Author Topic: John McLaughlin  (Read 2698 times)

Woolley Monkey

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John McLaughlin
« on: June 01, 2011, 01:41:50 pm »
He's my favourite guitar player. One of the many reasons I adore Bitches Brew is his stupendous guitar playing thereon, and what's really great is that his comping is as good/interesting as his solos - but then this is indivisible from the musical context, and the fact that he's playing with equally great musicians. He's said that he doesn't regret turing down the offer to join Miles's group in favour of playing with Tony Williams; unfortunately I can't comment on this (maybe somebody else can?) and because I love Miles and McLaughlin with Miles, I'm inclined to think it a shame. So as far as live recordings/performances are concerned, we'll have to make do with Live-Evil (or The Cellar Door Sessions if you have the cash) which in some respects gets more adventurous/far out than Bitches Brew (side note - though the bassist Michael Henderson is perfect for a track like 'What I Say' I'd prefer Dave Holland when things get more out). Here's a sample of the first and only time-period in which McLaughlin played free jazz:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmA4j6mhhbw

Of course I love Shakti. My knowledge of his playing from the early eighties onwards is by no means comprehensive. From what I've heard it's generally of a good standard. Maybe it can sometimes be clinical and run of the mill, but then if you listen to certain tunes which sound as such on Industrial Zen (from 2003 IIRC) then listen to them played a few years later with Chick Corea in the Five Peace Band and they're happening!

Selva Oscura

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Re: John McLaughlin
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2011, 01:55:01 pm »
McLaughlin's contribution to On the Corner is also excellent, and there are some good things on his early solo album Extrapolation (which has Tony Oxley on drums, improbable as that now seems), but when he parted company with Miles his soloing seemed to consist largely of rapid pentatonic scales, a little of which goes a long way with me, particularly in view of the much more angular and intricate playing he did on Cellar Door and particularly "Sivad" from Live-Evil.

If you'd be interested in someone who takes off from and develops some of the character of McLaughlin without the bombast of his later work, check out the young English player Joel Bell if you have a chance. (Martle knows his work too.)

Offline HtoHe

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Re: John McLaughlin
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2011, 02:12:30 pm »
He's on the road again next month though we won't be lucky enough to see him in Liverpool as we did last year - report here, reply no 168:

http://www.r3ok.com/index.php/topic,1320.msg77803.html#msg77803

Still, Ronnie Scott's or even Rotterdam are within reach

http://www.johnmclaughlin.com/news/2011/05/26/europe-tour-dates-july-2011/#more-547


I like most of his work.  If I had to pick a favourite it would probably be Friday Night in San Francisco with Al di Meola and Paco de Lucia.

Thanks for mentioning the name.  I probably woukln't have checked his itinerary otherwise.

Offline martle

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Re: John McLaughlin
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2011, 02:32:59 pm »
check out the young English player Joel Bell if you have a chance. (Martle knows his work too.)

I do. Joel's playing gets more frighteningly sophisticated each time I hear it. He plays fairly regularly with notes inegales, who will be instituting a regular club night later this year in Euston, so if you're within reach of London, Woolley M, watch this space for details...
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Woolley Monkey

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Re: John McLaughlin
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2011, 05:06:18 pm »
McLaughlin's contribution to On the Corner is also excellent, and there are some good things on his early solo album Extrapolation (which has Tony Oxley on drums, improbable as that now seems), but when he parted company with Miles his soloing seemed to consist largely of rapid pentatonic scales, a little of which goes a long way with me, particularly in view of the much more angular and intricate playing he did on Cellar Door and particularly "Sivad" from Live-Evil.

If you'd be interested in someone who takes off from and develops some of the character of McLaughlin without the bombast of his later work, check out the young English player Joel Bell if you have a chance. (Martle knows his work too.)

I agree about On the Corner. I just think it's a shame that he (and also Dave Liebman) only play on the first track. For this reason I hardly ever listen to the other tracks.

