  what Kenny said:

People need to get out of their self imposed cages and take a real look around. That is part of the problem. Just get out there and make it happen.

With some, the M.O. is the band of bands.  It doesn't
matter who else comes along.  Their minds are made
up, locked, and the key has been destroyed.  I think
we inadvertently do this with music.  Those
developmental fusion years were the best in many
minds and the mere thought of allowing themselves
to be convinced otherwise is unspeakable.

As Kenny said: "Self imposed cages."

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Yeah, D, point taken about Tribal Tech. My ears just hear a difference in melodic content, or lack thereof, next to the bands of the 70s.

As far as Kenny's quote, that is another subject really. My context is about observation listening to the radio at work, and comparing old and new. Kenny is saying go out and make music, which is great. I've recorded off and on for the last three years. Of course, in our case it's improv so it's composition on the fly the way we do it.

I don't feel like I am in a cage because I can hum tunes from 70s fusion and can't find anything to hum today as I listen to the radio. There are exceptions, of course, like Bela Fleck and others. Most is just a riff and solos and back to the riff and more solos and back to the riff and out. That's all I hear. Maybe Pandora is short changing me on new fusion, I don't know. Niacin have some stronger compositions.

There's a reason DiMeola stated that there is a real desire for the old music today. He's packing places with the new tour, his last electric tour. He has Tinnitus. Wants to finish out his career playing acoustic.

I am believing it isn't just me that hears a difference between today's fusion and yesterday's that isn't just something having to do with technology, as much as I believe you are correct in how technology has made things tighter and all. There is something about those years and the music it produced which has not been reproduced in the minds of many, even though the talent is saturation mode today.

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