Jazz rock fusion returns!

Tom Jackson
Mar 23, 2010

Who says there's never any good news these days? 1970s-style jazz-rock fusion is back, at least for awhile.

Back in the late 1970s, when I was avidly buying LPs to play on my turntable, three fusion groups reigned supreme, and brought jazz to a new group of younger, rock-oriented listeners. They were the Mahavishnu Orchestra, led by guitarist John McLaughlin; Return to Forever, a band formed by keyboard genius Chick Corea, and Weather Report, which included keyboard player Joe Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter. Every one of those musicians is a jazz star who once played in one of Miles Davis' bands.

Corea and McLaughlin have united to form a new band, Five Peace Band, which also includes three other musicians also well-known to jazzbos: Saxophonist Kenny Garrett, drummer Vince Colaiuta and bassist Christian McBride. The new supergroup has issued a live album, "Five Peace Band Live," which shows that it can play jazz in a variety of idioms.

Jazz writer Jeffrey Siegel writes, "Selecting Garrett for the group was a pivotal decision, as his towering horn plays a major part in making the group go. Listening to his contributions makes one wonder what either Return to Forever or Mahavishnu Orchestra might have sounded like had they added a top notch horn player, or perhaps what Weather Report could have been with a master guitar player."