Jazz-funk is a subgenre of jazz music characterized by a strong back beat (groove), electrified sounds[1] and an early prevalence of analog synthesizers. The integration of funk, soul, and R&B music and styles into jazz resulted in the creation of a genre whose spectrum is quite wide and ranges from strong jazz improvisation to soul, funk or disco with jazz arrangements, jazz riffs, and jazz solos, and sometimes soul vocals.[2]

Jazz-funk is primarily an American genre, where it was popular throughout the 1970s and the early 1980s, but it also achieved noted appeal on the club-circuit in England during the mid-1970s. Similar genres include soul jazz and jazz fusion, but neither entirely overlap with jazz-funk. Notably jazz-funk is less vocal, more arranged and featured more improvisation than soul jazz, and retains a strong feel of groove and R&B versus some of the jazz fusion production.

Musical approach

The latter period of trumpeter Miles Davis' career was controversial for its incorporation of non-jazz idioms

An extension of the jazz field, jazz-funk exhibits several distinctive characteristics.

A first is the departure from ternary rhythm (near-triplet), i.e. the "swing" (see swing rhythm), to the more danceable and unfamiliar binary rhythm, known as the "groove". Hence this new jazz type's association with funk, a genre that created this groove rhythm, which was spearheaded by James Brown's drummers Clyde Stubblefield and John "Jabo" Starks.

A second characteristic of jazz-funk music was the use of electric instruments, such as the Rhodes Piano or the electric bass guitar, particularly in jazz fusion (or electro-jazz), and the first use of analogue electronic instruments notably by Herbie Hancock, whose jazz-funk period saw him surrounded on stage or in the studio by several Moog synthesizers. The ARP Odyssey, ARP String Ensemble and Hohner D6 Clavinet also became popular at the time.

A third feature is the shift of proportions between composition and improvisation. Arrangements, melody, and overall writing were heavily emphasised. In a nutshell this is a departure from post bop and free or modal jazz back to a more structured music, and often danceable (as influenced by the street and its popular funk movement of the era).

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