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Transfusion One

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Album Review

In July of 1969 Miles Davis recorded Bitches Brew, which became the clarion call for a new type of music called fusion. In an attempt to mix the improvisation of jazz with the raucous (and loud) rhythms of rock, Davis, along with groups like Weather Report, catapulted this musical marriage upon the public and other jazz musicians alike. Drummer Les DeMerle formed Transfusion to record this fusion album in 1976. The band's excursion down the fusion road is done with more imagination and with better results than achieved by other groups that followed the same route. The play list, composed and/or arranged by members of the group, manages to avoid the rhythmic rut many of those playing fusion fell into. One outstanding example is where DeMerle redefines fusion on "Gypsy Rondo." This tune represents a merging of multiple genres, as Robby Robinson's piano kicks off in a classical vein playing Franz Josef Haydn's music, then moves to straight-ahead swing as DeMerle runs alongside with his rat-a-tat-tat drums. They are then joined by a synthesizer combined with some Barry Coats guitar, before returning once again to Haydn. More than any other cut on the CD, this track retains listener attention. The individual members of the group are given lots of opportunities to show off their soloing skills. Mark Hatch's trumpet leads the way on "Kaballa." "Moon Dial," which comes closer to pure rock, features the probing, argumentative saxes of Bunk Gardner and Sam Riney. The album's opener "Canned Heat Suite" is just that, hot and waiting to be let loose — which happens during a frenzied guitar solo by Coats. Soap opera addicts will recognize "Nadia's Theme" from The Young and the Restless. If you yearn for those days when fusion ruled the jazz world, then this previously unreleased album is for you.

Transfusion One, Les DeMerle Transfusion
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