Tuesday, May 26, 2020


Image may contain: 1 person
Image may contain: 1 person"Devotion", I've been reminded, rocks hard and steps on the adjectival gas. This 1970 solo release from pioneer fusion guitarist John McLaughlin has gotten much play around here the last month as the seeming excessive requirement that we remain indoors and away from our neighbors has motivated me to scour my CD collection for items I haven't heard in years. 'Devotion" still gets it all in motion, a good thing indeed. It's rawness in guitar tone and it's rhythms so primal yet weirdly  effective in unexpected ways makes this early jazz-rock project still sound new, fresh, the beginning of something that hadn't existed before. This is way before jazz-rock became "fusion" and formalized as a style one could select to study and become a slick professional at. McLaughlin and company were still throwing things at the wall to see what stuck.Buddy Miles, of all people, acquits himself surprisingly as the session's designated "rock" drummer, though I wonder what the mix would have been like if it McLaughlin had Mitch Mitchell (or Ginger Baker) on hand. McLaughlin's guitar work is a wheezing grind and buzzing of devices and attachments, fuzz tones and foot pedals galore, and his riffs are choppy , sharp, angular. Larry Young is the textural component here, simply a genius on his outre minimalist take in a tradition still in the making. In the same vein, ":Live at Fillmore East"  by- Miles Davis Holds up amazingly considering the years that have passed since I've heard this. Davis's trumpet is bold , brassy, snarky and snaky all at once as he darts between, over and through the churning keyboard dialogues of Corea and Jarrett. Jack DeJohnette and Holland are a blistering rhythm section here; the drums and bass patterns achieve the impossible, maintaining a rock beat and firm bottom that avoids the supreme tedium lesser rhythm sections contrive. Part of the joy of this early electric jazz rock experiment are the lack of obvious heads or signature riffs that keep the music well mannered, orderly and constricted, as well as the loose ensemble fit . There are times that it seems the band is hopelessly lost in a riff fest, going toward the cliff at quick, shambling pace, but all that is deceptive; this a discipline with a different philosophy and use. This is a choice purchase.

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