Spit Fusion Albums At Me

This may be waaay to me-focused and simplistic to deserve being a thread (I haven’t been here long, please forgive!) but I was wondering if any jazz fusion fans here wouldn’t mind just naming albums that they think are good. Or, perhaps, for the more well-known fellers (Al Di Meola, Miles Davis, etc), what albums show some of their best work? I’m young and I don’t know much about jazz or fusion, I just know that what I’ve heard so far is fantastic, no matter what exactly it “fuses”.

Delete this if asking people to recommend jazz isn’t thread-worthy.


Phil Collins used to be in a band called Brand X (Amazon searches seem to be producing a newer band by the same name) back when Phillip had long hair and a beard. One tune I recall really liking was “Nuclear Burn”. Phil Collins was, and might still be, one bad-ass drummer. I’m a drummer and I don’t give that compliment lightly.

I’m not sure if Mahavishnu Orchestra and Zappa qualify as fusion, but they rock.

We’ve had lots of threads like this and there’s nothing wrong with them.

ultrafilter did a series of threads like this, organized by genre. One of the best project things I’ve seen on this board. Here’s the jazz thread.

Birds of Fire by the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Frank Zappa recorded so much stuff that I don’t know what to recommend. Weather Report was important as well.

One of the earliest jazz/rock fusion bands (and one that predates the term) is Soft Machine. Listen to their album “Third.”

Weather Report’s Heavy Weather and Jaco Pastorius’s self-titled album are both essential fusion albums.

Pat Metheny Still Life [Talking]. Has the incredible “Last Train Home” on it as well as the soaring “Minuano (Six Eight).” The fusion albums are with his band including keyboardist Lyle Mays. He’s also done solo albums and duets in every style, so be careful to check.

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Only jazz fusion band led by a banjo player. The Bela Fleck & The Flecktones album has their signature tune, “The Sinister Minister” on it, but UFO Tofu is also a good place to start.

Jean-Luc Ponty. I can never remember which song is on which album, but his heyday was fine.

Bob James. A producer/composer who somehow managed to turn out a couple of albums a year. His 70s work was best, with lots of funk/Brazilian/other influences. One, Two, Three, Four. That era. Plus H, with Grover Washington, Jr.

Al Di Meola, Paco de Lucia, and John McLaughlin, Friday Night in San Francisco. Technically not fusion, just three of the fastest acoustic guitarists in the west facing each other down live. Try others of Di Meola, like Elegant Gypsy from that period.

Herbie Hancock when he went electric did versions of his “Cantaloupe Island” and “Watermelon Man” that are classics. Find them. I think Head Hunters has at least one.

Candy Dulfer, Saxuality. Weather Report, Heavy Weather. Gong, Gazeuse!. Bassist Stanley Clarke Stanley Clarke. Flautist Tim Weisberg, Tip of the Weisberg.

Earl Klugh. Saw him live second billed to David Sanborn. Sanborn’s good but Klugh was pissed by the billing and blew him off the stage.

Some of my personal (probably sentimental) favorites are
Return To Forever - Romantic Warrior and Where Have I known You Before
Jean-Luc Ponty - Upon The Wings Of Music to Civilized Evil (1975-1980)
Mahavishnu Orchestra - Apocalypse
Stanley Clarke - School Days and Journey To Love
Al DiMeola - Elegant Gypsy and Land Of The Midnight Sun
Weather Report - Heavy Weather and Mysterious Traveller (even if it’s only for the song “Nubian Sundance”)
If you can find it, Alphonse Mouzon’s Mind Transplant is pretty tasty (Tommy Bolin, what a loss). So is Billy Cobham’s Spectrum.
Larry Coryell did Spaces with John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Miroslav Vitous and Billy Cobham.
From more modern times, you might check out projects by Endangered Species and Project Z.
Fans of this genre might also like Jazz Is Dead, a rotating band of first-rate players who do “jazz” covers of Grateful Dead songs.
While others may disagree, I’ve always thought of Jeff Beck’s Blow By Blow as a fusion album.
You might well like some Derek Trucks Band music as well.
That should get you started.

On the funkier side of fusion is John Scofield. Try the album Time on my Hands.
Various other fusion guitarists include Mike Stern, John Abercrombie (the album Gateway with Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette is a classic of the genre), and Nguyen Le, a seriously underrated Vietnamese guitarist who has a very unusual style that is well worth checking out. His album ELB with Peter Erskine on drums and Michel Benita is excellent.

Also try Blood, Sweat and Tears, a band who had loads of the best fusionists in its ranks at various times and were heavily influential.

As for Zappa, Hot Rats is the best starting place and then anything from the early seventies (eg Chunga’s Revenge, Waka/Jawaka, One Size Fits All). Zappas influence on fusion cannot be overstressed. Hot Rats is often considered as important as, if not more than, Bitches Brew.

Joe Farrell, “Moon Germs”
Weather Report, “Sweetnighter” (my personal favorite – Zawinul’s Rhodes is outstanding on the title track)
Jeff Beck, “Blow by Blow” (I agree it is a fusion album)
Herbie Hancock, “Thrust” (quintessential funk fusion)
Jaco Pastorius, “Jaco Pastorious” (agreed – a classic)

Speaking of ‘The Funkier Side’:
Mocean Worker’s “Enter the Mowo” from 2004.
Soulive also released a combo compilation album in 2005 entitled “Steady Groovin

How about Classical Fugue / Jazz Fusion?
France’s Ward Swingle Singers - Accapella jazz with a little bass and drum rhythm section

…Or Blues / Jazz Fusion?
John Lee Hooker’s album entitled “Heaven” from the early mid 1970’s.

What the hell am I saying? Fast ‘n’ Bulbous is right: go with Hot Rats.

I’m not surprised by those recommendations, but have 2 questions:

  1. Bulbous also tapered? That’s right!
  2. Any truth to the rumor you’re a shrimp who eats dough in a polyethelene bag?

You don’t want to say that! The early seventies is also when Zappa had the “comedy music” edition of the Mothers with Flo & Eddie. So avoid Fillmore East, June 1971; Just Another Band from L.A.; and 200 Motels; and be warned that Chunga’s Revenge is a transitional album that is half a more stripped-down follow-up to the masterful Hot Rats, and half goofy vocal material with Flo & Eddie.

A lot of great stuff on this thread, but also a lot of stuff I might be inclined to “un-recommend” if that weren’t so rude. I haven’t seen a mention of Terje Rypdal yet–I’d highly recemmend Odyssey.

D’oh! With regard to early-'70s Zappa, I forgot to add “…and do get the sublime Grand Wazoo!”

“Don’t get no jizz up on the sofa.”