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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United Kingdom


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John McLaughlin biography
Born 4th January 1942 in Kirk Sandall, Yorkshire, England

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN is one of the most important jazz rock fusion musicians who goes back to the very beginning of the genre in the early 60's in England, was instrumental through Lifetime, Miles Davis's seminal works and the Mahavishnu Orchestra in progressing the genre. With his latest album "Industrial Zen", JOHN MCLAUGHLIN demonstrates he has still much to say and do in jazz rock innovation.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN's mother was a violinist although JOHN starting learning piano from the age of 9 but within two years took up the guitar. At the end of the 50's he was playing with Pete Douchar & His Professors of Ragtime. He then moved to London. He first came the British public's attention in the mid 60's as a member of Georgie Fame's Blues Flames, in what BBC Four Jazz Britannia series, rather anachronistically called 'Britain's formative jazz rock years'. However, during this time JOHN MCLAUGHLIN was paying his dues and became a sought after session guitarist for pop recordings, while playing blues and jazz for pleasure for instance recordings with blues harpist Duffy Powers and working with Alexis Korner. He joined the Graham Bond Organisation (with Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker), had a brief spell with Brian Auger's Trinity.

British jazz by the mid to late 60's had begun to develop its own independent voice (rather than doing largely inferior USA jazz impressions). JOHN MCLAUGHLIN was first recognised to be a new innovative guitarist whilst working as part of Danny Thompson's Trio, (their album "Trio Live 1967", was not to be issued for several decades, however), for instance merging bebop and Wes Montgomery's guitar style. However, Montgomery was not the only influence; MCLAUGHLIN recently said: "I grew up in the 60's listening to the music of Coltrane and Miles. But even then the music played with Georgie Fame was good R'n'B. The Graham Bond Organisation with Baker and Bruce was a powerful band pushing boundaries. When I went to the USA to join Tony in Lifetime it was crazy. We pushed at boundaries even more, didn't we?"

In 1968, jazz in the UK took a major turn of direction moving from experimental, often free and/or atonal jazz, to take on board the energy and the electricity of rock - while many young jazz musicians were finding work doing sessions for rock musicians, in a flurry of cross-fertilisation. In 1969 MCLAUGHLIN recorded the ground-breaking "Extrapolation" (with ...
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Buy JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Music


