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John McLaughlin - Extrapolation CD (album) cover


John McLaughlin

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

As this album predates McLaughlin's collaborations with miles Davis, do not expect that much of a jazz-rock album. Even if there are many promises in such an album such as John's collaboration with his long-time friend and saxman Surman, and there are a few hints of his future powerhouse of guitar playing both in harshness, virtuoso and lightning speed, this album is actually reserved for real McLaughlin fans only unless a confirmed jazzman.

Although John was "toying" around with rock musicians for a couple years, John's first real solo album (to my knowledge was a definitely and resolutely jazz album. While some tracks (the title track, the Coltrane-like Really You Know) are standard jazz, others (It's Funny, the torrid pre-fusion Binky's Dream, Two for Two) are more interesting in terms of progressiveness, other being almost interesting if it was not for major flaws (the useless drum solo in Pete The Poet)

One thing for sure is that the two John are really set out on experimenting and Surman's forays in free jazz are just around the bend. Not that essential to understand McLaughlin's role in the spectrum of the site, Extrapolation is nevertheless an important piece of Jazz's puzzle.

Report this review (#93306)
Posted Wednesday, October 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Recently I discovered the amazing Mahavishnu Orchestra, and then I got this album, certainly McLaughlin's debut album, and some people said to me this is a Jazz masterpiece. I don't fell it that way, but it's an excellent Jazz album, with very few elements of Fusion, if you listen to the longest track, "Binky's Beam". Without a doubt, McLaughlin's first recording as a leader features the future innovator playing guitar in an English quartet. Although McLaughlin contributed all ten pieces, baritonist John Surman actually dominates this music, often swinging quite hard. Another thing to say about this disc is it was recorded all in one take, and played so cleanly, with nice improvisations! The special thing about McLaughlin here is that he provides some nice (and sad) intros in almost all the songs, good examples could be the ironically called "It's Funny", "Arjen's Bag", "Really You Know" and the closer "Peace Piece", which features beautiful acoustic guitar. Here you can't hear rocker or overdistorted guitars making solos as fast as he did with Mahavishnu, it's really a lot more quiet and improvisational, with no distortion, more jazzy, and he has not so much participation in the solos because and unknown to me baritonist player, John Surman, takes the majority of the job while soloing, and does a nice job. The drum work is relatively good, and you can hear a drum solo on "Pete The Poet", which could be more logical of it was put on the jamming and fusiony "Binky's Beam", the highlight of the album (with the opener "Extrapolation") with very extensive soloing and a melody, and its main melody would be used in Mahavishnu's "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters", if you pay attention. But this jazz quertet wouldn't sound that good if it weren't for the bass, so an special mention to Brian Odges, an unknown bassist to me, who does an excellent job here, and gives a more natural sound to his bass, close to a contrabass!

Overall, a very good Jazz record but not essential in a Prog discography, but always a pleasant litening! Recommended if you like Jazz of Fusion and you'd like ot go further.

Rating: 3.0/5

Report this review (#101607)
Posted Monday, December 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars i am not a real jazz fun but together with some davis' albums and bobbymcferrin's albums this album belongs to my absolute favorites. Later works of mahavisnu orch. i do not like so much. they are quite different. extrapolation represents chamber jazz music played with virtuosity, humor and beauty. heartmoving themes which sound simple but when listening closer you find them extremly complex and deep. it is very adventurous musical journey.
Report this review (#103781)
Posted Wednesday, December 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars A pre-Mahavishnu John McLaughlin experimenting in primarily jazz music, with in particular John Surman on sax. Actually its more like a joint album with John Surman than a solo outing but if you like jazz it's certainly an enjoyable listen; if you like Mahavishnu and/or fusion, it's worthwhile listening to John as he hones and refines his technique.

Interesting note - the engineer on the album is a certain Eddie Offord. By no means essential, but fine music, and a worthwhile addition for anyone interested in McLaughlin.

Report this review (#114764)
Posted Saturday, March 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Extrapolation - Construction of new data points outside of a discrete set of known data points

Having played as a session/sideman in a number of R&B bands as well as with pop artists which included DAVID BOWIE and the ROLLING STONES in and around London, England for the better part of the 1960`s, McLaughlin played onJACK BRUCE`S 1968 album THINGS WE LIKE which served as a springboard for his first album as leader/composer. Sounding more like a group effort EXTRAPOLATION featured the already prominent saxman John Surman on soprano and baritone saxes, Bill Odges on bass who later attracted the attention of Miles Davis and the underrated Tony Oxley on drums. McLaughlin himself switched back and forth on an acoustic guitar with a pickup and an electric hollow body.

Overshadowed for many years by McLaughlin`s firebreathing MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA formed a scant few years later, this debut is one of McLaughlin`s finest recordings and demonstrates his prowess as a Jazzman. It was perhaps the closest Mclaughlin came to playing straight jazz with the resulting ten tracks, all of which were composed by Mclaughlin himself, having a very bright post-bop experimental free jazz sound to them crammed with solos and interplay from both McLaughlin and Surman. The fact that it was recorded straight with no overdubs gives it a " jam session" feel to it and every crisp track flows nicely into the next thanks partially to engineering by Eddie Offord who would produce future ELP and YES projects.

