The first two selections on this live album show clearly that here's a jazz guitarist who can make it as heavy metal, industrial, and alternative as any rocker. With almost the identical band McLaughlin used on 1997's The ... more »Heart of Things, these six long tracks make up his best pure jazz-rock fusion record since Electric Guitarist in 1978. On the other side of his high energy, McLaughlin is one of the most respectful musicians in the business, in this case honoring drummer Tony Williams on "Tony," with the very powerful Dennis Chambers executing a long, entertaining solo. And even without the presence of Matthew Garrison, son of bassist Jimmy Garrison in the famed John Coltrane Quartet, the shadow of Trane permeates the ballad "Fallen Angels," with young Gary Thomas adding scintillating sheets of sound on saxophone. With all types of colors on keys is Otmaro Ruiz, who's done his fusion homework, with quotes straight out of the George Duke 1970s book on the 16-minute-plus "The Divide." McLaughlin also shows he has a sense of humor on "Acid Jazz," with screaming Jimi Hendrix-type runs augmented by enough in-the-moment soloing from Thomas to make avant-jazz icon Ken Vandermark blush. --Mark A. Ruffin« less
The first two selections on this live album show clearly that here's a jazz guitarist who can make it as heavy metal, industrial, and alternative as any rocker. With almost the identical band McLaughlin used on 1997's The Heart of Things, these six long tracks make up his best pure jazz-rock fusion record since Electric Guitarist in 1978. On the other side of his high energy, McLaughlin is one of the most respectful musicians in the business, in this case honoring drummer Tony Williams on "Tony," with the very powerful Dennis Chambers executing a long, entertaining solo. And even without the presence of Matthew Garrison, son of bassist Jimmy Garrison in the famed John Coltrane Quartet, the shadow of Trane permeates the ballad "Fallen Angels," with young Gary Thomas adding scintillating sheets of sound on saxophone. With all types of colors on keys is Otmaro Ruiz, who's done his fusion homework, with quotes straight out of the George Duke 1970s book on the 16-minute-plus "The Divide." McLaughlin also shows he has a sense of humor on "Acid Jazz," with screaming Jimi Hendrix-type runs augmented by enough in-the-moment soloing from Thomas to make avant-jazz icon Ken Vandermark blush. --Mark A. Ruffin
"....The record kicks off with the truly beautiful and sublime (yet, of course, odd metered) opening melody of "Seven Sisters" which serves the double function of setting a trap for mentally challenged listeners by letting them imagine they're in some sentimental Pat-Metheny-land that's going to stick around for 8 minutes before jolting them out of the blue with some superfast fusion licks. The tune goes through a variety of moods, and is contrasted with a relaxed meditative solo by Mclaughlin and one by saxophonist Gary Thomas, before it kicks into overdrive as Mclaughlin and Thomas simultaneously solo and take the tune out even more beautifully than it started. A new supercharged version of "Mother Tongues" is next. This is a 13 minute electric version of a tune that appeared in an 18 minute semi-acoustic version on 1989's classic "Live at the Royal Albert Hall" and featured Trilok Gurtu's epoch-making percussion solo. Here, in place of a drum solo, we get to hear Mclaughlin and Ruiz jamming for some five minutes straight, trading endless fast guitar and keyboard licks. If it wasn't for Mclaughin being at the other end of the licks though, things would've sounded merely technical. As it is, welcome to your flight to fusion heaven. "Fallen Angels" is a quietly magnificent and very deceptive sounding slow meditation that has nothing whatsoever to do with `contemporary jazz' even though the volume levels are the same. First of all, it stays in complex meters which shift throughout (a straight 4/4 or 3/4 meter is a relative rarity on Mclaughlin-land). Second, the spirit and organic cohesiveness that results is truly special and cannot be fully appreciated until you've listened to the tune many times and realized it just keeps getting deeper and better!"The Divide," a 16 minute fusion odyssey written by Gary Thomas starts off very complicated and smokin' with Thomas delivering a long scorching tenor solo over odd meter (the high point of the record, I think), then rhythmically simplifies just a bit into a funk as Mclaughlin sets up his Mahavishnu style solo, which is soon back flying over more complicated meter again. Mclaughlin, however, to his credit, and to the annoyance of certain `Mahavishnu only fans' , refuses to go back to the hackneyed early `70s Gibson with sustain sound. The result is fresh and poignant. The tone he uses is a uniquely synthesized type of futuristic sounding jazz-rock hybrid with some serious bite to it. It is a GUITAR sound all the way through though, not some wimpy synthaxe sound. The tune does get a little silly towards the end, as Ruiz's good humored and proudly self-indulgent synthesizer solo, endlessly wheezes away, fully aware of the fact that big smiles are being formed on the faces of fusion fans. "Tony," Mclaughlin's tribute to his former employer features an extended Drum Solo by Dennis Chambers. Folks, this is a flashy drum solo to end all flashy drum solos: it is quite ferocious. Chambers goes crazy on it, unfurling mountains of super-fast fills so thick in sound they make John Bonham sound like a manchichi tapping a toy drum. Cobham and Walden would be proud.The last tune, "Acid Jazz" completes the 78 minute CD with a bit of a blast from the past. Thomas is featured on soprano in the beginning. Then, after the tune morphs through a `trippy' 'acid' middle section of semi-synthesized layered soundscapes, Mclaughlin distorts his guitar and feedbacks into Mahavishnu land as he plays a solo accompanied only by Chambers (who doesn't waste any time going wild with the fills in the background). Along the way John throws a few nods to one of his heroes, Jimi Hendrix (with whom he jammed on stage once; too bad a tape recorder wasn't running), by incorporating the riff from "Foxy Lady."....."
