Roger Scruton on Fakery in Art
Christmas Wars

52 Guitars: Week 50

John McLaughlin

McLaughlin is very well known in jazz circles, but I've never really listened to him very much. I heard him back in 1970 or so when he appeared on Miles Davis's Bitches Brew, which I did not really get then and still don't, although it's considered a masterpiece by many. 

But as with a couple of other people I've posted about in this series, my interest in McLaughlin was piqued by his appearance on one of the Crossroads Festival DVDs. I thought this was dull at first hearing, despite the virtuosity, but it grew on me. "Maharina": 


McLaughlin is probably most widely known for his 1970s work in the Mahavishnu Orchestra. As with Bitches Brew, I didn't care much for what I heard of them at the time. I remember finding it almost shocking, because I had for some reason expected a serene meditative sound, but it was fiery. Eight or ten years ago, in a period of re-considering progressive rock and other types of music that I hadn't cared for at the time, I heard the M.O.'s Inner Mounting Flame and really liked it. It's generally classified as jazz-rock fusion, and unlike much of that genre really merits that description. This is the first track, "Meeting of the Spirits": 


About twenty years ago McLaughlin had a trio of which the other two members were Joey De Francesco on organ and Elvin Jones on drums. Appropriately for the presence of Jones, the drummer on many of John Coltrane's greatest recordings, they released a CD which included several compositions either by Coltrane or forever associated with him, including "My Favorite Things." I don't see the album track on YouTube, but here's a live performance of it, not without flaws--the guitar actually sounds out of tune in places, though I think that may be due to a slightly misused or badly-adjusted chorus effect--but still worth hearing. The drummer here is not Jones, however.




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Great artist.
As Jeff Beck opined, "he's the greatest living guitarist".
Loved that he experimented with so many disparate musicians; Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Jaco Pastorius, etc.
Jaco recorded "Continuum" with McLaughlin's, Trio Of Doom. Sweetness.
One can only hope that young musicians are influenced by his technical expertise.

Coincidentally, I was listening to Jeff Beck (Live at Ronnie Scott's) on the way to work this morning. He's pretty fair himself.:-)

I didn't know JM played with Hendrix. Nothing recorded, I suppose?

Never recorded with Hendrix. He did jam with him:

Cute bass player playing with Jeff Beck at Ronnie Scott's.

Fascinating. Thank you.

The cute bass player is a prodigy named Tal Wilkenfeld (not sure about that spelling). I know she looks about 14 but I think she was actually 19 or 20 here. That's a great album/concert, btw. Jeff is really the greatest of the rock-based electric guitarists.

That drummer appears to be the same guy playing with J McL in the Crossroads clip.

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