Years ago, before “Smooth Jazz” became associated with elevator music/muzak/white noise, fusion forged forces of rock and myriad music forms, creating forks in the road where passion and ideas at times transcended technique. Excitement ensued. R&B/jazz artists like George Duke melded with brothers from different Mothers (of Invention), The Flock exposed rock crowds to virtuosos like violinist Jerry Goodman; Chick Corea, Al Di Meola and Stanley Clarke opened for rock acts and ultimately highlighted, playing to packed formerly rock only venues and Weather Report dominated college radio.
In the 80s, fusion morphed into a more focused form, expressly improvisational but arguably more melodic…jazz became widely played, heard and appreciated, ultimately drawing rock listeners to its more traditional or root forms.
It was in the 80s that musicians like Dave Sanborn, The Crusaders, Al Jarreau, Grover Washington, Jr., Lee Ritenour, Spirogyra, Flim and the BB’s, Steps Ahead and scores of others celebrated a form of jazz music that reached a commercial zenith unmatched since the days of swing. Jazz labels flourished.
This clip reminds me of that time. A time when artists could perform melodic songs well without hype and histrionics, a time when playing still meant more than “performing,” when “feel” meant more than look.
I consider these musicians gifted and for that reason, want to share this performance. George Duke, Al Ritenour, Marcus Miller and although he gets no intro here, Vinnie Colaiuta on drums. Hope you like it as much as I do.