The Best Jazz Rock Albums of All Time
The earliest origins of jazz rock are open for debate. One thing that cannot be debated is when the genre became the mainstream. That honor goes to Miles Davis, probably the greatest jazz man in terms of developing new and distinct styles of jazz in its history.
Mahavishnu Orchestra: The Inner Mounting Flame
The Inner Mounting Flame from Mahavishnu Orchestra is where you realize that what you thought was high quality musicianship was a fraud. This instrumental only band made bands like Deep Purple and The Who seem like amateurs.
Guitarist John McLaughlin, fresh off his stint with Miles Davis, where he participated on In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. With Jan hammer on keyboards, yes the same guy who did the Miami Vice theme, and super drummer Billy Cobham, they propel this band to Metallic heights not dreamed of, especially since this record was made in 1971!
Billy Cobham: Spectrum
Spectrum is a classic jazz rock fusion workout, and a drummer’s dream of an album, with Cobham being one of the best ever on the skins.
Spectrum may be best known as a one of guitarist Tommy Bolin’s last sessions before his premature death in 1976. A lot of strange time signatures all over spectrum, and quite a bit of funk rears its welcome head as well.
Lenny White: Venusian Summer
Drummer Lenny White cut his teeth on Andrew Hill’s Passing Ships, unfortunately the album was not released until 1995.
Lenny is perhaps best known as the drummer for Chick Corea’s Return to Forever. Venusian Summer is an album that is firmly in the prog realm.
Return to Forever: Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy
Jazz pianist Chick Corea came to the mass public conscious on Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew.
Chick, shortly after leaving Miles in 1970, went on to form Return to Forever. In 1973 guitarist Bill Connors teamed up with Stanley Clarke on bass, Lenny White on drums, and Chick on Electric Piano and Synthesizer.
Miles Davis: Bitches Brew
1970’s Bitches Brew, the album that gets the credit for spawning the jazz rock movement. Though many others joined the two before this, even Davis’ own In a Silent Way from the year before moved in this direction.
But unlike Bitches Brew, that album was subtle and ethereal. Bitches Brew is very avant-garde in nature, still plenty of rockish grooves, but a whole lot more to digest being a double album.
John Abercrombie: Timeless
Timeless is one of my favorite jazz rock fusion albums.
A trio recording, that sounds much bigger than you might expect. Jan Hammer on Hammond organ, piano, and synthesizers, Jack Dejohnette on drums, and the leader John Abercrombie on guitar.
Miles Davis: In a Silent Way
In a Silent Way was the calm before the storm for Miles Davis and his jazz rock music.
In a Silent Way is quite simply one of the most breathtakingly beautiful pieces of music ever recorded in any genre. In a Silent Way is also notable for producer Teo Macero’s use of Tape splices and edits, which were very groundbreaking then.
Santana on a progressive rock review page? you bet they are! Santana was one of the most important of the prog bands, they brought an authentic Latin influence into the music.
Caravanserai was Santana’s 4th album, and it has a completely different sound than the previous albums.