Friday, January 19, 2018

John McLaughlin & Jonas Hellborg - 1987-08-11, Nightstage, Cambridge, MA

A little night music...

I guess you could say John McLaughlin's always the same guy, no matter what kind of guitar he's playing. He's fast, he's sharp and he's spellbinding. Frank Zappa called him a machine gun one time and Carlos Santana was (and as far as I know, still is) a friend of his.

One could argue he peaked in the 70s, with a great run of records: a handful of Mahavishnu releases, not to mention Electric Guitarist, Extrapolation and Electric Dreams. But in the 80s he dabbed in some interesting stuff: a guitar trio with Al Di Meola and Paco de LucĂ­a, a resurrection of Mahavishnu and cameos on Miles Davis records.

My fave of the bunch is the series of dates he did with Jonas Hellborg. Hellborg, a Swedish bassist who moved in the same New York circles as Bill Laswell, provided a welcome foil for McLaughlin's acoustic guitar. No slouch himself, Hellborg's electric bass has a distinct Jaco influence, in how he's also playing leads, not just the root note or a walking bass line. The two play off each other well, especially when they really get into a groove. Too bad they never managed to get into a recording studio alone together.

On this set, the two work though a spade of old McLaughlin tunes: "Guardian Angel," off Electric Dreams, "You Know You Know" and "Trilogy," both from McLaughlin's Mahavishnu days. I'm sure both "Blues for L.W." and "The Dolphin" are old, too, but I'm not certain. It's also a bummer the tape ends so abruptly. But there's more than enough music to satisfy any McLaughlin fan, especially those who like his unplugged side.

1 comment:

M. Milner said...

John and Jonas: