June 14, 2007

Jazz For You : John McLaughlin

Few tasks are more daunting than picking just ten of a great jazz artist's albums for a library collection. Each record adds in its own way to the appreciation of any artist. But in the case of guitarist John McLaughlin , choosing representative albums is made an even more difficult chore because so many of his records run at odd angles to each other. He seems to change styles so often that just keeping track can be a daunting task.This set of records spans thirty years and a huge variety of approaches. It's a fine place to start if you're curious about McLaughlin's many angles on improvised music.

1969 John McLaughlin, Extrapolation (Polydor 841598)

The guitarist's first efforts as a leader led to a classic recording which showcased the musician's European jazz roots in a modern jazz vein.

1970 Miles Davis, A Tribute To Jack Johnson (Columbia CK-47036)

McLaughlin exploded onto the jazz scene with his ferocious playing on Miles Davis' 1970 record. The Jazz-blues-funk power chords McLaughlin unleashes on this recording still deserve attention.

1970 John McLaughlin, My Goal's Beyond (Knitting Factory 3010)

It's hard to believe the same man that blew the fuses on Davis' album quieted down and produced the truly remarkable acoustic My Goal's Beyond.

1971 Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Inner Mounting Flame (Columbia/Legacy 65523)

The Mahavishnu Orchestra came next with its debut album, The Inner Mounting Flame, which rocked both the jazz and popular music worlds. This was McLaughlin's true coming out party.

1976 Shakti with John McLaughlin, Shakti (Sony International 9178)

Shakti introduced yet another John McLaughlin, a musician who had immersed himself into Indian music. This record presented a hybrid of jazz and far eastern modes that literally helped introduce the world music movement.

1978 John McLaughlin, Electric Guitarist (Columbia 46110)

This record is noteworthy for the disparate styles and guest stars it featured.

1981 John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola, Paco DeLucia, Friday Night in San Francisco (Sony 65168)

The guitar trio's debut record was a live performance which revolutionized the way the acoustic guitar is viewed in the pop world. Its influence is still felt today.

1994 John McLaughlin, After the Rain (Verve 527467)

This organ trio with Joey DeFrancesco and Elvin Jones offered a significant showcase for McLaughlin to perform in a more straightahead jazz format. Many of these tunes are Coltrane compositions.

2000 John McLaughlin and The Heart of Things, Live In Paris (Verve 314 543 536-2)

The Heart of Things showed the world that fusion music could still be exciting, and that Mr. McLaughlin was still its King.

2001 Remember Shakti, Saturday Night in Bombay (Verve 014164)

Coming almost full circle, this Remember Shakti album references the excitement of the Guitar Trio from 20 years earlier, as well as McLaughlin's approach to world music and jazz. It exemplifies how the guitarist continues to strive to incorporate all of his musical knowledge into a fresh outlook.

Taken From All About Jazz : Building Your Jazz Library

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