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Recorded in 1991, Que Alegria features the reinvented John McLaughlin Trio with a new bassist, Dominique DiPiazza. And what a bassist he is! His playing sounds facile and energetic, yet subtle and melodic. DiPiazza's two-minute solo "Marie" is beautifully inspiring and represents one of the highlights of this album.
McLaughlin revisits his classic "Belo Horizonte" and conjures up some more evocative memories with a new acoustic rendition of "Reincarnation". Que Alegria offers some of the strongest music McLaughlin has put out, and its melodies are quite infectious. This is especially true of the lengthy title cut. (Unfortunately, McLaughlin will never get much airplay in America with a ten-minute piece.) DiPiazza also excels on the title cut, an unusual piece where the main theme and melody are assigned solely to the bass. It is an impressive tour de force for DiPiazza, who not long after this record would leave the music business to join a monastery. Recently he has returned to play with Dennis Chambers and Birelli LeGrene.
The dominant themes of Que Alegria can be found in the lushness of its melodies. Whereas its predecessor Live at the Royal Festival Hall was anchored firmly in its rhythms, this album reverses the trend with strong coherent head arrangements and theme-oriented explorations.
“Mila Repa” is the sleeper. It’s a hauntingly beautiful melody traveling along a slow and determined path. Magician percussionist Trilok Gurtu, although less involved than on the previous Trio release, still shines as only he can. The trio’s former fretless bassist, Kai Eckhardt, also effectively contributes to a couple of the cuts.
The clarity of the digital recording adds immensely to the thrill of Que Alegria, one of John McLaughlin’s finest albums.