The Rock Explosion

At the end of the sixties, strengthened by his quintet's experiments, Miles Davis was ripe for bringing himself before rock and its immense audience.

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Miles Davis as a Rocker?

A fusion of country music and black rock and roll (derived from boogie), rock was created by white artists in the mid-fifties. Over the next decade, it adopted the effective rhythm sections of rhythm and blues and profited by carrying soul and other types of American music forward. At the same time it received support from new recording and production methods and made use of the electric instruments that had appeared with the urban blues.

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Jimi Hendrix onstage, Woodstock 1969

Instrumental performances became increasingly important not only with rock - leading to the appearance of 'guitar heroes' - but also with the transformation of musical forms. In the late sixties, 'rockers' invaded realms hitherto reserved for better-informed kinds of music, such as classical, jazz and certain types of traditional non-European music.

After this point rock could be played for extended periods, and huge sound systems were installed, making enormous outdoor concerts possible.


A Power Intact

Did jazz die in the eighties? Maybe it died years earlier, with Ornette Coleman, Gill Evans, Charlie Parker, or even, simply, the minute it left New Orleans. All this is surely debatable. But the only fact that matters is this: the explosion of black American music at the beginning of the century has turned the history of music upside down.

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Randy Brecker
 The immense musical river that set off from New Orleans has spawned numerous tributaries and today has arrived at its delta. Some of its large streams have got lost. In this decompartmentalized, cosmopolitan and multicoloured space, the standard-bearers of jazz have disappeared. They have left room for a permissiveness and a wild variety of individual styles, all carried by the impulse that was called swing in the thirties, which, in diversifying, has lost  none of its power.


Insect and Pygmies

With the use of technology, insect sounds and Pygmy choirs have been pirated and injected into recordings. One would be tempted to say that through these high-tech means jazz is rediscovering cultural appropriation - its first function.

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Chieli Minucci & Special EFX
Indeed, by the end of the eighties  there was more appropriation than ever before, in both acoustic and electric jazz. Jazz musicians have picked up and assimilated everything that has presented itself. This is what one might call a real fusion music.

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With Computer Software like this (DAW - Digital Audio Workstation), audio can be recorded, edited, manipulated as a normal as an analog/tape  recorder usually does or as crazy as somebodies creativity might imagine

The old standards and conventions of classical jazz are now only a part of a much large heritage - classical music, urban and rural traditions, academic music and music of the streets, rock and country, free jazz and various other sounds which is being looked at, borrowed from and generally shaken up.


The New Sounds Of Jazz

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'Old & Conventional' way to record (jazz) music;
for the sake of simplify, flexibility and lower cost, this old way of recording together in studio, record with analog machine are getting rarer

While the fans attached to their collections of 78s- who rebel the compact disc- remain an extreme case, it is true that the sound of jazz and the nature of the studio work have changed considerably. In the past, recordings were made in one or several takes, from which the best one would be chosen. Today multitrack recorders allow the most satisfying fragments from distinct takes to be edited together. Frequently, especially which electric fusion groups, the instrumentalists are recorded one after the other and apiece is put together without any of the different musicians even meeting in the studio. For all, including acoustic musicians, corrective work is done on the different tracks, for various reasons, even to arrive again at the artistic content of the work.

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Today 'studio';
with digital portable multitrack 'recorder' system like this, anybody can make music, record, manipulate and edit easily anywhere with high quality result
These operations have evolved considerably with the appearance of digital technology, which permits the sound to be manipulated by computers. Synthesizers, too, have benefited from this. New electronic devices abound: various keyboards, sequencers, rhythm boxes and electronic wind instruments - not to mention the 'sampler', which permits electronic verification of the characteristics of a sound in order either to reproduce it just as it is or to deform it.


Jazz For All

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In the past the jazz community could be depicted as one big family divided by domestic conflict, but by the end of the eighties that family seemed to be dissolving. If contemporary jazz musicians still return to the standards as an obligatory exercise in style or as the opportunity to express their devotion to tradition, the repertoire and practises are no longer homogeneous enough to allow an encounter between musicians of different generations.

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Pat Metheny

And jazz fans? Feeling rather lost, the lovers of early jazz seen great connection between all this and the colourful legend of New Orleans that brought them to the field in the first place. Then there are other specialists: collectors of West Coast music and those fondly reminiscent of the radical sixties and seventies.
All three share a protest against ECM productions, which they consider sterile and devoid of swing.

