The 60s was, among many things, an era of musical exploration and discovery. Rock, pop, soul, and even jazz all went through a period of transformation as the age of electronic instruments began to take hold and new sounds, unlike anything that had come before, began to surge into pop culture.
The latter, jazz, slowly evolved into the genre known as jazz fusion. Classic improvisational style was combined with other genres such as rock, latin, funk, and the blues, among others. The result is music that is truly unique in its complexity and sound. In appreciation of this genre, which developed out of the late 60s and the same era that saw a huge boom in the popularity of cannabis, enjoy this suggested collection of wonderful jazz fusion albums to listen to while stoned.
1. Head Hunters by Herbie Hancock
Strain Pairing Recommendation: Acapulco Gold
There are only four songs on the album Head Hunters, but don’t be fooled–there’s over 40 mins of gloriously funky rhythms to get lost in. Released in 1973, the first song, “Chameleon,” is perhaps one of Hancock’s most famous. This comes as no surprise as the 15 minute track features a powerful, enthralling bass line which sets the stage for a whirlwind of funk and intricacy. What follows is an album which compels the listener to dive ever deeper into a wild cacophony of madness and brilliance. The album ends with the aptly named “Vein Melter,” which slows things back down with a sound that is at once both melodious lullaby and intricate wordless tale.
2. Black Market by Weather Report
Strain Pairing Recommendation: Maui Wowie
Released in 1976, this seven track album is a collaboration of eight musicians, including pianist Joe Zawinul; sax player, Wayne Shorter; and bassist Jaco Pastorius, who is featured on two tracks. A fundamental jazz fusion album, Black Market features a range of musical influences and draws heavily from African sounds. The album is often described as “world fusion.” From the title track, “Black Market,” to the final “Herandu,” the album takes the listener through a range of emotions, sensations, and intricate melodies that leave one feeling as though they’ve visited a world’s worth of spaces.
3. Innervisions by Stevie Wonder
Strain Pairing Recommendation: Blue Dream
Stepping away from the instrumental albums brings us to Innervisions and Wonder’s effortlessly smooth voice paired with personal, politically impactful lyrics. One of the most remarkable aspects of the album is that Wonder recorded it nearly single-handedly, playing all the instruments on the majority of the nine tracks. Lyric themes include classics such as love and hard-hitting topics such as systematic racism, drug abuse, and even US politics. The tracks fluctuate in sound from funk, ballads, soul, and rock, while weaving classic jazz sounds throughout. The album is at once both engaging, entertaining, and stimulating, granting a look into the mind of one of the greats.
4. In a Silent Way by Miles Davis
Strain Pairing Recommendation: Northern Lights
Released exactly 10 years after his acclaimed jazz album, Kinda Blue, Davis’ introduced the world to In a Silent Way, a brilliant blend of spacey, ambient, and rich jazz fusion. The album marks the beginning of Davis’ venture into the “electric” and “fusion” worlds, stepping away from the more classic jazz records he had previously produced. Recorded in a single session, the album gently lures the listener into imaginative and compelling landscapes of sound. Best paired with a creative mind and mellow strain, In a Silent Way will happily paint pictures in the mind of those willing to see.
5. Thrust by Herbie Hancock
Strain Pairing Recommendation: Durban Poison
Coming full circle, we revisit Hancock to explore his album Thrust, released in 1974. The album followed Head Hunters and received similar acclaim. Once again, Hancock proves he needs no more than four tracks to present nearly 40 minutes of immersive jazz-funk. Addictive bass lines and a superior blend of electric instruments cook up a recipe for four tracks of tantalizing, funky, spacey sound and a truly immersive musical experience. This album can be heard, felt, and nearly tasted as it winds together in perfect harmony. The strong funk influences will make it hard not to groove and move as you listen along.
The world of jazz fusion offers a plethora of sounds and experiences as it explores the many ways in which jazz can complement and invigorate other genres such as rock, funk, soul, and more. I can think of no more immersive genre to explore hand-in-hand with the music-amplifying power of cannabis. Turn on the tunes and enter a world, a story, and an experience.