Trio of DoomTrio of Doom
Sony Legacy 2007
Audio CD$4.53
$7.55 (used)
My Goal's BeyondMy Goal's Beyond
Douglas Music 2010
Audio CD$10.89
$14.87 (used)
Electric GuitaristElectric Guitarist
SBME SPECIAL MKTS. 2008
Audio CD$4.00
$4.07 (used)
Thieves And PoetsThieves And Poets
Import
Verve 2003
Audio CD$7.84
$3.52 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Collection 2001 by John Mclaughlin & The Mahavishnu Orchestra USD $8.89 Buy It Now 1h 5m
John McLaughlin (1984 VPI Cleaned LP Playtested 125190 1st Pressing) Mahavishnu USD $11.88 Buy It Now 2h 40m
Shakti with John Mclaughlin Demo Columbia PC 34162 VG+ USD $4.99 [0 bids]
2h 48m
The Mahavishnu Orchestra with John McLaughlin "The Inner Mounting Flame" LP USD $4.95 [0 bids]
3h 21m
NEW The Essential John McLaughlin (Audio CD) USD $39.98 Buy It Now 3h 31m
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Extrapolation LP (saw mark, sm corner ding) Rock USD $15.00 Buy It Now 4h 21m
John McLaughlin Devotion WPIR PROMO 12" LP RARE USD $9.99 [0 bids]
4h 25m
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6h 22m
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Al DiMeola John McLaughlin Paco DeLucia : Friday Night in San Francis USD $0.99 [1 bids]
6h 56m
JOHN McLAUGHLIN - DEVOTION - 1972 DOUGLAS JAZZ/ROCK EX USD $3.96 [0 bids]
7h 26m
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7h 42m
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8h 4m
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JOHN McLAUGHLIN Where Fortune Smiles JAPAN Limited Mini LP CD 2005 W/Obi USD $79.00 Buy It Now 11h 23m
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11h 31m
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John McLaughlin Devotion vinyl LP album record UK DGL65075 DOUGLAS 1972 USD $38.22 Buy It Now 13h 41m
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN EXTRAPOLATION POLYDOR USA LP ORIGINAL CLEAN! USD $9.99 [0 bids]
14h 19m
TONY WILLIAMS LIFETIME EMERGENCY W/LARRY YOUNG JOHN MCLAUGHLIN LP ORIG DBL CLEAN USD $9.99 [1 bids]
14h 27m
JOHN McLAUGHLIN TRIO CD - LIVE AT THE ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA USD $12.99 [0 bids]
15h 31m
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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN & JOHN...-WHERE FORTUNE SMILES-IMPORT CD WITH JAPAN OBI F30 USD $24.50 Buy It Now 16h 17m
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16h 47m
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Mahavishnu John McLaughlin - My Goal's Beyond - RARE Original 1971 "Douglas 9" USD $17.99 Buy It Now 19h 54m
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JOHN McLAUGHLIN the best of 1980 UK CBS STEREO VINYL LP USD $11.87 Buy It Now 1 day
JOHN McLAUGHLIN Orig 1982 Music Spoken Here" LP w "David" SEALED USD $24.99 Buy It Now 1 day
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John McLaughlin After The Rain CD NEW 1995 Jazz Joey DeFrancesco/Elvin Jones USD $19.79 Buy It Now 1 day
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1 day
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Sitar Fusion Music LP Shakti With John McLaughlin A Handful Of Beauty 1A-1/2B-1. USD $11.22 [0 bids]
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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN DEVOTION LP UK 1972 DGL65075 A1/B1 UK 1ST PRESS PLAYTESTED USD $13.20 [0 bids]
1 day
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John McLaughlin Mahavishnu x 5 CDs USD $9.90 [3 bids]
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SHAKTI , JOHN MCLAUGHLIN A Handful Of Beauty SRCS-9381 CD JAPAN 1998 NEW USD $49.23 Buy It Now 1 day
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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Electric Guitarist LP - 1978 Columbia Orig. USD $8.00 Buy It Now 2 days
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2 days
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Mahavishnu Orchestra - The Inner Mounting Flame - Billy Cobham - John McLaughlin USD $2.99 Buy It Now 2 days
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Mahavishnu Origine Japan Promo only Test Vinyl LP John Mclaughlin Miles Davis USD $99.99 Buy It Now 2 days
John McLaughlin With The One Truth Band ?- Electric Dreams / LP USD $11.00 Buy It Now 2 days
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John Mclaughlin - Extrapolation Cassette ©1969 Polydor Italy USD $44.00 Buy It Now 2 days
The Heart of Things: Live in Paris by John McLaughlin (CD, Mar-2000, Verve) USD $12.95 Buy It Now 2 days
John McLaughlin-Devotion 1972/1984 Holland Celluloid CELD5010 MINT Classic LP! USD $9.59 Buy It Now 2 days
FUSE ONE - CTI LABEL JAZZ COMPILATION LP - JOHN MCLAUGHLIN - STANLEY CLARKE 1980 USD $19.25 Buy It Now 2 days

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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.93 | 62 ratings
Extrapolation
1969
3.86 | 49 ratings
Devotion
1970
3.75 | 38 ratings
My Goals Beyond
1971
3.15 | 27 ratings
Where Fortune Smiles
1971
3.27 | 43 ratings
Johnny McLaughlin - Electric Guitarist
1978
3.69 | 30 ratings
Electric Dreams
1979
3.24 | 23 ratings
Belo Horizonte
1981
3.17 | 19 ratings
Music Spoken Here
1982
3.87 | 24 ratings
Qué alegria
1992
3.72 | 18 ratings
Time Remembered: John McLaughlin Plays Bill Evans
1993
4.62 | 10 ratings
Molom - A Legend Of Mongolia (OST)
1995
3.60 | 19 ratings
After The Rain
1995
3.89 | 33 ratings
The Promise
1996
3.92 | 20 ratings
The Heart Of Things
1997
3.22 | 22 ratings
Thieves And Poets
2003
3.57 | 33 ratings
Industrial Zen
2006
3.78 | 21 ratings
Floating Point
2008
3.67 | 22 ratings
To The One (with the 4-th Dimension)
2010
3.47 | 10 ratings
Now Here This (with The 4th Dimension)
2012
3.75 | 8 ratings
Black Light
2015