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John Scofield & Joe Lovano

25 Essential Jazz Recordings of the 1980's and 1990's(all styles)

Howard Alden/Dan Barrett, ABQ Salutes Buck Clayton (Concord Jazz)
Geri Allen, In The Year Of The Dragon (Verve)
Art Blakey, Keystone 3 (Concord Jazz)
Ruby Braff, A Sailboat In The Moonlight (Concord Jazz)
Michael Brecker, Michael Brecker (MCA/Impulse)
James Carter, Jurassic Classics (DIW/Columbia)
Kenny Garrett, Pursuance (Warner Bros.)
Jerry Gonzalez, Rhumba Para Monk (Sunnyside)
George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, Fist Prize (Enja)
Roy Hargrove, Of Kindred Souls (Novus)
Joe Henderson, Lush Life (Verve)
Keith Jarrett, Bye Bye Blackbird (ECM)
Joe Lovano, Rush Hour (Blue Note)
Branford Marsalis, Trio Jeepy (Columbia)
Wynton Marsalis, Black Codes From The Underground (Columbia)
Wynton Marsalis, In This House, On This Morning (Columbia)
Jackie McLean, Dynasty (Triloka)
Pat Metheny, Letter From Home (Geffen)
Mingus Big Band, Nostalgia In Times Square (Dreyfus)
David Murray, Hope Scope (Black Saint)
Buell Neidlinger, Blue Chopsticks (K2B2)
James Newton, The African Flower (Blue Note)
Tito Puente, Goza Me Timbal (Concord Picante)
John Scofield, Hand Jive (Blue Note)
Yellowjackets, Four Corners (MCA)

Forces In Motion (Anthony Braxton) by Graham Lock (Da Capo Press, 1988)
Jazz - The 1980s Resurgence by Stuart Nicholson (Da Capo Press, 1990)
Outcats by Frances Davis (Oxford Univ. Press, 1990)
Rhythm-A-Ning by Gary Giddins (Oxford Univ. Press, 1985)
Talking Jazz by Ben Sidran (Da Capo Press, 1995)

The Reawakening Of Big Bands

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Carla Bley Big Band
Since the forties, big bands were increasingly the domain of white musicians.In the course of the sixties, Don Ellis outdistanced the metric preoccupations of jazz-rock. Carla Bley, with her compositions evoking the worlds of Charles Ives, Eric Satie and Kurt Weill, introduced a dimension of parody.

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Don Ellis Big Band
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Don Ellis
As for Gil Evans and George Russell, their invariably avant-garde writing led them to the dismantling of the structures of the big band, frequently shrinking the wind section, shifting the weight to the rhythm section, and adopting a freedom inherited from free jazz. Aura (1989) was the first record Miles Davis brought out with a large group since he recorded Quiet Night with Gill Evans in 1962.


Jazz In Joint Ownership

The different forms of improvised music - still conveniently collected under the label of jazz - were not, of course, the exclusive property of black musicians at this time. Numerous white musicians also appropriated the heritage of jazz: David Liebman and Richard Beirach, more than anyone else, continued to deepen the heritage of John Coltrane and Bill Evans; Keith Jarrett gave new life to old standards and to the traditional rhythm section in the vein of Bill Evans; Pat Metheny fed his super productions, tinged with pop, Brazilian and country music, with inspirations from Ornette Coleman and Wes Montgomery.

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David Liebman

Black producers, from Quincy Jones to Marcus Miller, have had an undeniable impact in the last decade. But another force since the sixties has been the white jazz musicians who have changed the direction of the sound as well, thanks to personalities such as Michael Brecker, David Sanborn and the guitarist Larry Carlton. These name are always mentioned in this context.

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Richard Beirach
Studio work has allowed jazz-rock to become open to a variety of other influences. Jazz has profited commercially from such borrowings.

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Marcus Miller; as Bass Player...

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... and as Producer
The popularity of Latin music represented a dual appeal; it fulfilled a public demand for upbeat music - evocative of sun and health- as well as responding to a youthful audience concerned with making the most of the positive aspects of its racial diversity.


From The Church To The Street

African-American jazz has always sought to maintain its footing in the sociological reality from which it was born.

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Quincy Jones

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Ray Charles and Quincy Jones

Such was the significance of Quincy Jones' Back on the Block, which came out in 1990. Taking stock of this century as it nears its end, Jones - Count Basie's former arranger and Michael Jackson's producer at that time - assembled a few of the great names of Black American music, from Ray Charles to Miles Davis, along with Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie.

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Ella Fitzgerald

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Geri Allen
Soul music and rap welcomed jazz, as if to remind it they grew up together in black churches and on the street. From the delicate neo-classical touch of the pianist Geri Allen to the fanfares of Lester Bowie (the Art Ensemble of Chicago's trumpet player), along with the saxophonists Kenny Garrett (like Geri Allen, trained in Detroit with the trumpet players Marcus Belgrave) or Gary Thomas (discovered while with Jack DeJohnette and Miles Davis) - the same concern with roots, the same attention to the latest developments of funk, and openness of spirit that reflected the lifestyle and choices of the sixties loft generation.

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Lester Bowie
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Marcus Belgrave

What do the following have it common: Wynton Marsalis in his three-pieces suit, the rap group 2 Live Crew with its obscenities, and the jazz that came forth in the sixties, mixing the acquisitions of free jazz with the certainties of bop?

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Kenny Garrett

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2 Live Crew
All belong to that same community - they were different reactions to the mounting economic difficulties, the marginalization of the most disenfranchised and the increase in the minority population in the eighties.