Lenox Avenue Breakdown- Arthur Blythe (Columbia)
McLaughlin, the principal composer here, has taken on a new maturity as a composer as well. Where much of his writing in the past seemed to be little more than tricky unison parts. employing Indian and neo-classical modes with little substantive guts underneath the dizzying dexterity, Electric Dreams material cuts a wider swath. The band's unified character gives the variety of approaches -Basie blues, poly-tonal funk, Coltranish chases - a coherence that last year's recipe hodgepodge, Johnny McLaughlin: Electric Guitarist lacked. Unlike Electric Guitarist, a session where McLaughlin employed different musicians on each track, Electric Dreams has a central character. This album is by recipe hodgepodge Johnny McLaughlin. Electric Guitarist lacked. Unlike Electric Guitarist, a session where McLaughlin employed different musicians on each track, Electric Dreams has a central character.
The high points on the album are many, but especially exciting is "The Dark Prince," a fevered stretch of extended bop acceleration, where McLaughlin fuses the melodic sense and chordal strategies of Coltrane and Parker with the quirky meters of his Mahavishnu period. Though the purist elements of the jazz audience might dismiss this track as mere facile Clash and showboating for its own sake. McLaughlin’s solos are nonetheless crisp. Concise. Elegantly phrased and to the point. The closing guitar keyboard shootout between him and Goldberg is an enthralling example of two musicians pushing themselves to their respective creative limits. "Miles Davis " (so named. as a return compliment to the trumpet player who named one of his songs "John McLaughlin" on his Bitches Brew is heartburn with musical notation after a delicious but over-spiced meal. At this point, I turn off the music and walk into the sunlight of the spirit.