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MCLAUGHLIN AND DE LUCIA DI MEOLA

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Multi-National


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McLaughlin and De Lucia Di Meola biography
Though it would be anything else than a normal collaboration between artists, considering any one of the three musicians (being a normal character of jazz recordings/performances/outlined "gatherings" etc.), it's an event (or just as well a phenomenon) that speaks beyond words, it's interpreted above notes and means much ahead of impressions or symbols. The musicianship of AL DI MEOLA, JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, PACO DE LUCIA (an order which doesn't really count, each one was, at least once, "first up the order") is a most refined example of how great minds think alike and how great souls can play on the same symbolic chord. Without a deep glance, the entire character is appointed upon the collective music effort, slightly upon a mix of style and personality (McLaughlin being a jazz/fusion/(world) artist, Meola being also on the jazz-rock tone, but slightly more titrated and De Lucia being a flamenco jazz artist) and upon the occurrence of great taste. The trio is in its entire eclectic and distinguished.

In 1979, Larry Coryell formed "The Guitar Trio" with jazz fusion guitarist John McLaughlin, and flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia and toured Europe briefly, eventually releasing a video recorded at Royal Albert Hall in London entitled "Meeting of Spirits". In early 1980 Larry was replaced by Al Di Meola, due to drug addiction.. The point of view is obviously focused on the "later" Guitar Trio (not that its prestige would be unfounded as the prime effect, major result, etc.). The essence is the virtuoso talents of all three musicians being equally on display

As far as style is concerned, the combined powers make out of the trio's music a flamenco essence jazz. Besides that, the best to notice aspect is the dazzling virtuosity of guitar play and the eccentric subtlety of jazz interpretation, improvisation and such to think of. Within their last album, there is a piece exploring bossa nova.

Two releases stand as the reflection of their works, within the 80s. Friday Night in San Francisco , of 1981, is a best-seller, a fabulous performance, a most accomplished recognition and a fantastic masterpiece. Passion, Grace and Fire is what followed up in 1983, being a studio-recording only. After this 13 years of silence and of inactivity made out of the trio a select thing. The Guitar Trio, of 1996, is the reunion release and the last reference till present time.

"The Guitar Trio" are, by best regards, a legendary act and a completely founded recomm...
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MCLAUGHLIN AND DE LUCIA DI MEOLA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.91 | 14 ratings
Passion, Grace & Fire
1983
3.83 | 19 ratings
The Guitar Trio
1996

MCLAUGHLIN AND DE LUCIA DI MEOLA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.08 | 76 ratings
Friday Night In San Francisco
1981

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MCLAUGHLIN AND DE LUCIA DI MEOLA Reviews


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 Friday Night In San Francisco by DI MEOLA, MCLAUGHLIN AND DE LUCIA album cover Live, 1981
4.08 | 76 ratings

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Friday Night In San Francisco
McLaughlin and De Lucia Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars The genesis of the Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin & Paco De Luci­a trio finds its seeds at The Guitar Trio formed by jazz guitarist Larry Coryell in 1979,including Mahavishnu Orchestra mastermind John McLaughlin and flamenco guitarist Paco De Lucia.The Guitar Trio toured in Europe and recorded the ''Meeting of the spirits'' video in London,but soon Corryel was replaced by Return to Forever guitarist Al Di Meola due to his drug addiction.As with the original Guitar Trio Di Meola,McLaughlin and De Lucia toured extensively and recorded their live performance ''Friday Night in San Francisco'' at the Warfield Theatre on 5 December 1980.

The album is a great guide to all guitar students around the world,offering a beautiful mix of Flamenco and Jazz in an unplugged performance.The compositions are semi-structured alternating between smooth interplays,long solos and flamenco-tinged grooves.Technically speaking the album is on the highest level with the three virtuosos delivering the best out of their armour,sometimes on gentle passages,others on intensive and dramatic improvisation.Good thing is that the total absence of any other instrument will not affect the richness of the sound.On the other hand what is really missing from this album ,in my opinion,is the optical view.A video footage would be trully a better release and would easily capture all the atmosphere of this creative night in all its spectrum.The sound alone is a good document,but lacks in depth of an atmospheric view.

