Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

411

John McLaughlin and The Free Spirits: Tokyo Live

Walter Kolosky By

Sign in to view read count
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

Title: Tokyo Live | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Verve Music Group

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Bound CD/LP/Track Review Not Bound
by Don Phipps
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House CD/LP/Track Review Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Journey to a New World CD/LP/Track Review Journey to a New World
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 21, 2018
Read "Unfiltered Universe" CD/LP/Track Review Unfiltered Universe
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 29, 2017
Read "Möbius Strip" CD/LP/Track Review Möbius Strip
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 11, 2017
Read "Aural Vertigo" CD/LP/Track Review Aural Vertigo
by Daniel Barbiero
Published: July 9, 2017
Read "Blue Fantasia" CD/LP/Track Review Blue Fantasia
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 25, 2017
Read "Alaya" CD/LP/Track Review Alaya
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 9, 2017
Read "Love Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017