Archive for the ‘John McLaughlin’ Category

John McLaughlin’s brilliant Corea

February 24, 2009

Thanks to Andrew Robertson:

John McLaughlin’s and Chick Corea’s Five Peace Band graced Adelaide last week with a concert of effortless brilliance.

This was not a band as much as it was an ensemble, all five musicians being equal – albeit that McLaughlin and Corea were both (if that is possible) first among equals.

It seemed to me that Corea rather than McLaughlin was the bandleader, even though it was McLaughlin standing centre-stage and whose name was first on the bill – but it was Corea’s keyboards that the music seemed to be built around.

How often does one get to hear two Miles Davis alumni play? And yet, it wasn’t two Miles Davis alumni playing, it was one Five Peace Band. This was a concert at which the music was the star, not the players. So perfectly did the band meld that the music they created became bigger than any of them. They were one whole – and that cliché about the whole being greater than the sum of the parts was never more true.

Reflecting after the concert, I was struck by the fact that I didn’t really remember any great solos – of course they had played them, but they were not the experience of the night, because that would have individualized it, whereas this night was about the totality of the music.

Jazz is sometimes considered to be serious, but this jazz was joyful. I think after every song they all acknowledged each other. If it was a Corea composition, he would acknowledge each band member and McLaughlin. Similarly McLaughlin with his compositions. This respect for each other was uplifting, and it uplifted the music. The respect for the music was reverent – but not in a stuffy, religious, can’t-touch-it kind of way. It was earthy and honest, reflected in their big beaming smiles and warm embraces. There was no distance between band and audience.

Christian McBride on bass is as good as they come – he had also played in Adelaide a couple of years ago with Pat Metheny, another great concert. Kenny Garrett on sax was outstanding, and Brian Blade did amazing things on his drums. These guys were all of the calibre of Miles Davis alumni, even though, of course, only Garrett is. Could anyone have played better? Billy Cobham? Wayne Shorter? I don’t know, and it really doesn’t matter – but I think there comes a time when the music just can’t be played any better, and this ensemble achieved that, at least to my ears!

Songs included McLaughlin’s New Blues, Old Bruise (great song title!) and Senor CS from Industrial Zen, and an expansive Raju; Corea’s Hymn to Andromeda; Dr Jackle, an old Miles Davis track (although I am not sure whether he wrote it); and a couple more.

So that’s the story of John’s brilliant Corea and Chick’s brilliant career.

Andrew in Adelaide

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Leonard Cohen, Conor Oberst and John McLaughlin – top gigs for grown-ups in 2008

December 29, 2008
The year just ending was a vintage year for live music. From grand opera house to sweaty rock dive, and worthy municipal folk gig to massive arena poprock spectacular, I saw some great musicians for grown-ups performing in 2008.

The five gigs which will linger longest in my memory were:

1. Leonard Cohen – London O2
2. Conor Oberst – Portsmouth
3. John McLaughlin – Barbican
4. Bjork – Plymouth
5. Cecilia Bartoli – Barbican

And the two next best were:
6. Morrissey – Roundhouse
7. Hansel & Gretel – Royal Opera House

What were your top 5 gigs? Please share your list with other readers – please email me at info@musicforgrown-ups.com

Gerry Smith

John McLaughlin to Dvorak, Beck to Chick Corea, Paul Weller to Youssou N’Dour

November 4, 2008
FREE! Music for grown-ups on the BBC in the next 10 days:

Hidden among its vast output, BBC TV and radio has some magnificent music for grown-ups – every week of the year. And it’s all free – well, sort of… .

Wed 5 Nov
1200 & 2200 Dvorak, Composer Of The Week – BBC Radio 3
(3/5, continues Thurs-Fri)

Thurs 6 Nov
2300 Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour (rpt) – BBC Radio 2
2355 Beck, BBC Four Sessions – BBC Four

Fri 7 Nov
2355, Randy Newman, BBC Four Sessions – BBC Four

Sat 8 Nov
1600 John McLaughlin, Jazz Library (part 2) – BBC Radio 3
2400 Chick Corea, Jazz Library – BBC Radio 3

Sun 9 Nov
2400 Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour (new) – BBC 6 Music

Thurs 13 Nov
2300 Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour (rpt) – BBC Radio 2
0030 Youssou N’Dour, BBC Four Sessions – BBC Four

Fri 14 Nov
2100 Paul Weller: Into Tomorrow – BBC Four
2230 Paul Weller, BBC Four Sessions – BBC Four

Online access: many BBC radio programmes are broadcast online, streamed. Please see the channels’ web sites for details. Archived BBC radio and TV programmes are accessible online for a short period via:

www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer

Gerry Smith

Fela Kuti to Neil Young, John McLaughlin to Mahler, Mozart to Ryan Adams

October 28, 2008
FREE! Music for grown-ups on the BBC in the next 10 days:

Hidden among its vast output, BBC TV and radio has some magnificent music for grown-ups – every week of the year. And it’s all free (well, sort of… ).

