Sixties Music and Records          


Jazz Rock



by Pat Jacobs


The early '60s were very much like the 1950s, when
jazz still garnered a sizable segment of the American
public.

But with the advent of the British Invasion and TV
becoming the dominant form of entertainment, jazz clubs
began to close, putting many musicians out of work.

Some musicians carried on, striving to extend the
boundaries of jazz into new areas, combining the
elements of rock and roll (or folk, pop, reggae,
metal, R + B, etc.) to create "fusion jazz". Julian
"Cannonball" Adderley was an early pioneer. A stunning
result of this movement were the two landmark albums
by trumpeter Miles Davis, "In A Silent Way" (1969) and
"Bitches Brew" (1970).

At the same time, many rock musicians began adding
jazz elements to THEIR music. The original version of
"Eight Miles High" by The Byrds (Dec. 1965) emulated
the style of John Coltrane's classic quartet. In 1966,
Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield recorded
"East-West", a long improvisational piece.

Other rock musicians performed and recorded rock songs
that featured extended improvisations and jazz-style
instrumental interplay as well as longer, multi-part
compositions (Examples include Jimi Hendrix, The
Grateful Dead, and The Allman Brothers in the U.S.,
and Cream, Soft Machine, and Yes in the UK). 

Frank Zappa released his first jazz-rock album "Hot Rats" in
this year, 1969. He continued recording fusion music
occasionally during his career.

A number of prominent jazz-rock bands also had
considerable success (particularly in 1969; jazz-rock
became a sensation) including Blood, Sweat, and Tears,
The Chicago Transit Authority, later shortened to
Chicago, Steely Dan (U.S.), and Traffic (UK). Others
would soon follow.

Jazz fusion was criticized by traditionalists who
preferred the conventional mainstream form and by
smooth jazz fans who found the new genre "not
accessible". Others found it too pretentious. But the
music preservered and took on a life of its own; there
was no turning back. 

Latin jazz has two main varieties: Afro-Cuban and
Brazilian. 

There had already been Latin American rhythms in jazz
(beginning in the 1920s, especially those associated
with dances such as the rhumba, merigue, and the
tango), but in 1960, Antonio Carlos Jobim (a Brazilian
guitarist and composer) began receiving recognition
for his samba music. 

American tenor saxophonist Stan Getz collaborated with Jobim and singer Joao Gilberto, scoring a hit with "The Girl From Ipanema". This type of jazz-plus-samba became known as the Bossa Nova. This would be an example of Brazilian jazz.

Afro-Cuban jazz was played in the U.S. directly after
the bebop period, during the mid-'50s. Dizzy Gillespie
and Billy Taylor started Afro-Cuban bands at this
time. Other examples of this genre would be Xavier
Cugat, Tito Puente, Chico O' Farrill, and Mario Bauza.

Free jazz is a term often used to categorize a new
direction in jazz in the 1960's. Experimental,
provocative, and challenging for many listeners, free
jazz was characterized by a high degree of dissonance.
Pitch and tone quality were manipulated by players on
their instruments to produce squeaks, shrieks, and
wails. New sounds from non-western music traditions
like those of India, China, the Middle East, or Africa
were sometimes used. 

Collective improvisation, where all players improvise simultaneously and independently without the framework of a chord progression, was also common. All this sometimes lent to the feeling of "organized chaos." (I personally refer to this genre
as "weirdo jazz".) Free jazz was praised by some of
the prominent musicians of the time, but was not
widely accepted by the public.

Two of the major contributors to the evolution of free
jazz were alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman and pianist
Cecil Taylor. Other free jazz musicians included
saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell, pianist Muhal Richard
Abrams, composer/pianist/bandleader Carla Bley, and I
believe, John Coltrane (His wife, Alice Coltrane, was
a noted musician herself, but I'm not sure if her
style was free jazz. I DO KNOW that she DID play in
his band, so I would venture to say "most likely").

By the mid-'60s, the heyday of Tin Pan Alley was gone,
superseded by music written by individual singers and
groups. There were a few recordings by jazz artists
that "crossed over" into the pop charts but
substantially fewer than in the past. Besides
"Ipanema", some of these were: "Stranger On The
Shore"-Acker Bilk, "Take Five"-Dave Brubeck Trio,
"Midnight In Moscow"-Kenny Ball, "Hello Dolly"-Louis
Armstrong, and "Washington Square"-The Village
Stompers.

more articles by Pat Jacobs

 


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