Jazz  •  Fusion

Crossover Jazz

With the gradual decline of rock (from an artistic standpoint) starting in the early '70s, fusion (a mixture of jazz improvisations with rock rhythms) became more predictable because there was less input and inspiration from the rock world. At the same time, since it was proven that electric jazz could sell records, producers and some musicians searched for other combinations of styles in order to have big sellers. They were quite successful in making their brand of jazz more accessible to the average consumer. Many different combinations were tried, and promoters and publicists enjoy using the term "contemporary jazz" to describe these "fusions" of jazz with elements of pop music, R&B, and world music. However, the word "crossover" (which describes the intent of the performances as well as the usual results) is more accurate. Crossover and fusion have been quite valuable in increasing the jazz audience (many of whom end up exploring other styles). In some cases, the music is quite worthwhile; in other instances, the jazz content is a relatively small part of the ingredients. When the style is actually pop music with only an insignificant amount of improvisation (meaning that it is largely outside of jazz), the term "instrumental pop" is the best description. Examples of crossover range from Al Jarreau and George Benson vocal records to Kenny G., Spyro Gyra, and the Rippingtons. All contain the influence of jazz but tend to fall as much (if not more) into the pop field.