Is Rock/Jazz an Oxymoron, Or Not?

May 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Music

john-mcWhen I was growing up I always believed that Rock and Jazz were two completely different forms of music. This assumption was shattered when the two forms began to merge in the late 1960s. Three bands, Electric Flag, Blood, Sweat and Tears, and Chicago Transit Authority were the pioneers of this change. Some jazz devices were employed, yet traditional pop arrangements with the horn section were still used, especially with the last two bands. Nonetheless, some common ground was established between Jazz and Rock.

This is a phenomenon that I never thought could be possible! To clear up the foggy evolution of Jazz/Rock, I have been reading “Jazz Rock” by Robert Palmer, which does a good job of summarizing the emerging milestones of this unusual hybrid. The quintessential fact in this timeline of Jazz/Rock was the release of “Bitches Brew” by Miles Davis in 1969. “Brew” had featured the stunning guitar work of John McLaughlin, who soon became the Megastar of this new form.

Being a ‘Rock Purist’ as I was and all, back in the good old days, I was reluctant to embrace this new expression initially. With the release of “The Inner Mounting Flame” (John McLaughlin) however, I started to convert, and from clever coaxing from a friend who found a spiritual catharsis through perpetual rotation of this record, I too saw the ‘inner light’! McLaughlin`s masterful improvisation seemed to lift you out of the moment, and lead you to a Higher Power. John`s the Pied Piper of JR!

Before I float off on a cloud of bewilderment, I thought I`d ask you one question. A British rock guitar virtuoso issued a landmark ‘fusion’ record in 1975. What is the name of the album and artist (this is my favorite JR record) ?