Thanks for bringing Joel Bell to my attention. About 18 months ago I gave up classical guitar and any aspirations I harboured of being a 'classical' composer in favour of learning jazz and playing guitar with a pick. I've been woodshedding a great deal and am always interested in hearing contemporary jazz guitarists.

Still, Ronnie Scott's or even Rotterdam are within reach

http://www.johnmclaughlin.com/news/2011/05/26/europe-tour-dates-july-2011/#more-547

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Hopefully I'll be able to make it. I'm unemployed atm and with a bit of help I managed to book a ticket to see the Wayne Shorter Quartet in October. I could probably book a ticket but the issue might be travel (I live in the West Midlands).

(Speaking of Wayne Shorter, McLaughlin's playing is really good and interesting on Supernova.)

Offline Andy D

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Re: John McLaughlin
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2011, 11:48:23 pm »


is a great favourite of mine. Plus his stuff on Bitches Brew.

Offline Wasistlos

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Re: John McLaughlin
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2011, 02:07:57 pm »
I'm also in the McLaughlin-was-great-with-Miles Davis camp - in fact I don't think In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew, Live-Evil, Jack Johnson or On the Corner would really exist (as they do) without McLaughlin's unique influence - the perfect combination of bluesy/rock/avant-garde for what Miles wanted to acheive at that time. I'm less fond of his Mahavishnu Orchestra stuff - undoubtedly virtuosic and lively, but a bit too neat and tidy for my taste...I confess I haven't knowingly heard his work with Lifetime/Tony Willams, something I'll have to rectify soon!

I wonder, though, if McLaughlin might not have been particularly enamoured of the style adopted in these albums with Miles Davis and chose another path instead? Keith Jarrett for one has been rather dismissive of his work with Davis (and he was in the live band for a time) - I can't remember exactly what he said, but the gist of it was that he thought it was just a lot of messing around with electronic instruments and he couldn't wait to get back to making 'real' music on a real piano (hmmm.  ::) ) Personally, though, I think the Davis albums of that period were an incredible melting-pot of all these young talents, who then took what they had brought to (and learned from) the experience in their own several directions - but without Miles leading the way none of what came after would have happened in the way it did.

Offline Ubu-Impudicus

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Re: John McLaughlin
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2011, 06:14:50 pm »

 McLaughlin's musicianship was already well formed by the time he left Britain. Pop sessions in the 60s with people like David Bowie, rhythm & blues with Graham Bond & Georgie Fame, some more ambitious music like Experiments with pop where he joins Gordon Beck & Tony Oxley for a set that sets out (from what I've heard of it) to deconstruct some of the era's psychedelic hits like I can see for miles & Norwegian wood, where his guitar sounds more Indian than George Harrison's sitar, these were all part of his CV by the decade's end. When Jack Bruce came to record his jazz album Things we like, JM must have seemed an obvious choice on guitar, & his solo work there is anything but squeaky clean. The Mahavishnu work & what he did with Miles are history I suppose, & we all have our personal favourites. I'm afraid I only heard a late version of Mahavishnu live, probably on its last legs, with a section of horn players whose main occupation was hitting cow-bells, wood-blocks & other percussive bits.

Offline martle

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Re: John McLaughlin
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2011, 10:53:28 am »
I think the Davis albums of that period were an incredible melting-pot of all these young talents, who then took what they had brought to (and learned from) the experience in their own several directions - but without Miles leading the way none of what came after would have happened in the way it did.

Reminds me of a favourite Miles quote:

''That was my gift...  having the ability to put certain guys together that would create a chemistry and then letting them go; letting them play what they knew, and above it.''
Green. Always green.

Offline burning dog

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Re: John McLaughlin
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2011, 01:30:08 am »
I pretty much agree with Selva on JM. He did fine work with Miles in a variety of contexts. very versatile, from earthy blues of the Jack Johnson period (listen to Duran), etheral playing on In a Silent Way and jagged intricacy on Live Evil, though I don't think he was that significant in the direction of that group, the tracks without him relased later at the Cellar Door are equally good.

