411

John McLaughlin and The Free Spirits: Tokyo Live

Walter Kolosky By

Sign in to view read count
John McLaughlin and The Free Spirits: Tokyo Live Ever since 1985, John McLaughlin had not put out a record featuring electric guitar. Tokyo Live, released almost ten years later, showed the music world once again how the guitarist could reinvent himself. This time the new McLaughlin appears in the form of The Free Spirits, a B-3 based jazz-blues trio featuring McLaughlin on a Johnnie Smith electric guitar, organist Joey DeFrancesco, and powerhouse drummer Dennis Chambers. The ailing McLaughlin was recorded on two different nights at the Tokyo Blue Note. He had recently suffered a back injury while playing with his dog on the beach, and apparently it hampered his playing quite a bit on stage. But you'd never know it.

This record will disappoint those hoping for a 1990's version of the Tony Williams Lifetime. Listeners hoping to hear a wailing, plaintiff, distorted guitar will be upset as well. McLaughlin's bluesy tone is somewhat warm and processed, and it's sometimes easily lost in the cascades of a busy B-3 barrage. But, the guitar chops remain vintage McLaughlin. He plays through and around and underneath the changes, intertwining his unison lines with DeFrancesco so cleverly that you have to work a bit to distinguish the two. (Although his unison playing is always impressive, McLaughlin's tone on this recording makes this a drawback.) His empathy with the supercharged Chambers is evident from the very first beat.

Tokyo Live offers several top-notch McLaughlin compositions, most notably "Vukovar," which make for an exciting and pleasing outing. Although the slow-moving duet "When Love is Far Away "—featuring McLaughlin on guitar and DeFrancesco on trumpet—drags this album down a bit, the overall nightclub feel and musical energy still carry the day.

Although this remains the only true Free Spirits album released to date, the band did not reach its creative peak until its brilliant performance on the cut "Thelodius Melodius" from the 1996 recording The Promise.

Related link: John McLaughlin Reviews @ All About Jazz .

Track Listing: 1 Nite Stand; Hijacked; When Love is Far Away; Little Miss Valley; JuJu at the Crossroads; Vukovar; No Blues; Mattinale

Personnel: John McLaughlin- guitar; Dennis Chambers- drums; Joey DeFrancesco- B-3 organ and trumpet

Year Released: 1993 | Record Label: Verve Music Group | Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


Shop

More Articles

Read United CD/LP/Track Review United
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 23, 2017
Read Chromola CD/LP/Track Review Chromola
by John Eyles
Published: March 23, 2017
Read Satin Doll – A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn CD/LP/Track Review Satin Doll – A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 23, 2017
Read Nature City CD/LP/Track Review Nature City
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 23, 2017
Read Beninghove's Hangmen Plays Led Zeppelin CD/LP/Track Review Beninghove's Hangmen Plays Led Zeppelin
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 23, 2017
Read This Is The Uplifting Part CD/LP/Track Review This Is The Uplifting Part
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 22, 2017
Read "Old Door Phantoms" CD/LP/Track Review Old Door Phantoms
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 5, 2016
Read "Chance Meeting" CD/LP/Track Review Chance Meeting
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 28, 2016
Read "Bandit 65" CD/LP/Track Review Bandit 65
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 13, 2017
Read "Meeting At The Parting Place" CD/LP/Track Review Meeting At The Parting Place
by Dave Wayne
Published: October 1, 2016
Read "Skyjack" CD/LP/Track Review Skyjack
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 24, 2016
Read "America's National Parks" CD/LP/Track Review America's National Parks
by Troy Collins
Published: October 20, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: DOT TIME RECORDS | BUT 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!