For the most part Europeans, and especially Scandinavians, are miles ahead of Americans when it comes to the seamless integration of jazz with sampling, beats, and electronics that is Nü-Jazz. Nils Petter Molvær brought out Khmer in 1995, while Bugge Wesseltoft, Jazzanova and St. Germain have been working this territory easily as long. Guitarists mining this particular type of fusion also seem to reside on the east side of the Atlantic: Eivind Aarset, Bram Stadhouders, Jeff Beck, Stian Westerhus, and Nguyên Lê have been long at home with the grooves of EDM and/or the sounds of experimental electronica.
West of the Atlantic, American jazz artists have been known to dabble with the form. The video above is a relatively successful attempt by the Harriet Tubman Trio to meld their distinctive brand of fusion with a couple of DJs and the trumpet that seems to be omnipresent in nü-jazz bands (i.e. the aforementioned Molvær, Arve Henriksen, Jon Hassell, Cuong Vu, Mathias Eick, Ben Neil…the list goes on).
Other notable American guitarists attempting this concoction are Nels Cline (when not spicing up Wilco), John Scofield with his Uberjam band, and former Shadowfax guitarist G.E. Stinson. Unlike Tubman’s Brandon Ross, these guitarists blend their guitars into the mix with the creative use of effects. Still, save for Stinson, who consistently works with beat loops, they are representative of the reason American nü-jazz lags behind its European/Scandinavian counterpart—lack of commitment to the form.
Sco’s electro-funk experiment is a sometime thing; Cline’s work outside of Wilco only occasionally nods to club sounds, and Tubman leans more towards modern fusion most of the time.
None of this is to say that nü-jazz is better than what they usually do. This is only an observation as to why, when Americans venture into this territory, the results can sound at best full of unrealized potential, and at worst half-baked. It would be great to hear some American jazz musicians embrace the world of computers and beats as a long term, exclusive relationship, rather than a one-night stand.