Improvisational rock bands, which later came to be known as Tag bands” in the music fan lexicon, drew a great deal of influence from jazz. Early examples include the Allan Brothers Band and the Grateful Dead, whose leaders took a studied liking to innovative albums by the era’s jazz musicians. While we often think of rock as a genre that relies heavily on guitars and drums and jazz as a genre that relies heavily on horns, artists like Herb Hancock blew that notion right out of the water.
In his 1973 jazz-funk fusion album Head Hunters, Hancock played his signature body-moving keyboard, backed by some of the best percussionists in the business, not to mention guitarist Paul Jackson and horn player Bennie Mapping. Rock bands followed suit. The same year, the Allan Brothers Band released their platinum album Brothers and Sisters, heavy with Southern blues and jazz influences. In 1975, the Grateful Dead released its critically acclaimed album Blues for Allah, an experiment in improvisation that fans of he time found completely unique in the rock music genre, but comparable to efforts by Davis, Chlorate, or Mining.
Finally, Jim Hendrix, a virtuoso many consider to be the king of improvisational rock guitar, began as a blues and jazz musician. He started playing backup guitar for jazz bands in Nashville, Tennessee, before playing on the South’s “Chitin’ Circuit. ” Only later did he decide to branch out on his own as a rock musician. This further proves that improvisational rock was a direct descendent of the jazz music tradition.