John McLaughlin: This is the Way I Do It
For example, his approach to rhythmic phrasing across basic modes and pentatonic scales lets you see upon what his work in Shakti and Remember Shakti is based and his signature style sails through the opening few chapters (all on C Ionian!), borrowing greatly from Coltrane's use of rhythmical phrases. Indeed his musical influences and teachers are well in evidence, whether it be a phrase reminiscent of Miles, a chord voicing from Bill Evans or a rhythmical division straight from tabla. It is awe inspiring to feel that here the lineage of many of the jazz giants from the 20th century is distilled into one coherent stream soley for the benefit and edification of the student.
The bonus DVD features a humourous "Bloops" section where McLaughlin's outtakes show a very warm, human nature behind the intensity of the "professional" face. There is also a lovely photo album of pictures taken of McLaughlin in his own home and studio to lighten the atmosphere from all the hard work.
There is little if anything to be objectively critical of here; I'm at a loss though, to understand the rationale behind the artwork (McLaughlin posing with guitar in a long coat amidst an icy industrial landscape) other than some reference to "workshop." The application of the course to any other instrument is perhaps understandably limited, although many of the improvisational demonstrations were easily applicable to keyboards and saxophone. Perhaps it would have been aesthetically more pleasing to have had McLaughlin playing with some other live musicians rather than the sequenced backing tracks. Then again this may have detracted from it's real intention: this is a serious work for serious students.
To conclude it is, above all, exciting and fascinating to have John McLaughlin as your personal virtual guitar teacher in the comfort of your very own home, since only one Jan Maresz has the good fortune to have JM as his personal tutor in the real world. The course that is represented here will offer sufficient material to fill many years of dedication and application for even the most proficient student and I'm sure will come to be the seedbed for courses in educational institutions in the future, long after the great man has departed this mortal coil (Ph.D. in advanced John McLaughlin Guitar, anyone?). He leaves a legacy here of which he can be truly proud and which will enrich any aspiring guitarist's knowledge base.
Visit John McLaughlin on the web.