Fusion has meant many things, but the initial hit, spelled out by Bitches Brew, was simple: jazz improvisations over a rock-like rhythm bed. Tailor-made for hotshot electric guitarists and synthesists, it went through many changes from its Seventies heyday. Now, even such pablumized instrumental pop music as Kenny G's gets labeled "fusion". The squishiness of the term makes it impossible to arrive at a definitive list of 10 fusion titles - does Frank Zappa, architect of so much impossibly technical jazz-rock count? Do British prog-rockers like Steve Hillage and Gong? What about the abstractions of Ornette Coleman circa "Dancing In Your Head"? Rather than cover the waterfront, we concentrate on guitar-oriented fusion albums from some of the genre's major figures.
Splendido Hotel (Columbia, 1979)
When Al DiMeola first appeared on the scene in 1974 as a member of Return to Forever, his fleet-fingered runs and dramatic careening phrases…