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Fusion at its best

The Collection
The Collection
By Tony Williams Lifetime

Columbia Records: 1992

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This review first appeared in the November 27, 1992 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

Former Miles Davis drummer Tony Williams always had a hot band, and this compilation of his 1975 and '76 albums ("Believe It" and "Million Dollar Legs," respectively) captures that fusion heat. Joined by guitarist Allan Holdsworth, keyboardist Alan Pasqua and bassist Tony Newton, Williams lays down some of the meatiest, funkiest fusion ever played.

This album, more so even than others in Columbia's series of fusion reissues, shows that the best fusion was about more than mixing a rock beat with jazz improvisation – it was about a new way of approaching music, of tearing down the artificial walls we use to categorize music. A lot of hacks who couldn't play marketed their schlock as "fusion," leading us to the modern world of "smooth jazz" that isn't jazz. But the four members of Lifetime were stellar musicians, and the ideas they explore here are very much worth hearing.