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Another side to a versatile guitarist

Mc Laughlin, many-sided genius and pioneer of jazz fusion, plays with various artistes, giving you 80 minutes of delight

John McLaughlin: Live in Paris
Universal Music
Rs 125

Remember Remember Shakti, the double album I reviewed some months ago? That was a good example of John McLaughlin's work blending well with Indian musicians. Here we have another side to this electric guitarist's many-sided genius: he's interacting with jazz musicians in a setting that's mostly mainstream jazz with jazz-rock touches thrown in.

To the rock elements first. Dennis Chambers's drums as well as the theme of Mother Tongues have a distinctly jazz-rock sound to them. On most of the rest of the album Chambers is quiet, using jazz rhythms and techniques. The last number, Acid Jazz, is most overtly rock-influenced in its sound, with electronic gimmicks on the guitar and keyboards.

The fidelity to mainstream jazz of guitar, keyboards, drums and bass on the rest of the album is further enhanced by the work of Gary Thomas on tenor and soprano saxophones. Even on Mother tongues, for example, there are rapid-fire solos in turn from guitar, tenor sax, bass, keyboards, and percussion in the middle section, sandwiched between slower passages at the beginning and the end. This is not just mainstream jazz, it's close to be-bop.

There's no scarcity of slow and quiet build-ups to a fast tempo with plenty of fireworks on the album. On Tony, for example, the build-up climaxes in a drum-percussion duo. There's plenty of variation of the choice of soloists, making for a range of sound textures. Fallen angels, for instance, is completely dominated by the tenor sax. There's also lots of space for solos, with the six numbers on the album taking up nearly 80 minutes of time. Change that to 80 minutes of delight.


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