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.33 | 16 ratings
Live at the Royal Festival Hall
1990
3.67 | 13 ratings
Concerto for Guitar & Orchestra "The Mediterranean"
1990
3.80 | 14 ratings
Tokyo Live
1994
4.45 | 13 ratings
The Heart of Things: Live In Paris
2000
4.00 | 2 ratings
Official Pirate: The Best Of The American Tour
2007
3.95 | 18 ratings
Five Peace Band (with Chick Corea)
2009
4.57 | 7 ratings
The Boston Record (with The 4th Dimension)
2014

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.70 | 7 ratings
McLaughlin / DeLucia / Coryell - Meeting of the Spirits
1980
4.09 | 2 ratings
Live @ Belgrade (with 4-th Dimension)
2009

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.10 | 2 ratings
The Best of John McLaughlin
1980
4.00 | 1 ratings
Greatest Hits
1990
5.00 | 1 ratings
Compact Jazz: John McLaughlin
1993
5.00 | 1 ratings
This Is Jazz, Vol. 17
1996
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Collection
2000
4.85 | 4 ratings
Montreux Concerts
2003
0.00 | 0 ratings
Guitar & Bass
2004
5.00 | 2 ratings
Original Album Classics
2007
3.47 | 15 ratings
Trio of Doom (with Jaco Pastorius and Tony Williams)
2007
4.03 | 3 ratings
The Essential John McLaughlin
2007

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Johnny McLaughlin - Electric Guitarist by MCLAUGHLIN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.27 | 43 ratings

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Johnny McLaughlin - Electric Guitarist
John McLaughlin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars This album doesn't get a lot of love here, perhaps because it's just collection of instrumental jazz-rock pieces with no central Mahavishnu-esque theme, perhaps too many guests on board but for a bass fiend like myself, getting to admire talents like Fermando Saunders, Alphonso Johnson, the great Jack Bruce, super show-off Stanley Clarke and the magical Neil Jason (who has played with EVERYONE) is quite the thrill. Now the drummers aren't too shabby either what with Tony Williams, Michael Walden, Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette and Tony Smith bashing away merrily on the drum kit. The keyboardists are quite ordinary (LOL): Chick Corea, Tom Coster, Patrice Rushen and the highly underrated Stu Goldberg. Yes, laughter is permitted, just throw in Carlos Santana, David Sanborn and jerry Goodman. Are these all uninspired session men earning their keep and playing along at minimum speed? No. A big resounding NO! Many have criticized this release as having no direction and no soul, which already is odd for the jazz-rock scene that thrives on jamming and technical prowess. The main clue to better understand what is going on here should be immediate: this is not a Mahavishnu Orchestra or a John McLaughlin album but a 'JOHNNY McLaughlin" release! It seems to be a rather important inkling into what was intended, since he had never called himself Johnny before or after! Let us try to analyze this effort on its own merits and not according to past or future positions.

The sheer quality of the cast is enough to make one want to let go of any and all apprehensions and enjoy the ride. Boost the speakers to LOUD, I say. " New York on my Mind" is a deliberately restrained and suave piece that glides smoothly along , perhaps close to MO in many ways due to the presence of Goodman and Cobham no doubt (who both shine here BTW), suitably 'Hammer'-ed by Stu Goldberg's stupendously liquid Moog synth solo and driven along by Fernando's sexy bass asylum. 'Johnny' screeches swiftly, showing his legendary dexterity in the finest light. Really great track.

That Devadip Carlos Santana and Mahavishnu Johnny Mclaughlin had a long and distinguished "Friendship " that went beyond being pals and musicians and that would include devout spirituality, is well documented in the annals of rock history, so this piece should come as no surprise or disappointment. It's a typical Santana exhibition, soaring, screaming and diving like only he can, ably assisted by Johnny on rhythm guitar as well as a large contingent of the Santana band, 1979 vintage in Tom Coster and Armando Peraza. Throw in the stunning Narada Michael Walden on the boom-boom kit with Neil Jason carving on bass, and you get the idea. I also hear a tinge of Jan Akkerman in the guitar motifs, a common attribute back in those days.

The "Every Tear from Every Eye" has some identifiable riffs that are by now iconic, stuttering wildly like only 'Johnny' can, Sanborn's sax supplying the opaque serenity and some deadly Taurus pedal work from Alphonso, who will present a lovely bass solo later as well. Slow-burning jazz improv as Rushen's seductively feminine piano shuffle along. Poignant, heartfelt, there is no dry eye in the house, listening to this smoker.

