John Mclaughlin has been playing a few 1971-75 Mahavishnu pieces in concert over the past couple of years, having very largely not done so since the early 80s. I thought he’d only composed/released one new piece in what one might call ‘Mahavishnu style’ since then, though (‘Echoes From Then’ – the clue being in the title), but I must have missed this one from ‘Black Light’ in 2015: ‘Being You Being Me’. In this performance from this week, at least (I haven’t heard the 2015 recording), it nods to classic 70s pieces including ‘Lotus Feet’, ‘Guardian Angel’ and ‘Lila’s Dance’. Bliss…
I’ve been listening to Miles Davis’s Aura, released towards the end of his career. It is a suite of tone poems written for a large horn ensemble (and harp) by the Danish composer, Palle Mikkelborg. The pieces are all named after colours. I’m especially fond of Green, a duet with Denmark’s greatest bassist, Niels-Henning Pederson. It is gentle, soothing music on the whole with a bit of John McLaughlin thrown in.
The opening track, called Intro, starts quietly enough, but soon becomes a battle between John and Miles to make the loudest noise. It is nothing like the rest of the album. If you just heard Intro, you would have completely the wrong idea about the mood and style of the whole. It’s a shame because Aura is a very fine album, albeit somewhat long at over an hour. The sensible thing to do is to skip Intro.
Can The Afterword think of any other examples?
Danial Peter, a guitar buff with a very clear presenting style, has recently posted this fascinating breakdown of what John McLaughlin actually plays in the side-long epic ‘Right Off’, on Miles Davis’ ‘A Tribute To Jack Johnson’ (1971).
Famously, the track began as an informal jam between John and the two other musicians on bass and drums, with Miles rushing in from the control room when he heard it. (Later in the track, Herbie Hancock, who had literally wandered in to say hi, on his his way past the studio with a bag of groceries in his hands, was motioned over to an unfamiliar keyboard by Miles and ends up playing on the track there and then.)
I play a bit of guitar – no great theory expert, all bluff and instinct, really – but Daniel’s revelation that John is really only playing a Bb7 is fascinating to me. Being John McLaughlin he, of course, stretches and inverts the living daylights out of that chord, making it sound to the fairly casual listener like an armoury of chords. Clever and yet, in a way, simple stuff. The performance was all about the groove – keeping it moving, with an » Continue Reading.
Here’s a nice snapshot of a week in December at New York’s Blue Note for Chick Corea’s 75th birthday, with John McLaughlin. Gail Moran, from MO Mk2, can also be glimpsed. John teases the audiences about ‘wrong notes’. I refuse to believe him!
Here’s John McL live in 2016 with Santana, guesting on three numbers with an exotic looking axe, which – I feel sure – Johnny C can tell us all about. The tracks he appears on are:
A Place With No Name Creation Awade
From around 37:00 – 53.00, with splrendid soloing therein.
‘And so, over to the Graham Bond Organisation, the wildest both musically and in appearance… behind the drums sits Ginger Baker, looking like a Francis Bacon portrait in 3D… and Mr Bond himself, a Balzac in dark glasses…’
Thus said Steve Race, a somewhat po-faced man in the 1960s BBC, introducing Graham, Ginger, Mike Falana and Dick Heckstall-Smith, the 1966 incarnation of Graham’s various legendary 60s bands, on ‘Jazz Beat’ at the Playhouse Theatre.
Three years earlier, as the delightfully looser George Melly declared to an unsuspecting pipe and slippers listenership on the same station, introducing an earlier gang with the dsame Hammond-toting leader: ‘Good evening – ‘Jazz Club’, and not a banjo in sight, but of course it’s been a hard winter…’
And so began a bit of history in the making: the onslaught of R&B on the British jazz world. The three Bond Quartet sessions from 1963 (Bond, Bruce, Baker, McLaughlin) are striking in still being somewhere between jazz and R&B – Jack Bruce still playing double bass, McLaughlin’s guitar definitely more jazz than blues, the repertoire more Ray Charles than Muddy Waters. But it was the still the forefront of a big change.
Trad clubs up » Continue Reading.
This fascinating film has just been posted on youtube. It’s 9 mins or so documenting a Sri Chinmoy parade and concert in New York – on March 8 1975 (the November 75 attribution is incorrect: McLaughlin had moved on from Chinmoy by then).
A rare opportunity to see Mahavishnu & Devadip doing their thing on the back of a float and, from 4:50 on, a rare opportunity to hear the singing voice of the Mahavishnu.