Playing with Tony Oxley seems a bit odd now but at the time, along with being in the emerging free form scene, Tony was in Ronnie Scotts house band so in a way Tony was part of the jazz establishment (Was the Gordon Beck trio with Oxley and Jeff Clyne effectively the Scott house band for a while  Ubu? Anyone?.) There are even rumours he was offered the drum chair in the Bill Evans trio. 

 Other albums to seek out, Mountain in the Clouds with Miroslav Vitous, also called Infinite Search. Windmill Tilter - Gil Evans-ish writing  under John Dankworths name but written by Kenny Wheeler  has JM contributions where he is quietly subversive at times, and a fine album, Where Fortune Smiles, more in the free territory, originally under John Surmans name I believe.

Tony Williams Lifetime
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aq3LEC0T3Fw

Duran  -with Miles
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nY5Zp9hIicY

Things We Like
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfvT3ImKdlc

Where Fortune Smiles
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhdY7FW_DSA

Windmill Tilter
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZk3Tui7_CA

 Mountain in the Clouds - This track is atypical if I remember
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80mpfmGnwtA
PS This album is on Spotify as Infinite Search
« Last Edit: July 29, 2011, 01:41:14 am by burning dog »

Offline Ubu-Impudicus

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Re: John McLaughlin
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2011, 03:58:14 pm »

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Solid-Bond-Graham/dp/B001BS4RBS/ref=sr_1_3?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1312382446&sr=1-3

  Particularly the last 3 tracks, which aren't rhythm & blues at all, & feature Bond's "out" alto playing too.
  The question about the trio with Beck, Clyne & Oxley being the house band at Ronnie Scott's in the late 1960s is an interesting one, but I'm afraid I can't answer it in a categorical manner. Oxley was said to be house drummer at the time, & Stan Tracey's tenure expired c.1966; but Tracey's bass & drum chairs shifted, with Rick Laird (later in Mahavishnu orchestra of course) playing bass at 1 point.
 One trend at Ronnie's that grew after the end of Tracey's tenure was the tendency of US guests to bring their own rhythm teams or sometimes big bands. Brits would still have a gig as support acts. Another factor to be taken into account is that once the new Ronnie Scott's club had opened round this time, the lease on the old club had still not expired, & it was used extensively by all the 'new music' people, from Mike Westbrook's band people like Mike Osborne, John Surman, Harry Miller (in addition to others from the South African diaspora), as well as John Stevens & his circle, plus loads of mavericks. It's hard not to imagine Oxley & McLaughlin being involved in this at the expense of 'accompanying' visiting Americans.
 Apologies if I've restated the obvious. I don't have 2 source books at hand- I can't remember of how much value John Fordham's book on the club is (in general I find his journalism pretty low-flying stuff) & a book by Ronnie Scott himself of an autobiographical nature, & only partly about the club Some of my best friends are blues.

Offline burning dog

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Re: John McLaughlin
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2011, 04:34:15 pm »
Thanks UBU I guess the club didn't really have a house band in the late 60s as you say visiting Americans with their regulars and the rival attraction of the Old place would have  altered the scene at that time. Clyne and Oxley seemed to crop up all over the place then - Mainstream, Post Bop,  Free and fusion in the case of Clyne.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2011, 01:23:44 am by burning dog »

Offline Tristan Kord

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Re: John McLaughlin
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2011, 07:36:05 pm »
McLaughlin isn't my favourite guitarist, but he's a great player, and it's impossible for any serious jazz fan not to appreciate his contribution to the genre.
The fusion end of his material isn't really my thing, but i do like some of his stuff.
1994's: After the Rain, with Joey DeFrancesco, and Elvin Jones is more up my street. It swings!  ;D

Woolley Monkey

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Re: John McLaughlin
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2011, 06:08:50 pm »
You might like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cl_pbWA6BbQ

Spot the Coltrane quote, producing some cool altered harmonies.

Offline Tristan Kord

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Re: John McLaughlin
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2011, 08:46:35 pm »
You might like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cl_pbWA6BbQ

Spot the Coltrane quote, producing some cool altered harmonies.

Thanks, that's a great track.
Will have to look out for that album.