The next ten days sees an unusually rich feast of great musicians:

Wed 29 Oct
1200 & 2200 Mahler, Composer Of The Week – BBC Radio 3
(3/5, continues Thurs-Fri)

Thurs 30 Oct
2300 Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour (rpt) – BBC Radio 2
2355, David Byrne, BBC Four Sessions (rpt) – BBC Four
0055, Ryan Adams, BBC Four Sessions (rpt) – BBC Four

Fri 31 Oct
2130 Neil Young, In Concert (1971) – BBC Four
2200 Neil Young – Don’t Be Denied – BBC Four
2300 CSNY/Déjà Vu – BBC Four

Sat 1 Nov
1600 John McLaughlin, Jazz Library – BBC Radio 3
1800 Cosi Fan Tutte, from Vienna – BBC Radio 3
1900 The Fourth, the Fifth, the Minor Fall (Leonard Cohen’s masterpiece, Hallelujah) – BBC Radio 2
2400 Bud Powell, Jazz Library – BBC Radio 3

Sun 2 Nov
2315/0240 Neil Young – Don’t Be Denied – BBC Four
2400 Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour (new) – BBC 6 Music

Mon 3 Nov
1200 & 2200 Dvorak, Composer Of The Week – BBC Radio 3
(1/5, continues Tues-Fri)

Tues 4 Nov
2230 Fela Kuti, the Afrobeat Revolutionary – BBC Radio 2

Thurs 6 Nov
2300 Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour (rpt) – BBC Radio 2
2355 Beck, BBC Four Sessions (rpt) – BBC Four

Fri 7 Nov
2355, Randy Newman, BBC Four Sessions – BBC Four

Online access: many BBC radio programmes are broadcast online, streamed. Please see the channels’ web sites for details. Archived BBC radio and TV programmes are accessible online for a short period via:

www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer

Gerry Smith

John McLaughlin, London, Saturday: virtuoso jazz guitar

June 2, 2008

Rounding off a month-long Euro tour to promote Floating Point, the new CD, John McLaughlin played a sell-out gig at London’s Barbican on Saturday.  For over two and a half hours, his band, The Fourth Dimension, revisited McLaughlin’s back pages and introduced some recent sounds.

 

It was an outstanding gig – one for the scrapbook.  The standing ovation was the only possible response.

 

As hoped, the leader’s picking ranged between divine and tumultuous.  Technical brilliance and jaw-dropping agility, allied to endless innovation and a beautiful tone, made this an electric guitar master-class.  There might be a stronger contender for the title of world’s leading guitarist, but I don’t know of one.

 

Jazz-fusion is a collaborative enterprise, though, and McLaughlin was well served by a trio of master musicians.  An inspired Mark Mondesir kept the groove going all night.  Gary Husband, doubling up on keyboards and second drums, and up for it from the off, should be paid twice for this gig.  Stand-in bassist Dominique Di Piazza anchored the riffing with firmness and finesse.

 

Highlight?  In addition to McLaughlin’s virtuosic melody lines, the finale featured a complex, heated percussive discussion between Mondesir and Husband, prompted, interrupted and encouraged by fills from the two guitarists.  Rhythm improvisation simply doesn’t get any better than this.  

 

Saturday’s London gig was one of those rare shows which moves you for days afterwards, inspiring you to investigate the musician’s back catalogue in its entirety.  Pleasures in store.         

 

Way back in the 1970s, I missed John McLaughlin the first time round.  Or, to be more accurate, I DIS-missed him.  Jazz-rock?  Naaah – far too grown-up for me.  Elton John, 10cc, Melanie …, mate.  I cringe at the memory of those wasted years.

 

More recently, I found McLaughlin via Miles Davis.  Not difficult for a Davis fan – John plays on no fewer than nine Miles albums, including fusion masterpieces In A Silent Way (my favourite album in all music), Bitches Brew and Jack Johnson.  Miles even named tracks after him on two different LPs.

 

I’ve been dutifully seeking out gigs and by the musicians who play on In A Silent Way.  Herbie Hancock?  Seen him.  Wayne Shorter?  Yep.  Dave Holland?  Sure.  Joe Zawinul.  Tick.  And now the great John McLaughlin.  Which leaves only Tony Williams and the Great Man himself.  I’m hoping to catch those two in Music Heaven.

 

Gerry Smith 

 

 

 

Lovely gigs in 2008

April 4, 2008

After a couple of years in which my gigging became a bit narrowly focussed and predictable – mainly opera, with a bit of jazz, world and rock – 2008 is promising to be rather more richly eclectic. 

Having already seen three compelling gigs – Morrissey at the Roundhouse, Dorothea Roschmann singing Lieder at Vienna’s Musikverein, and Salome at Covent Garden, I’m keenly anticipating lots more varied shows, including several key musicians for grown-ups who’ve been on my must-see list for years:

 

April: Bjork     

 

May: Roberto Alagna; John McLaughlin

 

June: Don Carlo; Ariadne; Pentangle

 

July: Leonard Cohen; Marriage of Figaro

 

Dec: Cecilia Bartoli

 

Having re-found the taste for eclectic gigs, I’m eagerly looking for others – top live music for grown-ups is one of the greatest thrills of all.

   Gerry Smith