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John McLaughlin - Qué alegria CD (album) cover


John McLaughlin

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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4 stars John McLaughlin Trio continues their well know rock-jazz all along the way, and this album makes no exception. The trio of 4 men presents a fully working album, which is a great addition to everyone's collection, at least if you are into experimental jazz. I might even say this is a must. This was actually the first John McLaughlin cd I ever owned or heard, so I can even suggest this as the first album for you too. It's not a soft start for a common listener because of it's very peculiar time signatures and the progressive touch pulled to the max.

The album begins with Belo Horizonte, which is a great song to give an impression of Mr. McLaughlin's style of playing. The song begins softly and within the 6 and a half minutes it developes into awesome soloplaying by John himself. The theme of the song plays in the background throughout the song with little variation and makes it a solid piece to begin with and still fairly easy to listen to. An excellent song, one of the best on the album.

The second track is a melodic piece, at times even psychedelic with less fast improvisation. One can easily spot a story behind this song. The tune and the theme is very catchy. This is not an original jazz song, in fact it goes more to the psychedelic sde of this genre. But that does not mean it is any worse, on the contrary, I love this song along with the others, though should you prefer the shredding and the fast tempo JMTrio stuff, this might get boring after a while.

The third is a somewhat of an empty song, Reincarnation, with long gentle and peaceful melodies filled with soft guitar every now and then. Not my personal favourite, pretty much like a poor mans version of the second track. Yet the song does have its moments.

Night Stand on the other hand is a very groovy song that doesn't leave anyone cold. It starts quick with a swingy bassline along with the theme played with McLaughlins guitar. In this song the trio leaves room for a great bass solo, which is somewhere in the end of the song. I especially like the Kai Eckhardt-Karpeh's touch on the bass in this one. The shortest song thus far keeps it's grooviness to the end and is absolutely recommended to those who are not so much into jazz either.

Marie, as the tracklisting says, is a bass solo and therefore some might say, thankfully pretty short. Yet this song is of great technical playing and beautiful combinations. And at times the bass shreds as fast as John McLaughlin himself. Dominique Di Piazza is back on this track.

Hijacked is a very fast and very tough one to listen personally I do not find the beginning of this song good at all: it's hard to make any sense of what's happening. Then to the end the song it gets an awesome swing which drops the confusion of the beginning down to half. The end part of this song is John McLaughlin at his best, not to mention the band.

Mila Repa is an odd song. I can't think of any place this would be played in. Only thing you can actually do is to close your eyes for 7 and a half minutes and listen to guitartones played once in two seconds. That is a really slow tempo.

The title song is very beautiful, and again, a powerful jazz song with a great theme. I love this song everytime the theme is played. The song actually has approximately 2 parts, as it changes in the middle to something like a mix of bossa nova and samba. After this the song proceeds with a scat part undescribable with words. Everyone has to hear this. It begins with a count from 1 to 4 and two men beging scatting as a duo while Trilok Gurtu keeps the rythm up with the drums. It's amazing how these guys can scat together without practise. Just shows that they're not only good players with their instrument, they're great musicians altogether.

3 Willows is a soft ending that makes you gently fall asleep after an hour of listening. Hearing this song after some intense listening gives a somewhat euphoric feeling, and one can only love it.

As a whole I'll give this album 4 stars. It's an excellent addition, and should one listen to at least a bit of jazz and progressive rock, this would be something they should hear. But for people who often start comparing themselves to the players and how good they are, I advice to stay far away from this album. It is obvious why these guys are so appreciated. John MacLaughlin knows not only how to play, but also how to compile an album, or a live performance. And the track order here is well thought off and brilliant. 4 stars well deserved.

Report this review (#108415)
Posted Monday, January 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#163848)
Posted Thursday, March 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars An adventurous trip through all kinds of genres, like jazz,blues and classical music (European and Indian), Que Alegria express the happiness of living. McLaughlin brought together with his acoustic guitar an electric bass which gives the touch of Pastorius, playing soft. On Hijacked the blues come to surface. The great skills of Dominique Di Piazza plus the improvisation style of percussions made this song to be a live studio. The MIDI Interface show his power of producing special sounds, with the simplicity of his design. Belo Horizonte came from the album with the same name, from 1981, but in a different version. Reincarnation and Mila Repa are sensible. There are parts where the percussion sound too sharp and abrupt. One exemple is 1 Nite Stand. I believe the guitar must have priority in this format of song, but McLaughlin try an experiment and put this percussions in places where my ears don't want to hear. On the other hand, the bass line is extraordinary! The escapes here are really tasteful, entered in a wished improvisation. The song Que Alegria have three parts: the acoustic guitar part, the alert part, the Indian part and the short final, which is a return to the alert and programming sound from the second part. The parts passing one to each other naturally. From the calm guitar is reached to the Shakti sounds. The last song, named 3 Willows, is chilling, without any element that could say anything except a calm joy with the Heaven dimension. My favorite songs are: Belo Horizonte, Hijacked and Que Alegria.
Report this review (#171789)
Posted Wednesday, May 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Always embracing new toys and technology, this pristine 1991 John McLaughlin recording accomodates many styles and is no doubt enhanced by the employment of a photon multi-interface guitar attachment. With two contrasting bass players, master drummer Trilok Gurtu (who brightens up any recording he shows up on) and with McLaughlin himself sounding energized and rejuvenated here complete with a suave new look on the CD cover with his spy who came out of the cold greatcoat and 5 o'clock shadow shave, this is a treat for fans of this musical chameleon and uninitiated alike.

Flamenco affections seem to be gone from McLaughlin's mind here with East Indian flavours dominating when he's not in more of a straight jazz mode, which is probably why he invited his buddy Trilok Gurtu to provide multitudes of extrinsic rhythms particularily on the second track, Baba, which is an all out Indo-blues rave up. Both bass players are given ample opportunity to solo demostrating their different methodology with Kai Eckhardt coming off with more funky Pastorious inspired affections while Domonique DiPiazza plays in a more straight form but really gets to shine on a unaccompanied bass composition entitled Marie. Both players really add to the overall exhuberance of this suprising McLaughlin work. As in the past, McLaughlin extends himself at times with his new toy especially on the upbeat, funked out 1 Nite Stand and the bluesy Highjacked but at the same time McLaughlin sounds as if he's been using the new stuff for eons.

McLaughlin sounds really fired up up here with valid well defined melodies and while an impression of intimacy hangs over the whole session it is nevertheless spacious and allows itself ample breathing room. The two extended tracks Mila Repa and Reincarnation are prime examples of this of this overall commodious aura. This jewel is without question one of McLaughlin's finest all round recordings both artistically and from a technological standpoint. Also a bit more pleasing and facile for those not familiar with McLaughlinn's restless musical excursions which are always morphing and diverting from album to album and essential listening for long-time aficiados. Superb.

Report this review (#191084)
Posted Sunday, November 30, 2008 | Review Permalink

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