Various Artists

Atlantic Jazz: Fusion

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For wary listeners who flee at the mention of fusion and all its attendant navel-gazing intricacy, this sampler of Atlantic-released cuts could make for either the ideal quotient filler or a gateway to overplayed jazz heaven. Broken off from the label's gargantuan jazz box set, this six-track offering covers the heart of the genre with decent to enthralling work from bassist Miroslav Vitous' important 1969 date Mountain in the Clouds ("Freedom Jazz Dance") to Gallic chopsmeister Jean-Luc Ponty's 1978 Cosmic Messenger ("Egocentric Molecules"). And filling in the cerebral jazz-funk landscape, soul tenor great Les McCann rides with Yusef Lateef and David Spinozza for some extended musings on "Beaux J. Poo Boo," Billy Cobham brings the cyber strains on "Quadrant 4" (from his landmark Spectrum LP), and Larry Coryell and Alphonse Mouzon reunite for 1977's "Beneath the Earth." Yes, it's all muscle-bound complexity and science-fiction allusions, but what's there to lose when there's a tidy set on offer for what's likely to be a cutout bin price.

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