I wouldn't call this album essential.''Friday Night in San Francisco'' is a must-have for all the young guitar wannabee-heros and a good addition for anyone searching for a relaxed flamenco-based musicianship in a specific mood.Still recommended.

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 Friday Night In San Francisco by DI MEOLA, MCLAUGHLIN AND DE LUCIA album cover Live, 1981
4.08 | 76 ratings

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Friday Night In San Francisco
McLaughlin and De Lucia Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by The Dark Elf

4 stars Full article first published at blogcritics. org

Live albums are such fragile things, aren't they? I mean, under the performer's swagger, the stacks of Marshalls, and even the sometimes egregious overdubbing to mask imperfections and gaffes, very often one is left with inferior product, or at least not comparable to the original slick studio versions of the songs presented. That is why there are very few truly great live albums.

Most live recordings are of the throwaway variety: substandard greatest hits packages vomited up in order to appease record companies in lieu of actual studio content; or a means of promotional self-aggrandizement by performers (and once again, in lieu of actual studio recordings); or pirated concert recordings which appear in profusion on YouTube that are, of course, a chance to see a favorite band or performer play live when there is a dearth of anything that is new or of any consequence, musically speaking. Some performers have one great live album in them (such as Deep Purple's 'Made in Japan' or The Who's 'Live at Leeds'), some manage more than one (Johnny Cash's landmarks 'Live at Fulsom Prison' and 'Live at San Quentin', for instance), while others are all over the place, running from bathetic to brilliant (numerous offerings from Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison, Frank Zappa, etc.). But it is indeed a rare occurrence for live material to rise above the studio work from whence it was culled.

But first, let's talk about jazz.

I know, I know ? you're saying to yourself, what's this old rock dog doing venturing out of his element? Putting on airs, is he, Lovey? Well, you may find it disconcerting, but I have many jazz recordings: from Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton, to Dave Brubeck and Charlie Parker, to Return to Forever and Weather Report. And there are certainly many stellar live jazz recordings (Miles Davis' 'Live-Evil', Charlie Parker's 'Live at Birdland', and 'Ellington at Newport 1956', to name but a few). However, in this review I am going to be a bit selfish.

The album I am reviewing, 'Friday Night in San Francisco' (1980) with Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin, and Paco DeLucia, is an essential live recording ? for guitarists. Now, I don't care about the abysmal listening habits of the far vaster society-at-large (a public that is agog over Lady Gaga is suspect in any case); but this definitive demonstration of flamenco- laden guitar jazz ? with no backing band, superfluous horns, or vocals ? is revelatory, and particularly for those thousands of regular Joes (and Janes ? we needn't be discriminatory) who have ever picked up a guitar and dreamed. But if one worries about demographic accessibility, radio-friendliness and droning songs with three or four chord structures, then why in the hell are you listening to jazz in the first place? Or, in any case, why are you reading this review? Stick with Devo, Television, Poison, or whatever drek you swore by in the 1980s. But I digress.

As a longtime guitarist and bar-band blues bludgeoner, all I can tell you is that I am in awe of the technical ferocity, incredible dexterity, and concordant reciprocity by which these three musicians blend and bend. And to make this album all the more intriguing, these virtuoso guitarists are not shredding the old-fashioned way, with the ubiquitous and almost obligatory Stratocaster or Les Paul; on the contrary, they are frying the frets of acoustic guitars! This "unplugged" concert predates the staged versions on MTV by nearly a decade, and Friday Night certainly eclipses anything from that overrated, overblown series, save perhaps the outstanding performance by Eric Clapton. But alas, poor Eric! For all his vaunted "Slowhand" moves, he couldn't keep up with these three players with a vast quantity of anabolic steroids and an eight ball of coke.

The stunning interplay between de Lucia, DiMeola and McLaughlin alone is worth a studied listen. Paco de Lucia is one of the finest flamenco guitarists in the world, Al DiMeola's first major band was the legendary Return to Forever (his first band? He was only 21!), and John McLaughlin is himself a legend, having played on Miles Davis' masterpiece 'Bitches Brew', as leader of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and also duetting rock fusion with Carlos Santana. It doesn't get much better. No, it doesn't get any better at all.

