Sunday, September 27, 2015

Fuse One — Fuse One


   In late seventies, when fusion music was still noted as a top style for musical quality and for various technical reasons, jazz-rock and other ambitious genres were losing their previous substantial positions for disco and other popular genres. Many formal ideas were checked in jazz arrangements and used in best pop productions as many jazz musicians were working as session men for studio productions. Although jazz and rock were more and more marginalized, becoming niche styles, musicians were still trying to find a new way to take previous social positions. In the end of seventies jazz was no longer trendy. Even the name “jazz” was gradually omitted. Traditional meaning of the band also had changed and many professional musicians were playing in various groups and orchestras as well as many were hired for studio recording or touring with pop music performers.
   In such situation in April 1980 group of prominent jazz musicians started recording sessions in Evergreen Studio and Westlake Audio with engineer Tom Vicari. The producer Creed Taylor, founder of CTI Records, ask Rudy Van Gelder to work on his new project so he was the engineer of May and June sessions that have been being taped at Van Gelder's Studio in Englewood Cliffs. The project was called Fuse One. This was not a traditional band, rather studio all-star band without constant line-up. Cover note about project said: “Fuse One is conceived as a forum in which major contemporary musicians perform according to their own musical disciplines and interact without the constraints that accompany leader responsibilities. Each player brings in new compositions and ideas”. 

Fuse One — Fuse One (1980)

   It’s meaningful the word “jazz” is not present at any point of this album. And only jazz connection are musicians' names. Just like the genre was out of date. Tendency to cross the borders of styles and play music more open way was presented the style of presented compositions, rhythmic and melodic idioms shown in solos and arrangements. These elements can convince this is an all-star project. And stars engaged in the project were really bright. Saxophonist Joe Farrell, guitarists John McLaughlin, Larry Coryell and harmonica player Hugh McCracken, acoustic piano, synthesizers and Fender Rhodes piano players Ronnie Foster, Victor Feldman, Jeremy Wall, Jorge Dalto, bassists Stanley Clarke, Will Lee, drummers Tony Williams, Lenny White, Ndugu Leon Chancler and percussionists Paulinho Da Costa, Roger Squitero – all performers were playing with discipline and straight sound.
   Generally music of Fuse One is fusion with elements of smooth jazz. Themes are melodious, rhythms are decided, arrangements are easy and solos are restrained. Most pieces are conventional joyous jazz typical for fusion jazz light music. These are Ronnie Foster’s Grand Prix and Stanley Clarke’s Sunshine Lady. In Double Steal by Jeremy Wall and Taxi Blues by Stanley Clarke popular music of disco era is augmented by electronics and by harmonica in Taxi Blues with strong rock solo by Larry Coryell. Most popular Waterside is just an arrangement of The Moldau theme by Bedrich Smetana made by Jeremy Wall. Two interesting pieces composed by John McLaughlin are postmodern To Whom All Things Concern and referring to Spanish traditional music Friendship. Electric sound and strong rhythmic patterns are foundations to this exposure. Three and half of star for perfect performance.

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