RSL/Koch Jazz/Redial Joe Harriott (double quintet) & John Mayer : Indo-Jazz Suite (IND/US,1966)****°
Redial Rec. Joe Harriott (d.q.) & John Mayer : Indo-Jazz Fusions & Fusions II (IND/US,1967&1968)***°'
I’m not sure what the earliest recordings available of Indo-jazz fusions are, but the earliest example which I’ve heard that was successful is the cooperation between Joe Harriott and John Mayer on their 1966 album.
The album was reissued recently but for some reason they did not take the original sleeve and made an –awful- replacement instead. Their second album, 'Fusions' was reissued a couple of times before. Now 'Fusions' (1967) and 'Fusions II' (1968) are re-released as two on one. These albums are meant as the follow-ups, that tried to melt the Indian and jazz style completely, into “Fusion”. In fact both styles melted more into jazz, which I found more of a compromise to the Indian musicians, compared to the successful challenge of the first album which was already complete on its own.
On this second album, you can hear how the Indian musicians seem to be already at ease but not yet fully experienced in all the levels of energy in jazz and improvisation, and so this new performance is rather safe. It is still successful and highly enjoyable. On “Acka Raga” there’s a certain pop ability.
At the time of the third album the musicians were used to playing together for a longer period. John Mayer adapted some changes to make jazz improvisation more possible (“I found that jazz musicians improvise better over simpler rhythms”). In this case it is the bebop jazz that has certain tendencies of expressions, but once the group feels that these elements have there freedom, an extra element of free expression is settled in. Flute and sax gets more parts of improvisations, and also the keyboards add extra colours, and also some melodies with its own inner colours take shape.
It is a very good idea to combine both LP’s on one CD, because in this way it is easy to hear a slow evolution as if the group worked deliberately on a musical concept, in which their intended cooperation works well. (This kind of concept-feeling in a group in general is something which can lead to a very distinctive group sound). The music is lead by Indian John Mayer who based his music on Indian Raga principles, but who transcended them into various western standards. On this last album, with the addition of some simple open structures it became, luckily more than can be rationalised.
PS.1 'Shiva Nataraj-King Of Dance' (see cover right) also has "Indo-Jazz Fusions" on the cover. This is very confusing, but this last one is a more recent release and recording!! PS.2 The original liner notes are added to the reissue.