But it is not merely the technical excellence and gaudy displays of frenzied fretwork that sets this album apart; the subtle nuance, ever-changing tone and timbre, and the synchronicity of the trio is breathtaking in its scope and impassioned delivery. As I alluded to previously, the premise of this review (besides my selfishness) is to present a live album wherein the concert performances exceed the studio versions of the songs. Nowhere is this more evident than on "Mediterranean Sundance/Rio Ancho", originally from DiMeola's Elegant Gypsy solo album. The version on Elegant Gypsy is certainly a worthwhile listen, but it is staid and conservative in comparison to that found on 'Friday Night in San Francisco'. "Sundance" becomes a mad waltz of a myriad crickets: first one, then two, then a whole ball, swarming, then swirling, then parting in a preternatural line dance beneath the warm summer breezes drifting languidly in from the aqua sea. For Al DiMeola and Paco DeLucia, it is a battle of pick versus pluck, as jazz fusion meets flamenco guitar method, and the variation in styles gives a nice counterpoint between older and newer forms (not to mention more scales than on Godzilla's bare behind).

Yet this is no sterile exercise in emotionless expertise, the enthusiastic audience is heavily involved throughout, hooting and hollering in delight, adding to the magic of the night. Also, there are dashes of humor intermingled with the good-natured one-upmanship, such as when DiMeola and McLaughlin take a whimsical detour in Chick Corea's composition "Black Forest" that leads them to play parts of the "Pink Panther" theme and some raunchy 12 bar blues. Further highlights include a spirited duet by McLaughlin and DeLucia on Brazilian composer Egberto Gismonti's "Frevo Rasgado", and DiMeola's "Fantasy Suite", a grand finale in which all three guitarists shoot out the lights and trade finger-blurring volleys. Oh yes, and if that weren't enough to have you fretting with plectrum envy, there is a studio recording of the haunting "Guardian Angel" which was a precursor to 'Passion, Grace and Fire', the album that followed their live tour.

I am aware that the term "masterpiece" is thrown about with nauseating regularity in these degenerate days when karaoke cover versions of hit songs sung by members of Glee seemingly hit number one on the Billboard charts every other week, but the improvisational brilliance of Friday Night in San Francisco is a transcendent experience. At least, for this 'umble guitarist.

Four and a half stars, because it is not a progressive rock album (and based on prog- archives criteria, not germane to the general discussion), Five stars for jazz content and virtuousity.

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 Friday Night In San Francisco by DI MEOLA, MCLAUGHLIN AND DE LUCIA album cover Live, 1981
4.08 | 76 ratings

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Friday Night In San Francisco
McLaughlin and De Lucia Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by fant0mas

4 stars If you want non-stop speed that pumps you full of adrenaline but drowns out most nuances then this is the one. The track that gets most people to buy this album is the first one where Al outdoes even his own fastest playing and takes it to a level of blur that's, frankly, astounding. However, none of the tracks here are as effective, in an overall sense, as "Orient Blue Suite" on their studio record or Al and Paco's studio version of "Mediteranean Sundance" on "Elegant Gypsy," which doesn't turn into "Rio Ancho." A few more records that top this in terms of overall wear factor: Paco's record with his sextet "Live, One Summer Night"--a mindblower that perfectly balances nuances with extreme virtuosity, if you can get used to the wild gypsy singing. Mclaughlin's "Live at Royal Festival Hall" with his unbelievably telepathic trio, if you like a jazzier, more progressive, rhythm driven acoustic sound. And Larry Coryell's magnificent "Bolero" record which features a cornucopia of styles from classical improvisations to flamenco barnstormers to funkified country rock, all played with maximum sophistication and attention to nuance.

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 Friday Night In San Francisco by DI MEOLA, MCLAUGHLIN AND DE LUCIA album cover Live, 1981
4.08 | 76 ratings

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Friday Night In San Francisco
McLaughlin and De Lucia Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I'm not going to say too much about this live album as it is a rather popular one. This is an all acoustic album recorded in San Fransisco in December of 1980, years before MTV came out with their "Unplugged" series. I don't think any act has topped this when it comes to live acoustic music.

