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John McLaughlin - Extrapolation CD (album) cover


John McLaughlin


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.93 | 72 ratings

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Dick Heath
Special Collaborator
Jazz-Rock Specialist
4 stars This was my second jazz album purchase, (the prog-influential, Dave Brubeck Quartet's 'Carnegie Hall Live Volume 2' being the first), and the more adventurous. The reviews found in Melody Maker at the time, suggested something innovative in British jazz and being played by "free jazz players" - a phrase to intimidate the more timid rock fan then. Being released on the Marmalade Records label also added to this album being different.

Mike Westbrook big band e.g. the two disc 'Marching Songs' (with John Surman also guesting) was my first exposure to new British jazz, but alas something I wasn't ready for. Instead 'Extrapolation' absorbed me and provided a welcomed new breadth to my music, indeed making me ready for jazz rock in the form of Lifetime's 'Turn It Over ' heard for the first time a few months later. 'Extrapolation' is now played on CD 40 years later and sounds as fresh and exciting as it did when I first put that pristine vinyl LP on my record deck.

It is worth remembering in the late 60's a lot of experiment in jazz was happening, not least in the UK. For instance Soft Machine coming from the direction of rock, whilst many progressive musicians (e.g. Keith Emerson) regularly dropped in jazz solos into otherwise rock songs. In the meanwhile those young musicians who had done their jazz apprenticeships in the 60's now decided to incorporate amplification and rock rhythms, e.g. Ian Carr in developing Nucleus. 'Johnny' McLaughlin had first got exposure by appearing on Gordon Beck's 'Experiments With Pop'. Jack Bruce's 'Things We Like' with John McLaughlin, was recorded in 1968, sometime before its release. And a worse example of delayed release was John Surman's 1969 very jazz rock recording 'Way Back When' , sounding quite some distance from the free jazz saxophonist who played with Westbrook and Mike Gibbs. Play 'Extrapolation', 'Way Back When', 'Things We Like', 'Experiments With Pop' and Machine's 'Volume 2' and realise that considerable messing about with jazz was happening in very varied ways at this time.

'Extrapolation' played by a seemingly conventional line-up of electric guitar, sax, double bass and drums, was not musically conventional. You are hit by McLaughlin all stops out, very fast impeccable runs, the slow builders, memorable melodies, exquisite duets by McLaughlin and Surman, backed by an inspiring rhythm section which to my ear were more outward-going than the small handful jazz rhythm sections heard previously. Then the titles got me because they sounded cool: such as 'Argen's Bag', 'Binky's Beam' and by goodness, musically those tunes were cool - 'Extrapolation' was the in-word to drop into conversation too! With the tunes segueing into each other, it was easy to be swept along, only to discover side one of the LP had finished far too quickly.

To summarise: here is sub-40 minutes of entertaining that sounds as new and fresh as it did when 'Extrapolation' was first released.

5 star for a jazz fan, an album worth seeking out for those prog fans who want to sample good jazz for the first time.

Dick Heath | 4/5 |


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