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John McLaughlin - Qué alegria CD (album) cover


John McLaughlin


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.89 | 29 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars The title translates (roughly) as "What Happiness", and that certainly describes the pleasure of listening to old pro John McLaughlin and his (mostly) acoustic Jazz trio in action.

This sunny 1991 CD is so relaxed and upbeat you might never suspect it was recorded in late autumn somewhere in southwest Germany. And the all-digital production gives every note a pristine clarity rarely heard outside of an audio demonstration disc: snap on a pair of headphones, close your eyes, and John McLaughlin is playing his Abraham Wechter acoustic guitar right in your living room.

The music sounds like it was performed live in the studio, but with McLaughlin's subtle MIDI effects adding extra depth and dimension to each number. Note what sounds like a slight Hammond organ echo in the bluesy "Baba" and between the nervous rhythms of "Hijacked", and the almost imperceptible ambient background sheen of "Reincarnation" (at twelve minutes long the most ambitious composition here).

And if the music itself has a touch of global awareness to it (Asian, Mediterranean, European classical), the musicians too are likewise world class. The lush sound of Dominique Di Piazza's fretless bass is ideally matched to the exotic percussions played by Bombay drummer Trilok Gurtu: tablas, small bells, and is that a rain stick I hear?

But the backbone of the album is McLaughlin's impeccable guitar technique, as always showing a rare combination of taste, sensitivity, and sometimes frightening speed. The man has produced so much quality music over the years (on his own, in various ensembles, and as a guest player) that it's almost too easy to overlook what has to be one of the brighter gems in his vast discography. But in its own quiet way this is one disc not to be missed.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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