Sunday, April 5, 2009

Music Day II

Here is the second installment of my musical history tour.

As for most folks my age, The Beatles were number one. They were simply magical. Everybody else in rock music was a distant second at best. But this is not about rock. it's about jazz, or several permutations of jazz.

Most music fans think of fusion as some awful combination of muzak and pop. But way back when fusion was called jazz-rock. And many of my favorites were rockers crossing into jazz. I suppose the first band that I thought of as rock-jazz was Cream. Now maybe that tag doesn't really fit, but their improvisations playing live went into areas I was pretty much unfamiliar with. Wheels of Fire was on my turntable maybe more than any other recording of that time period. There were other bands more closely tied to rock-jazz like Blood, Sweat and Tears, Chicago, Lighthouse and one obscure band whose tunes stick in my head to this day...Battered Ornaments. Never heard of them? Yes, neither has anyone else. But it was cutting edge music back in the day. If you ever come across their second album titled Mantlepiece, do not hesitate. Chances are you never will. Their leader was Pete Brown who wrote many of the lyrics for Cream but should never have tried to sing. Speaking of Cream, Jack Bruce was in the forefront of many rock-jazz projects most of which hold up very well some 40 years on. Try to listen to Things we Like with John McLaughlin, and the 3-CD Spirit which has several BBC shows with Jon Hiseman and Dick Hekstall-Smith.

And who can forget Soft Machine. Their album Third is a classic of rock-jazz. I'm sure I'm forgetting lots of folks...

More next time on jazz-rock.

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