jazz: The 1960s: From Free Jazz to Jazz-Rock Fusion

The 1960s: From Free Jazz to Jazz-Rock Fusion

Beginning in the late '50s-early '60s, avant-garde or free jazz leaders such as John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Pharaoh Sanders, Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk continued to explore new harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic relationships. The new jazz is often atonal, and traditional melodic instruments often assume rhythmic-percussive roles and vice versa. The lead instruments eschewed traditional melodies for improvised phrases and the accompanists abandonned traditional harmonies to react in real time to the other players.

In the late 1960s many jazz musicians, such as Miles Davis, Larry Coryell, Gary Burton, Keith Jarrett , and Corea , investigated the connections between rock and jazz in a musical style known as fusion. Impressed by the innovations of artists like Jimi Hendrix, Davis switched to rock instrumentation and a more straightforward beat to attract a new generation of listeners, beginning with his 1969 release, Bitches Brew. The addition of electric bass, synthesizers and keyboards, and rock-style drumming made jazz-rock attractive to a contemporary audience.

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