Keyboardist Chick Corea takes over on the bright and adventurous "Do You Hear the Voices that You Left Behind?", ably assisted by busy boys , Clarke and deJohnette, thus giving 'Johnny' ample room to flick his blisteringly fast pick over the strings and get the blood boiling, which he does liberally throughout the piece. The rhythm section really cooks diligently, a phenomenal display that may appear to some as classic jazz. Clarke takes out his acoustic bass to great effect and puts down a mean run. Corea adds a rapid Mini-Moog solo that sizzles.

Stealing the show however is another question-marked title, the Jack Bruce-dominated "Are You the One? Are You the One?", a colossal romp of the finest vintage, expertly fueled by the ever-propulsive Tony Williams and finished off by the omnipresence of 'Johnny''s imperial wah-wah guitar display. The trio is just plain nasty, all three musical giants pushing the boundaries of their immense talent. Bruce takes the long road, showing off some incredible moves, driving his bass manically, barely unhinged and devout to the cause. Nearly 5 minutes of genius. From trio we go to duo, as 'Johnny' and Billy combine for some devilish sonic theatrics, eschewing any need for added support, the two being noisy enough, thank you! What 'Johnny' does to his electric guitar is clearly inhuman, verging on outright sadism. Smear on some sheer and unchallengeable insanity. No wonder Johnny was often compared to Jimi! And from duo to solo, a tender "My Foolish Heart" lullaby, featuring sweet sounds from 'Johnny' and qualifying as an ethereal wave goodbye.

I don't know but I really liked it, a totally unpretentious menu that sparkles, shimmers and glitters nicely as 'Johnny' comes marching home to becoming John again.

4 Power-driven minstrels

 Devotion by MCLAUGHLIN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.86 | 49 ratings

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Devotion
John McLaughlin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Anon-E-Mouse

4 stars A controversial early work released on Douglas Records that left McLaughlin bitterly disappointed, due to the poorly done mixing and finish. Contrary to his repeated requests and pleas, the producer, Alan Douglas (Rubinstein), has flatly refused any chance for a re-mix, so we ended up with some great plating that didn't quite come off as good as it may have with more attention from the producer. A real shame!

This is the same Douglas who wiggled his way to become "custodian" of the entire Hendrix library, releasing some brutally modified works while leaving enormous material gathering dust in the vaults. In recent years Hendrix's father, Al Hendrix, has finally won a protracted legal battle against Douglas ans successfully reclaimed Jimi's legacy.

With a proper mix and without the odd abrupt termination of a track, "Devotion" would be a fine album. Young McLaughlin plays jammy, sometimes furious notes balanced out by Larry Young's etheric organs. A careful observer will also detect elements that emerged barely a year later on the first album by the Mahavishnu Orchestra. But that was done by CBS and was done with due attention to the end product.

Douglas is dead now and it makes me wonder if one day we may hear this work in a form the artist intended to share with us? Still pretty good as it is, but I can't help but to focus on kinda re- mixing it in my head at every spin. A somewhat entertaining, amusing challenge, but it can be very annoying for having to do that, too.

 Where Fortune Smiles by MCLAUGHLIN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.15 | 27 ratings

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Where Fortune Smiles
John McLaughlin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars The truth about this rare album is that it was released originally as John Surman's work, but the later reissue was credited to John McLaughlin for pure marketing purposes.

Anyway, this music is quite different from anything released by McLaughlin before or after. This album features an excellent team of jazz musicians, (rhythm section of Dave Holland and Stu Martin) and they sound great. Surman's reeds lead the band, but they are sometimes pulled down by Karl Berger's busy vibraphone work. McLaughlin is the composer of most of the album's songs and the only other composer is Surman.

The music itself is free-form knotty complex free jazz with only a few fusion licks. This isn't an excellent record, but it makes for an interesting example of an almost unknown side to McLaughlin's music.

originally written for www.jazzmusicarchives.com

 Now Here This (with The 4th Dimension) by MCLAUGHLIN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.47 | 10 ratings

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Now Here This (with The 4th Dimension)
John McLaughlin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Anon-E-Mouse

3 stars Undoubtedly, John McLaughlin has been one of the finest guitar players, composers for nearly half a century. When he gets things right as with the original Mahavishnu Orchestra, with Shakti or some solo projects, not mentioning his works with Miles Davis and many others, or the acoustic trio works, he is just sensational.

