Jazz History Final: Matthew Halsall (Jazz Fusions)

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Though-out history jazz has made progressive steps in it’s genera from composers incorporating different cultured music/musicians with their style to achieve a fresh sound. Now specifically “Jazz Fusion” is a genre that was created around the late 1960’s by combining funk/blues rhythms and scales with popular jazz time signatures, improvisation sections, and song arrangement. This and with the help of electrical instrument amplification dubbed the style “Jazz Rock” or “Jazz Fusion”. This is a great example for this blog but know when I say Jazz Fusion I am not referring to Jazz Rock. Rather consider it only one of the many extraordinary cases where this genera has been flavored differently because a musician had the talent to use a different genera’s theory of melody and rhythm with their own style to create something new for the world.

Situations like Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto performing Brazilian melodies and samba rhythms with a American 1960’s cool jazz feel which is the combination known as “Bossa Nova”. Dizzy Gillespie releasing his “Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods” album in 1975 with it’s fast colorful rhythms and signature Gillespie trumpet improvisations. While simultaneously in 1975 a totally different sound was achieved in Grover Washington Jr.’s album called “Minister Magic” which became one of the most renowned albums for merging jazz with a funk and soul feel. All these are great examples of the creative diversity that can be accomplished in jazz fusions. To this day experimental genera merging hasn’t stopped in jazz, recently a up and coming jazz trumpeter/composer by the name Matthew Halsall released a album in 2012 that was greatly inspired by his exposure to Japanese Kyoto during his travels. These are the kind of musical innovations that help a genera maintain current cultural significance allowing it to move forward into the future successfully.



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“Famed jazz trumpeter and composer Dizzie Gillespie was born John Birks Gillespie on October 21, 1917, in Cheraw, South Carolina. He would go on to become one of the most recognizable faces of jazz music, with his “swollen” cheeks and signature trumpet’s bell, as well as one of the most influential figures of jazz and bebop.”-Bio.

Mr. Dizzy Gillespie is historically considered to be one of the first musicians ever to infuse Afro-Cuban Caribbean and Brazilian melody and rhythm with the jazz mentality creating “Latin-jazz”. This form of jazz was considered to be bebop-oriented while  musicians of the time classified it as a modern style. Latin Jazz was very successful because it never decreased in popularity with the dance clubs. People are always going to love to dance.

There are two main categories of Latin jazz, one is “Afro-Cuban Jazz” (what Gillespie composed) which is jazz that is rhythmically based on clave and is often be played with a rhythm section using “ostinato patterns” (a repeating idea that could be a rhythmic pattern, part of a tune, or a complete melody) from popular Cuban dance music. Then secondly Afro-Brazilian jazz or “Bossa Nova” is biased on a  jazz “samba” which are musical rhythmic variations that really reflect the Brazilian music culture. One of Gillespie’s most famous contributions to Afro-Cuban music community is the composition called “Manteca” (A great example is the Stan Getz section of this post).

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“Stan Getz was born on February 2, 1927 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Receiving his first saxophone at the age of 13, Getz went on to perform with jazz legend Woody Herman. Getz’s light and warm tone—a style that he picked up from his idol, Lester Young—earned him the nickname “The Sound.” Getz went on to incorporate bossa nova into his music, and his hit recording “The Girl from Ipanema” helped make the song a standard.” -Bio.

One of Stan Getz’s more popular hits was recorded in 1963 with Astrud Gilberto called “The Girl from Ipanema”. The album “Getz/Gilberto” won two Grammy Awards for best album and best single. The piece became one of the most well-known jazz/bossa nova fusions of its time. Samba rhythms often notated in 2/4 time have a emphasis on the second beat which carries the bossa nova feel. Two measure sambas patterns traditionally can contain a syncopated transition to the second measure. Both of these aspects help bossa nova music have a swing like feel which pairs nicely with the jazz musician.

“As bossa nova composer Carlos Lyra describes it in his song “Influência do Jazz”, the samba rhythm moves “side to side” while jazz moves “front to back”. Bossa nova was also influenced by the blues, but because the most famous bossa novas lack the 12-bar structure characteristic of classic blues, as well as the statement, repetition and rhyming resolution of lyrics typical of the genre, bossa nova’s affinity with the blues often passes unnoticed.” -Wiki. 

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Photo of Grover WASHINGTON

“One of the most popular saxophonists of all time, Grover Washington, Jr. was long the pacesetter in his field. His roots were in R&B and soul-jazz organ combos, but he also fared very well on the infrequent occasions when he played straight-ahead jazz. A highly influential player, Washington pushed himself with the spontaneity and risk-taking of a masterful jazz musician.” -AllMusic.

Soul/Jazz was at its most popular during the 1960s. It roots from bebop and hard bop styles but has more emphasis on the rhythmic dance groove which makes it its own genera. Solo sections that follow the fundamental root still occur like in bop music. What differs is the bass line has more dance to it to the classic bass four bar walking pattern.

Grover Washington Jr. had established himself as a very powerful force in the jazz/soul music scene during his career. But it wasn’t till his fourth album that was recorded in 1974 called “Mister Magic” did he gain any major commercial traction. The track quickly got to number 10 on the Billboard’s Top 40 album chart.

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“Manchester based, DJ, bandleader and trumpeter Matthew Halsall is one of the UK’s brightest talents. A gifted trumpeter with a beautiful, expressive tone, his music draws on his love of the transcendental, spiritual and modal jazz of Alice and John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, as well as the glories of ‘60s British jazz. His previous albums ‘Sending My Love’ and ‘Colour Yes’ released on his own Gondwana label have won him a legion of fans across the world and acclaim from the likes of Gilles Peterson, Jamie Cullum and Radio 3’s Late Junction, MOJO, BBC Music Magazine and even BBC 6 Music.” -AllMusic.

Mathew Halsall has always gravitated to a modal and spiritual jazz flavor. Eastern music has also interested him sense his recently meditation studies and trips in Japan. His newest album “When the World was One” illustrated these interests with his use of textures created by harp, koto, and bansuri flute. This with the use of Eastern heptatonic (seven tone) scales have created a totally new sound within his composition. These decisions to incorporate non-traditional instruments with his modal style of jazz gives this most recent album a new set of colors while also tipping its hat to the old jazz sound of the day. These are the types of experimentations and fusions that allow a genera to continue a fresh progression into the future.

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CITED

“Dizzy Gillespie.” Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2015.

“Stan Getz.” Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2015.

“Bossa Nova.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2015.

“Grover Washington, Jr. | Biography | AllMusic.” AllMusic. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2015.
“Matthew Halsall | Biography | AllMusic.” AllMusic. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2015.