Still one with "Great Vision"
Jeff Arenson | Colorado Springs, CO United States | 02/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Live in Paris" is one of Mclaughlin's best recordings and that is saying a lot. This is the best band line-up that he has had since Mahavishnu. If you are expecting Mahavishnu then you are going to be dissapointed, John hasn't tried to recreate that band and it would be borderline impossible to do so. However, if you are looking for a great jazz fusion band performing live then you have found your disc. "Seven Sisters' is the opening tune and Mclaughlin doesn't stray far from the studio version, but the piece does have some interplay between Mclaughlin and Saxophonist Gary Thomas. "Mother Tongues" is a departure from the version he recorded with his trio but it is excellent as all members of the band contribute. "Fallen Angels" is mellow but it gives the listener a chance to catch his/her breath and it still is a good composition. The rest of the disc is incredible. "The Divide" has Mclaughlin and Thomas stepping out to the forefront and ends with a dynamic keyboard solo excursion by Otmaro Ruiz. During the whole song Dennis Chambers displays his amazing ability to constantly come up with new rhythms to a song that demands this. "Tony" is dedicated to the late great Tony Williams and Mr. Chambers performs a typically awe-stiking solo piece in the middle of it. It isn't often when Mr. Williams can be outdone but this is Dennis Chambers and I think that Tony would be flattered. "Acid Jazz" is the closer and what a closer it is. It starts off quite psychedelic,which is fitting and Mclaughlin evokes Hendrixian distorted playing with jazz influence(quite an accomplishment). The tune ends with Mclaughlin/Chambers shaking the room. This disc is highly recommended for all but especially for Chambers fans as it is one of the best exhibitions for , in my opinion, the world's greatest drummer. Mclaughlin has moved away from Mahavishnu but he still performs with amazing groups of musicians and this is one of them."
Fresh Fusion Lives Live
Douglas Groothuis | 04/28/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Few are playing anything like fusion well these days. But John McLaughlin, one of its best designers and players, has assembled an able band with complex and driving/haunting compositions.McLaughlin's playing has more of a jazz sensibility than it did in the Mahavishnu days, but that doesn't stop him from pulling out the fuzz box when necessary--as during his stunning duet with drummer Dennis Chambers on the concluding, "Acid Jazz." Yes, he's playing with the "Foxy Lady" (Hendrix) theme on it!The band is quite tight, but tends to noodle a bit on some pieces. Nevertheless, it grows on you. Chambers is a creative powerhouse and is featured on a long solo on "Tony." McLaughlin does not solo on this piece.Gary Thomas is an able tenor and soprano saxophonist, but his tone is somewhat muddy at times. I think this is due to recording problems not his own technique.Matthew Garrison (son of Jimmy Garrison, bassist for the classic Coltrane quartet) is extraordinary busy and innovative on bass guitar, sometimes matching the lead guitar in speed and taste. He is relentlessly interesting.The only draw major back is the keyboardist's cloying use of the synthesizer on a few pieces (especially the synthesized "voices"). That part of 70s fusion we can leave behind gladly. Give me a competent jazz pianist on acoustic piano any day! Nevertheless, he does trade some nice chops with McLaughlin at times, reminiscent of the Jan Hammer days of Mahahvishnu Orchestra.Thank you, Mr. McLaughlin for all the enjoyable and excellent music you have given us through the years.--Douglas Groothuis"
I was there!
Shane Happach | Miami, FL | 12/07/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was actually at [a] show with my best friend. Both of us are huge McGlaughlin fans, especially of Friday Night in San Francisco. Although The Heart of Things tour showcases the meta-music tendencies of these musicians, their execution was flawless and each member of the band has a chance to showcase their talents. Let me just say it is impossible to capture the energy of a live show (especially at La Cigale) but the sound quality is excellent and if you are a true jazz fusion fan the music will take you there"