McLaughlin, Di Meola and De Lucia are all virtuoso's in their own rights, and putting them together does actually work which is why this became so popular. As i've said emphatically before I really detest the idea of no electric instruments, but having no bass, drums or keyboards really does make this recording pretty one dimensional in my opinion. This is all a matter of taste of course. There are many great moments here, but for me I can't offer up that fourth star. The crowd that was there that night would definitely disagree with me.

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 The Guitar Trio by DI MEOLA, MCLAUGHLIN AND DE LUCIA album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.83 | 19 ratings

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The Guitar Trio
McLaughlin and De Lucia Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars If you ever listened "Friday Night In San Francisco" you will realize that there are same musicians from the very fisrt sounds. I was very impressed again after I started this Cd. My good impression even grow up after first and second compositions. What a delight, triple acoustic guitars mixed sound!

I even didn't realize at what moment it became .... boring. Yes , everything is better than OK, but... slowly you understand, that you heard this yet, ... that you heard this more than once... that , in fact, you are listening one endless composition, and this composition even isn't bright enough!

You should be a heavy fan of acoustic guitar sound just to enjoy this long repeating strings vibrations. Please understand me right, the music is very professional, of high technical level, so you should be happy with that. But I just think, that once found original and extremely sucsessful "triple acoustic guitars" formula was intereted in "Friday Night...", used once again in second Trio release, and now, after so many years sounds more as cliche or clone.

I think the only right decision should be one excelent Trio album (the first one, of course). The third one is just shadow, copy of the Original. Some fresh ideas will be realy helpfull on it, but-sorry, you can find only old music, tested by time, but more useful for Hall of Fame, than for regular repeating.

I think, if you never heard about DiMeola-McLaughlin-DeLucia trio, and will start by accident from yhis album, you will be enjoyed by it's music and sound. But in that case both other albums will sound as it's copies for you, and vice versa.

If you are just at the beginning, really just start from "Friday Night In San Francisco". I think, you will find some new music for you, but just finish where you started. For acoustic Latin guitar sound maniacs my recomendation is useless :)

P.S. If you are not familiar with Trio music, please not, that it isn't prog at all: Latin acoustic guitar sound, sometimes fusion or Latin jazz, but -never prog.

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 Friday Night In San Francisco by DI MEOLA, MCLAUGHLIN AND DE LUCIA album cover Live, 1981
4.08 | 76 ratings

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Friday Night In San Francisco
McLaughlin and De Lucia Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by nikow

5 stars This is one of those magical albums where everything just falls in place and the whole is more than the sum of its parts. It's not flawless, I'll admit that, but it's one of the best live albums I've ever heard.

The interplay between Di Meola, DeLucia and McLaughlin is unearthly, not to even talk about their skills, which are phenomenal. Basically this album is just a show of their technical skills on acoustic guitar, but it's also very sympatethic as well. The part where they improvise and start to play the tune of the Pink Panther is priceless and brings a little humour and humanity to the otherwise quite technical album.

I wouldn't recommend to this to people who in general don't like showing off just for the sake of it. As for me, I like to hear some great technical playing now and then and there's just something magical on this one which I cannot quite grasp with words.

5 stars!

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 The Guitar Trio by DI MEOLA, MCLAUGHLIN AND DE LUCIA album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.83 | 19 ratings

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The Guitar Trio
McLaughlin and De Lucia Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Vibrationbaby

5 stars The most appealing and diverse of the De Lucia / Di Meola / McLaughlin acoustic guitar trio projects ( including the live Friday Night In San Fransisco album). Guitar freaks, jazz afficionados and the layman alike will glean something from this one as the masters bring their guitar trio concept to a focal point. There`s less showboating and overextending here and more emphasis on solid composing except for a few McLaughlin freakouts ( He just couldn`t resist ).

All three players don`t always appear together, most notably on the bossa-nova rave up Manha De Carnival which only features Di Meola and Mc Laughlin and the magnificent Azzura where Dimeola becomes a one man guitar trio also adding percussives. Oddly, De lucia ( the only player here who has never touched an electric guitar in his life ) remains relatively restrained even on his own Spanish / Brazilian pieces, Espirito and flamenco album opener La Estiba. As can be expected, McLaughlin`s contributions are drenched in East Indian influences and this is most evident on Midsummer`s Night with it`s exquisite intro and the obvious Letter To India. Dimeola seems to have a middle east fascination on his pieces as evidenced on Beyond The Mirage.

