Gideon King is a New York City composer, guitar player, and producer known for his work with some of the world’s finest musicians. His projects move through a wide array of musical genres, including jazz, fusion, funk, and pop.
I grew up in the midst of a peaceful music war. I often went to sleep at night with my head against a wall vibrating with the sound of modern jazz improvisation. My brother, a well-known jazz pianist, had his piano on the other side of this wall and I rarely missed a note as he cleverly referenced Mccoy Tyner, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and many others. My sisters, on the other hand, were in hippy mode, celebrating the lyrics and melodies of Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and others that put the acoustic guitar first in their music. My parents, while haltingly accepting the intellectual validity of the jazz genre, insisted that classical music was the only heightened form of musical expression. I was engaged by all of these different sounds and so I pined for compromise, a harmonization of the best elements of different musical approaches.
While fusion is often associated with electric instruments and highly processed sounds, for me it is simply a melting together of different musical styles in order to mediate the fight between complexity and beauty; modern jazz and classical music are often rhythmically and harmonically complex, but in the end, cold to the touch for anyone other than an “expert,” whereas pop music and rock may lack musical sophistication but miraculously access emotions with more immediacy. Fusion is not ashamed of a simple melody, nor is it incapable of accommodating complexity and avante garde concepts.