Fusion

Miles Davis helped usher in the fusion of jazz and rock in the mid to late 1960’s through albums such as Bitches Brew and Jack Johnson. His bands during this period featured Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Joe Zawinul on electric piano, Ron Carter and Dave Holland on bass, John McLaughlin on guitar, and Tony Williams and Jack DeJohnette on drums. Tony Williams formed a rock oriented band called Lifetime with John McLaughlin, who also formed his own high energy group, the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Through the 1970’s Miles continued to explore new directions in the use of electronics and the incorporation of funk and rock elements into his music, leading to albums such as Pangea and Agharta.

Other groups combined jazz and rock in a more popularly oriented manner, from the crossover Top 40 of Spyro Gyra and Chuck Mangione to the somewhat more esoteric guitarist Pat Metheny. Other popular fusion bands include Weather Report, featuring Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, and bass players Jaco Pastorius and Miroslav Vitous; Return To Forever, featuring Chick Corea and bassist Stanley Clarke; The Crusaders, featuring saxophonist Wilton Felder and keyboardist Joe Sample; the Yellowjackets, featuring keyboardist Russell Ferrante; and the Jeff Lorber Fusion, which originally featured Kenny G on saxophone. In recent years, several fusion bands have achieved much commercial success, including those of Pat Metheny and Kenny G.