The first of two CDs covering the fusion years is mostly not in chronological order but generally predates Vol. 2; all but one selection is from 1970-78. Rather than being a "best of" collection, this is really just an overview of the style, a dozen strong selections from a variety of formerly released albums by some of the pacesetters of the music. Included is a selection apiece from Larry Coryell, Tony Williams Lifetime, Joe Zawinul ("In a Silent Way"), Coryell's Eleventh House, Herbie Hancock, Return to Forever (the original version of "Spain"), Billy Cobham, Mike Mainieri (1981's "Flying Colours"), the duo of Jerry Goodman & Jan Hammer, the Cobham-George Duke Band, Narada Michael Walden and Jean-Luc Ponty ("Cosmic Messenger"). Among the sidemen in these overlapping groups are John McLaughlin, Miroslav Vitous, Randy Brecker, Alphonse Mouzon, Joe Farrell, Flora Purim, John Scofield and the Brecker Brothers. Both sets are worth picking up as introductions to the style.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow