The Essential John McLaughlin

The Essential John McLaughlin

by John McLaughlin
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The Essential John McLaughlin

While it would be utterly foolish to consider a two-disc set by guitarist John McLaughlin as anything other than a sample of the wildly diverse career he's enjoyed since the early '60s, it should be noted and underscored that what Legacy does with this set is to provide a solid look at not only the man's gifts but at the way he's employed them, exploited them, and let them get the best of him for the past 40-plus years. There are 23 cuts spread across these discs, and they are cross-licensed from a number of different labels -- this should always be done, and it seems that Legacy is the only shop that does this consistently well. The collection begins at the beginning: way back in 1963 when McLaughlin and his musical partners in crime, bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker, played Sonny Rollins' "Doxy" in the Graham Bond Organisation. The tune swings, even if it is a little stiff, but these were very young cats who were as dedicated to "getting it right" as possible. This gives way to the rather startling contrast of "Spectrum," played as a member of Tony Williams Lifetime with organist Larry Young as well as Williams (and predating McLaughlin's tenure with Miles Davis); there's "Marbles," from his Devotion album where the guitarist and Young played with drummer Buddy Miles. It's an interesting piece where it occurs here because it exists in the gap between McLaughlin's leaving Miles Davis and before playing with the Mahavishnu Orchestra. It's a great cut, but it shines more for Young's work than the leader's. "Right Off," from Davis' Jack Johnson album, is here -- at least a 17-plus-minute edit of it -- and it walks the same basic terrain that "Marbles" does, though it is far funkier and knottier. Rather than just jump into the Mahavishnu territory, McLaughlin's work with saxophonist Joe Farrell and then with Carla Bley is highlighted here as well, spreading the color and texture to the corners a bit more. Already, he was a ten-year veteran of the scene and had become a very diverse member of it. Disc one closes with three tunes from the various early incarnations of Mahavishnu, from the debut Inner Mounting Flame, Birds of Fire, and then on to an excerpt of John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" with Carlos Santana.But disc one tells the familiar story, despite its ornament and diversity. The place where it begins to stray across many paths seemingly simultaneously is on disc two. While the second incarnation of Mahavishnu is where it begins -- with the cut "Wings of Karma," from Apocalypse -- where the voice and timbre of McLaughlin's insistent muse is making itself heard. The track "India," from 1975 and performed with the Indian trio Shakti (Zakir Hussain, Lakshminarayana Shankar, and T.H. Vinayakram), marks the beginning of an entirely new mode of exploration for the guitarist. And so it goes, through the new technologically savvy, fused-out jazz on Electric Dreams in 1978, the more restrained but no less mechanical Electric Guitarist in 1979 (two tunes including a reading of the standard "My Foolish Heart," which is drenched in it), and the mess that was Trio of Doom with Jaco Pastorius and Tony Williams. This is easily the best cut from that collaboration. There is a track from the Guitar Trio album with Al Di Meola and Paco De Lucia, one from Palle Mikkelborg's Aura experiment with Miles once more, and cuts from Belo Horizonte, recorded for Warner in 1981, and "Wayne's Way," from Industrial Zen in 2006. In other words, the strange back and forth and continuously divergent paths McLaughlin has taken -- for good or ill -- is represented here by many of his finest performances. Even if that assertion is arguable, the one that isn't is that he is one of the most celebrated, widely regarded guitarists in jazz history, and one that helped to change the music forever in the same way that Wes Montgomery and Jim Hall did before him. This may be a smattering, but it is one that will get you on your way to discovering what you want to of his work, while leaving behind the rest.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/26/2007
Label: Sony Legacy
UPC: 0886970683128
catalogNumber: 706831

Album Credits

Performance Credits

John McLaughlin   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Electric Guitar
Jerry Goodman   Violin
Michael Shrieve   Drums
Ginger Baker   Drums
Jack Bruce   Bass,Bass Guitar
London Symphony Orchestra   Track Performer
Buddy Miles   Drums
Carla Bley   Organ,Guest Appearance
Thomas Clausen   Keyboards
Miles Davis   Trumpet,Guest Appearance
Jack DeJohnette   Drums
Paco de Lucía   Acoustic Guitar,Guest Appearance
Trilok Gurtu   Percussion
Jan Hammer   Drums,Keyboards
Herbie Hancock   Organ
Dave Holland   Bass,Bass Guitar
Rick Laird   Bass,Bass Guitar
Jaco Pastorius   Bass,Bass Guitar,Guest Appearance
Jean-Luc Ponty   Violin
Tony Williams   Drums,Guest Appearance
Larry Young   Organ
Palle Mikkelborg   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Jesper Thilo   Saxophone,Woodwind
Stu Goldberg   Keyboards
Katia Labèque   Piano
Jens Winther   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Graham Bond   Alto Saxophone,Guest Appearance
Bo Stief   Bass,Bass Guitar
Don Alias   Drums
Dennis Chambers   Drums
Airto Moreira   Percussion
Kenneth Knudsen   Keyboards
Ralphe Armstrong   Bass,Bass Guitar
Badal Roy   Tabla
Palle Bolvig   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Per Carsten   Saxophone,Woodwind
Stanley Clarke   Bass,Bass Guitar
Billy Cobham   Drums
Armando Anthony Corea   Electric Piano,Mini Moog
di Meola   Acoustic Guitar,Guest Appearance
Niels Eje   Oboe,Cor anglais
Jens Engel   Trombone
Joe Farrell   Tenor Saxophone
Lennart Gruvstedt   Drums
Charlie Haden   Bass,Bass Guitar
Paul Haines   Guest Appearance
Zakir Hussain   Tabla
Michael Henderson   Bass,Bass Guitar
Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen   Bass,Bass Guitar
Gary Husband   Keyboards
Bent Jaedig   Saxophone,Woodwind
Ole Kurt Jensen   Bass Trombone
Uffe Karskov   Saxophone,Woodwind
Perry Knudsen   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Ture Larsen   Trombone
David Liebman   Flute,Soprano Saxophone
Alyrio Lima   Percussion
Flemming Madsen   Saxophone,Woodwind
Mahalakshmi   Tamboura
Marilyn Mazur   Percussion
Narada Michael Walden   Drums
Gayle Moran   Keyboards
Paul Motian   Drums
Vincent Nilsson   Trombone
Doug Rauch   Bass,Bass Guitar
Billy Rich   Bass,Bass Guitar
Benny Rosenfeld   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Bjarne Roup   Guitar
Fernando Saunders   Bass,Bass Guitar
Lakshminarayana Shankar   Violin
Tony Smith   Drums
Idrees Sulieman   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Michael Tilson Thomas   Conductor
Lillian Thornquist   Harp
Vikku Vinayakram   Percussion
Ethan Weisgaard   Percussion
Vince Wilburn   Electronic Drums
Dominique Di Piazza   Bass,Bass Guitar
Khalid Yasin   Organ
Carlos Santana   Electric Guitar,Guest Appearance
Joe Farrell Quartet   Guest Appearance
Ole Kock Hansen   Keyboards
Ada Rovatti   Soprano Saxophone
Tony Grey   Bass,Bass Guitar
Graham Bod   Alto Saxophone
Axel Windfeld   Tuba,Bass Trombone
Jense Engel   Trombone
Lillian Toernqvist   Harp
Tony Smith   Drums
T.H. Vinayakram   Percussion

Technical Credits

Carla Bley   Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Miles Davis   Composer
Paco de Lucía   Producer,Audio Production
Mahavishnu Orchestra   Audio Production
Michael Mantler   Producer,Audio Production
John McLaughlin   Composer,Producer,Audio Production,MIDI
Charles Mingus   Composer
Sonny Rollins   Composer
Palle Mikkelborg   Composer,Producer,Audio Production
George Martin   Producer,Audio Production
Richard Aaron   Cover Photo
Michael Berniker   Producer,Audio Production
Stefan Bright   Producer,Audio Production
John Coltrane   Composer
di Meola   Producer,Audio Production
Giorgio Gomelsky   Producer,Audio Production
Paul Haines   Composer
Monte Kay   Audio Production
Jack Lewis   Audio Production
Dennis MacKay   Producer,Audio Production
Teo Macero   Producer,Audio Production
Lakshminarayana Shankar   Composer
Creed Taylor   Producer,Audio Production
Ned Washington   Composer
Victor Young   Composer
Bert de Coteaux   Producer,Audio Production
Bill Milkowski   Liner Notes
Carlos Santana   Producer,Audio Production
Howard Fritzson   Art Direction
Mike Kull   Tape Research
Jeremy Holiday   Packaging Manager
Steven Epstein   Producer,Audio Production

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The Essential John McLaughlin 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
John McLaughlin is one of the most influential and talented guitarists of all time, and unfortunately, one of the most underrated as well. He has worked with such legends as Miles Davis, Larry Coryell, The Rolling Stones, Carlos Santana, Al DiMeola, Jean-Luc Ponty, Billy Cobham, and Paco de Lucia over the last 40 years, but most people have never heard his music, perhaps because the radio does not play long instrumental music or jazz fusion. He skillfully blends rock, jazz, and often Indian classical styles into his own furious brand of jazz fusion to produce some of the finest albums ever recored. This new album includes some of his finest work, including "Rawalpindi Blues", "Goodbye Porkpie Hat"(Charles Mingus), "Birds of Fire", A Love Supreme"(Carlos Santana),and "David". He is equally brilliant playing acoustic and Flamingo guitar as he is on his many custom electric guitars. This is one of the best jazz fusion albums to buy if you are a fan or if you would like to explore the career of this virtuoso guitar guru.