Along with Larry Coryell ( who was an early collaborator ) these three masters set tnew standards for this guitar configuration and this impeccably produced set is just as effective as background music or straight in your face guitar mastery. Technically daunting, these recordings are uncannily accessible and there is something new to be discovered with each listen. Guitar virtuosity at it`s zenith. If these guys re-unite for another similar project it is beyond me how they could top this jewel.

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 Friday Night In San Francisco by DI MEOLA, MCLAUGHLIN AND DE LUCIA album cover Live, 1981
4.08 | 76 ratings

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Friday Night In San Francisco
McLaughlin and De Lucia Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars This album consists of only four tracks recorded live plus one studio recording. The complete running time is just over 40 minutes. The whole album is all acoustic and all instrumental with only the three guitarists on stage. That means no bass guitar, no drums, no keyboards and no percussion. From this it should be relatively clear that this is a guitar album and not by any means a Prog album. The three guitarists play extremely well, and these performances are very good and slightly different from their studio counterparts, but not better than them.

Short Tales Of The Black Forrest, Mediterranean Sundance and the Fantasia Suite are all excellent compositions taken from Al Di Meola's three first solo albums. The performances here are all very competent and lively, but I much prefer the studio versions of all of these numbers. It is also the case that these pieces are much more interesting within the context of the electric and more progressive songs of those albums. The two tracks that I had not heard before, Frevo Rasgado and Guardian Angel are nice too, but certainly not up to par with the other three.

Friday Night In San Francisco is a very good acoustic guitar album that I enjoy a lot when I'm in the right mood for it. However, I can only recommend this album to fans of Al Di Meola and the other two guitarists. For the average Prog fan I recommend instead that you get the three albums, Land Of Midnight Sun, Elegant Gypsy and Casino. On these three studio albums you will find better versions of these numbers embedded in a much more progressive and exciting setting. Therefore only two (and a half) stars from me.

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 Friday Night In San Francisco by DI MEOLA, MCLAUGHLIN AND DE LUCIA album cover Live, 1981
4.08 | 76 ratings

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Friday Night In San Francisco
McLaughlin and De Lucia Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Garion81
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Sometimes the stars align just right things just come together like they were supposed to. This album is one of those times. I imagine myself sitting in the audience and with my eyes closed try and figure out who is playing what but I just get moved by the beauty these three masters evoke. In the end it doesn't matter who plays what because it is just so fantastic. Tremendous lines of melody come cascading down a waterfall of virtuosic playing now in flamenco, now in jazz and now in blues, to wash over you sometimes in torrents sometimes in droplets and sometimes in just a mist. Sometimes serious and sometimes in jest these guys run the whole gauntlet in just 41 minutes.

This is pure pleasure for me. I take this one out several times a year to just bask in its brilliance. My only complaint is it is too short. I wish they would add some bonus to track to the 6 releases but that is a minor complaint. This is like watching a bullfight with the speed of a motocross event. One of the few albums that really leaves me searching for adjectives and superlatives to woefully try and describe it. If you are a prog fan or fan of any technically challenging music you have to like this. If you don't then you must be dead. Without a shadow of doubt 5 stars.

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 Friday Night In San Francisco by DI MEOLA, MCLAUGHLIN AND DE LUCIA album cover Live, 1981
4.08 | 76 ratings

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Friday Night In San Francisco
McLaughlin and De Lucia Di Meola Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by tuxon

4 stars If you enjoy loads and loads of accoustic guitars, than this is the album to get. A fabulous mixture of Spanish Flamengo, jazz, some blues, and other styles. The interplay between the players is so good that despite the technicality of their music the soul (which is the core of all music) of the compositions remain very much in tact. The pace of the music constantly fluctuates which provides a constant anticipation of what's to come. For those not knowing any of the three players, the music can be described (IMO) as a combination of Steve Howe's best accoustic works (Clap, Mood for a Day), but than in longer compositions. But I guess most of us do know Paco, All and John well enough to know that this link to Steve doesn't really does them justice as it is much more. Anyway, this is a great album, and guitar freaks should get their hands on it.

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