Unfortunately, he is also prone to releasing some absolute duds here and there, but more about those perhaps some other time. Suffice to say "Now Here This" falls somewhere in the middle. The rating between 1-5 stars would leave this barely above 2.5 by Prog definitions.

This is not a "bad" album, but I couldn't call it good, either. Ordinary Fusion devoid of any excitements, or definite highlights.

I have "endured" this piece over three repeated runs and found it rather uninspiring and mediocre. Quirky and swift runs on the guitar are impressive alas, there is nothing much new there, more of a repetition of what's been recorded before. The rhythm section - consisting of talented musicians - are pretty much wasted here as they are only engaged to provide a backdrop to those familiar guitar notes. And the overuse of slap-bass by 2012 could be regarded as somewhat "passe".

With due regret, I could not recommend this work as a "must have".

 After The Rain by MCLAUGHLIN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.60 | 19 ratings

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After The Rain
John McLaughlin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Anon-E-Mouse

5 stars I seem to be hopelessly addicted to hear and evaluate just about any release that crosses my path - usually on others' recommendation. It's rather time consuming and only occasionally a fully satisfying experience. This in turn may lead to a degree of prolonged frustration. My birthday was coming up and I decided to treat myself to something sinfully enjoyable, for a change. You know, a bottle of decent red, a decadent pig-out at dinner time and this album to top it up with in place of dessert.

Recorded nearly 20 years ago, I consider "After The Rain" as McLaughlin's finest work since the Mahavishnu, Shakti period. Dedicated to the memory of John Coltrane, the album is a brave deviation from just playing Coltrane tunes the way the man did. No, this album is totally different and it works miracles. For starters, there is no sax featured in a tribute to the great sax player!

Undoubtedly, a most unexpected star of this trio is Joey DeFrancesco on Hammond B3. Actually, it's not a Hammond, but a Yamaha B3, built to fill the gap after Hammond stopped production and it's a superb machine with a rich sound that any purist would take to without reservations. In the hands of DeFrancesco it practically steals the show. Not that it would leave McLaughlin idle, who plays in a tastefully modest and elegant manner. Add Coltrane's former drummer Elvin Jones to the mix and you have a sensational album. From the first note to the last, it is pure delight, short of nectar to the ears.

Highly recommended.

 Extrapolation by MCLAUGHLIN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.93 | 62 ratings

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Extrapolation
John McLaughlin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator 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

 Extrapolation by MCLAUGHLIN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.93 | 62 ratings

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Extrapolation
John McLaughlin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

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.
 Montreux Concerts by MCLAUGHLIN, JOHN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2003
4.85 | 4 ratings

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Montreux Concerts
John McLaughlin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BORA

5 stars Montreux - the place to be!

I admit, these 17 and often very long CDs are quite a mouthful to explore with due attention. Indeed, as an admirer of McLaughlin's works in general, I have been sitting on this Box-set for a very long time now, taking it in in small doses.

These Live recordings were made between 1974 to 1999 and to my best knowledge none of them were released before, either individually, or as a whole. It features McLaughlin's numerous collaborations during those years. Starting with the second incarnation of Mahavishnu (with Ponty), Shakti, Paco De Lucia, Chick Corea, Santana, et al, it's a kaleidoscope that showcases the artist's versatile talents.

A notable absence is the first Mahavishnu Orchestra. I am not sure if they didn't make it to Montreux, or perhaps the recording quality wasn't good enough to release? (Suffice to say, there are a great number of their performances in circulation. Some more legitimate than others and the recording quality varies between horrible and quite good.)

Well, this set of CDs are quite a handful and not for the faint hearted to fool around with. The compositions vary between long, very long and extremely long and require due respect and attention. Often rather different and,or extended versions of the original tunes. In turn, it's almost a new experience bordering on as if hearing them for the first time

Describing the works individually would be a gigantic task, something I won't even attempt here. Some performances are sensational, others represent historical milestones in the artist's career. Whilst not everything here pleases enormously, the package as a whole is excellent. It also pays to remember that this is only, but part of McLaughlin's massive output.

To compile this enormous material is to the credit of the record company as well as the Festival organizers. And that's before we even consider the efforts of composing, rehearsing and performing. mixing and mastering all this material. A big thank you for all involved, I couldn't possibly rate it under 5 big ones. An absolute collectors item - in a positive sense!

