The New Wave and its History

In understanding the “New Wave” of modern Jazz that I last posted about, one should look at the innovators of fusion music. Two of the most important innovators in this style, Miles Davis and Roy Ayers, took a leap in extending the sounds or timbres of popular music (such as the synthesizer or distorted guitar) into the Jazz idiom (using more complex harmonic changes and improvisation). One of the most prominent recordings of this was Miles’s “Bitches Brew” which was essentially a collection of long complex improvisations; this style could be seen as an evolution of Miles’s modal jazz sound. Roy Ayers brought a very smooth R&B style to the jazz background and thus melded rock, jazz, soul, and blues into one neat package. Upon first listen, the younger listener might find these recordings bizarre and strange. Bitches Brew may at first come across as some nightmarish form of Carlos Santana and Roy Ayers might seem like a Jazz cat playing in a Disco club but once you are able to get past the initial shock there lies a very deep and fulfilling world to explore in this music. However, now we see modern artists such as Robert Glasper interpreting these songs with arrangements that fit our current tastes; and while not struggling with the strange sounds of 80s fusion the listener is now free to sit back and enjoy the amazing music of these not so early innovators.