Welcome again to Heavy Vanguard—your ticket to the farthest and weirdest reaches of music. While avant-garde and experimental music is, again, strange upon first listen, it's also massively important to music as a whole. After all, innovation doesn't happen through repetition; it takes people willing to take chances on new things and mark uncharted territory for us to truly move forward. And no other album we've covered so far (with the possible exception of Trout Mask Replica) has been as far-reaching and influential as the one we cover this week: Soft Machine's iconic album Third.
Welcome to Jazz Club, where we might actually be on track this week! Actually, it’s true; we have a real topic and real albums to bring to your earballs, all about one of the most revolutionary (and highly criticized at the time) forms of jazz of all time, Jazz Fusion! A little note before we start, though: all three albums featured today have sizable contributions from guitarists. Although fusion includes more instrumentation beyond the guitar (for example, Mahavishnu Orchestra once included violinist Jon Luc Ponty), guitar was essentially the big focal point of the genre, as fusion is a blend (no duh) of a few genres with jazz, the biggest being rock music. (Of course, there are other jazz guitarists that aren’t fusion, such as Django Reinhardt, but this is a new sound we’re talking about.) So without further ado, let's defuse a contentious - but rewarding - subgenre of jazz.
After we provided a general introduction for the genre in our last Jazz Club, Jimmy and I tossed around the idea of writing an adjacent piece catered specifically to metal fans. As with any genre, it's easier to crack into the overall style with a handful of bands or albums that incorporate elements from genres that the listener is already familiar with. There are some pretty strong links between jazz and metal, which made it easy to select a well-rounded list of albums to recommend for metal fans who want their jazz to have an added edge. Some of these releases lean more towards one genre than the other, but they're all excellent in their own right and provide a solid, metallic gateway into jazz.