 Where Fortune Smiles by MCLAUGHLIN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.15 | 27 ratings

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Where Fortune Smiles
John McLaughlin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by J-Man
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Though it is often regarded as an album recorded under the leadership of guitarist John McLaughlin, Where Fortune Smiles is more truthfully an equal collaboration between McLaughlin and saxophonist John Surman. Recorded in 1970 and released the following year, this is an ambitious free-jazz release that hardly resembles the style of fusion that McLaughlin is most renowned for. With its loose structure and dissonant melodies, Where Fortune Smiles may not be an album for everybody, but it's still an interesting purchase for curious jazz collectors.

As I've previously mentioned, Where Fortune Smiles should not be looked at as a John McLaughlin solo observation, and maybe even viewing it as a collaboration between McLaughlin and Surman is a bit unfair. Although all of the tracks are credited to the aforementioned musicians, the compositions are so loose in their structure that the direction of the music largely depends on where the soloist decides to take the piece and how bassist Dave Holland and drummer Stu Martin decide to hold the song together. It's a challenging listen for sure, especially if you're not well-versed in free jazz, but each track still has a distinct melody to latch onto. The solos are consistently enjoyable, with Karl Berger's frantic vibraphone work stealing the show for me. The man's playing is simply outstanding, and the other musicians deliver great performances as well.

Some of the tracks here - namely, "Glancing Backwards", "New Place, Old Place", and "Hope" - are totally off the wall jam sessions, but there are some more mellow tracks to break up the madness with "Earth Bound Hearts" and "Where Fortune Smiles". The former features some nice soloing from John Surman, and the latter has some great melodic playing from both John McLaughlin and Karl Berger. While I wouldn't call either of them particularly standout tracks, they serve as effective breaks from the dense and highly improvisational nature of the other tunes.

On the whole, it's a bit tough to recommend Where Fortune Smiles since it is such an improvisational and difficult listen, but I don't think avant-jazz aficionados would regret picking this one up at all. While I personally demand a bit more structure from my jazz music, I still found plenty to enjoy here. Where Fortune Smiles is a cool little album from a quintet that I wish recorded more material, and while it may not be essential, it's a nice bridge between free jazz, post-bop, and fusion.

 Trio of Doom (with Jaco Pastorius and Tony Williams) by MCLAUGHLIN, JOHN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2007
3.47 | 15 ratings

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Trio of Doom (with Jaco Pastorius and Tony Williams)
John McLaughlin Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars For a lot of Jazz Rock / Fusion fans out there this is a dream trio if there ever was one. John McLaughlin on guitar, Tony Williams on drums and Jaco Pastorius on bass. Sadly 2 of the 3 are no longer with us. Jaco came up with the name TRIO OF DOOM for the band. This really was a one-off performance as they were invited along with many CBS recording artists (including WEATHER REPORT who Jaco was playing with at the time) to Cuba for a cultural exchange of music in 1979. It became known as "The Bay Of Gigs" to the artists. This was a 3 night affair in Havana, Cuba sponsored by the U.S. State Department. It was the first time in two decades that Cubans and Americans shared the same stage. TRIO OF DOOM had 25 minutes to do their thing. Five days after their performance they re-recorded three of the tracks at Columbia Studios in New York bringing the combined studio and live songs up to 39 minutes and enough to release on an album.

We get the live show first opening with a drum solo from Tony called "Drum Improvisation". It blends into McLaughlins "Dark Prince" the most energetic track on here. The problem with this one is knowing who to focus on. This is lights out good as all three guys let their hair down. Beyond amazing ! "Continuum" is Jaco's composition and it's a beautiful laid back track but there is this underlying power that never raises it's head but you know it's there. The band is introduced to the audience after this song. "Para Oriente" is a Williams composed track and is quite powerful at times. McLaughlin lays down some fire later then a calm ends it. "Are You The One, Are You The One ?" is the final live track and a McLaughlin song. John recorded this with Jack Bruce and Tony Williams on his solo record called "Electric Guitarist". Killer drumming to open then they get into this groove a minute in. This is a monster. Check out the bass after 3 minutes. A big roar from the crowd when they finish. The studio tracks are "Dark Prince" , "Continuum" and "Para Oriente" and while they are more polished they do standup well to the fiery energy of their live counterparts.

For me this is a no-brainer at 4 stars. I have the remastered version and there's a blurb from John about the experience of working with these two legends among other things.

Thanks to Dick Heath for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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