EXTRAPOLATION is a monumental jazz recording which is also a brilliant foreshadowing of the various musical paths McLaughlin would follow over the next decade. From his participation with MILES DAVIS` and TONY WILLIAMS`proto-fusion projects, through the ferocity of THE MAHAVISNU ORCHESTRA and on to East Indian explorations with Shakti. A timeless gem from the vaults.

Report this review (#115071)
Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Dick Heath
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.

Report this review (#223074)
Posted Thursday, June 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars I really feel that this debut album from John McLaughlin is a "must have" for all of his fans out there. As John was getting ready to record this "Extrapolation" album his roommate Dave Holland got a call from Miles Davis and suddenly John's intended bass player was flying to the U.S.A.. McLaughlin still had two bright young Jazz stars on board in drummer Tony Oxley and sax player John Surman, he eventually added Brian Odges to fill in on bass. I didn't think much of this the first time I heard it. I guess I was looking for something more like his "Devotion" album and this isn't nearly as dynamic or as fiery as that one. For me this is pretty much straight up Jazz but i'm sure Jazz purists would say it's in the middle between Jazz and Rock. It only took one careful listen though to reveal how intricate this record is. Especially the guitar and drumming. It really got me excited after that.

"Extrapolation" opens with cymbals and drums before everyone joins in. It's not very full sounding, more intricate with all these sounds weaving in and out, especially the guitar. The sax leads 2 minutes in before the guitar returns after 3 minutes. "It's Funny" is laid back with sax leading. It's McLaughlin's turn 2 1/2 minutes in. Sax is back before 4 minutes. "Arjen's Bag" is one of my favourites. I really enjoy the sax here as the guitar picks away. Gorgeous track. "Pete The Poet" opens with the focus on the bass then the guitar and sax join in. Love the drumming 4 minutes in.

"This Is For Us To Share" opens with intricate guitar. Actually John uses both acoustic and electric guitar on this tune. Sax is followed by drums and bass as it builds in intensity. Nice. "Spectrum" has some excellent guitar / sax interplay and the drumming is killer. The bass eventually becomes prominant. "Binkey's Dream" is the longest track at 7 minutes. It opens with some good guitar and bass. Sax a minute in while drums continue to impress. This is so impressive. "Really You Know" is very laid back while "Two For Two" is uptempo with the guitar eventually taking the lead with some jagged melodies. Everyone joins in after 2 minutes. "Peace Piece" is a short tune with acoustic guitar melodies throughout.

I do enjoy "Devotion" more but I love how intricate this is.

Report this review (#246887)
Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars John McLaughlin solo debut is excellent jazz album. With great sax player John Surman on the front, this album sounds as great now as some decades ago when it was recorded.

Still not fusion, but more electro-acoustic post-bop, but on the edge of the new era. McLaughlin's guitar is fast and technical, but still not a soloing instrument on this album. You will enjoy jazzy atmosphere more than electric guitar attacks of his later albums.

Compositions all are well balanced and melodic, musicians participated are high class jazz artists. One of the top albums on the end of post-bop era, it's still too much an jazz album for real fusion fan. And it's only weak point of this great release.

Must have for true jazz lovers and McLaughlin fans though. No doubt - 4,5!

Report this review (#292504)
Posted Thursday, July 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Extrapolation is not, I should stress, an album especially reminiscent of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, aside from being a jazz fusion album, so if you go in expecting a dry run for The Inner Mounting Flame disappointment is likely. For the most part, preceding as it does breakthrough sessions like the Bitches' Brew sessions it cannot help but reflecting an earlier stage of jazz fusion which is rooted more in the post-bop music which was the major jazz trend prior to the rise of fusion. Still, it's an interesting early fusion album which shows how McLaughlin was already a distinctive and characterful guitarist even at this early phase of his career.
Report this review (#1097020)
Posted Sunday, December 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This debut album by maestro guitarist sounds to me like a jam session music strating from first to end with practically similar mood. I feel joy listening to this album for example the first time I spun the opening track Extrapolation I felt like I was listening to Mahavishnu Orchestra especially on segments where Joh's guitar playing is fast in tempo accompanied by dynamic drumming and improvised sax work. For most people I think this album represents the kind of music that combines the contribution of guitar and sax played by John Surman. It's quite clear at the opening track that the combined jazzy style and improvised guitar and sax is the name of the game this album is trying to convey to the listeners. I am not saying that bass and drums do not play significant roles. Indeed they are because the bass playing is dynamic and the drumming provides jazz beats throughout the album. John is quite smart on this by providing bass and drums also portion to do their solo in Pete the Poet track.

Overall this is a very enjoyable jazz rock album with relatively excellent sonic production. avid guitar and sax solo would enjoy this album. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#1102009)
Posted Sunday, December 29, 2013 | Review Permalink

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