412

John McLaughlin and The Heart of Things: Live In Paris

Walter Kolosky By

Sign in to view read count
John McLaughlin and The Heart of Things: Live In Paris You just knew this band was going to put it all together. This is the Heart of Things album Verve should have released first. Yes, their debut studio effort was good. But in all facets it is humbled by this live recording.

The track list does not suggest much excitement. After all, the only new composition on the album is "Tony", a tribute to the late drummer Tony Williams. "Seven Sisters," "Fallen Angels" and "Acid Jazz" all make a return visit from the debut album. "Mother Tongues," an old JM Trio stalwart, and Gary Thomas' "The Divide" round out the set. Many listeners hoped to hear more new material, such as the kick-ass version of "Jazz Jungle" which the band had performed during their short European tour. But, alas, it's mysteriously absent, along with another featured tune from the tour, "Stella By Starlight." What a bummer.

An actual listen to Live in Paris brings an entirely new appreciation to the music. McLaughlin afficionados have had a long running debate about McLaughlin's use of a ring-modulator to distort his guitar. This reviewer has always been firmly in the "nay" camp. But here, the ring-modulated guitar, used sparingly as it is, is the absolute right choice! A vamp on "Acid Jazz," leading into a blistering show-ending duel with drummer Dennis Chambers, derives its entire character from the ring-modulator.

As usual, Chambers turns in an outstanding performance, and his solo turn on "Tony" is powerful and meaningful music. It is the essence of a heartfelt tribute. Matt Garrison provides the bottom end, and not too few bass flourishes. The bassist is especially up front on "Mother Tongues." Otmaro Ruiz, a welcome addition, takes over for Jim Beard on keyboards and synthesizers. He and McLaughlin engage in a furious call and response passage on "Mother Tongues" that you hope will never end. He also adds a beautiful piano intro to "Tony."

The inclusion of Gary Thomas on sax is an enigma. It's hard to tell if he's an average player or a genius. The confusion is caused by the fact that his playing seems so effortless. But I do really like his playing on this album. The composition he contributes, "The Divide," stands as a dramatic high point that provides fodder for all of the musicians to let loose. Thomas continues moving to the "great" column, album by album. Victor Williams adds his percussion shadings to enhance the overall sound.

There is something about this band that you can't quite put your finger on. The group plays exciting and uplifting music. But at the same time, a dark and brooding undertow runs through it all. While I may not be able to explain it, I sure as hell like it.

And finally, what can you say about JM? To be as fresh and vital as he sounds on this album is a true testament to his lifelong devotion to the music. The compositions are strong. The band is powerful and tight. The crowd adds to the ambiance. Although more new material would have made a difference, this is an outstanding and refreshing high-energy fusion outing from the Heart of Things.

Related link: John McLaughlin Reviews @ All About Jazz .


Track Listing: Seven Sisters; Mother Tongues; Fallen Angels; The Divide; Tony; Acid Jazz

Personnel: John McLaughlin- guitar; Dennis Chambers- drums; Matt Garrison- bass; Gary Thomas- sax; Otmaro Ruiz- keyboards; Victor Williams- percussion

Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Verve Music Group | Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Infinitude" CD/LP/Track Review Infinitude
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 31, 2016
Read "Mujo" CD/LP/Track Review Mujo
by John Sharpe
Published: July 16, 2016
Read "Clockwork" CD/LP/Track Review Clockwork
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 13, 2016
Read "Chapters Of My Life" CD/LP/Track Review Chapters Of My Life
by James Nadal
Published: March 16, 2016
Read "Crowded Solitudes" CD/LP/Track Review Crowded Solitudes
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 6, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!