Sunday, October 8, 2017
John McLaughlin / Al Di Meola / Paco De Lucia - 1981 "Friday Night In San Francisco"
Friday Night in San Francisco is a 1981 live album by Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía. It was described by jazz author and critic Walter Kolosky as "a musical event that could be compared to the Benny Goodman Band's performance at Carnegie Hall in 1938 ... [it] may be considered the most influential of all live acoustic guitar albums".
All the tracks except "Guardian Angel" were recorded live at The Warfield Theatre on 5 December 1980, in San Francisco; "Guardian Angel" was recorded at Minot Sound, in White Plains, New York.
John McLaughlin is an English guitarist, bandleader and composer. His music includes many genres of jazz and rock, which he coupled with an interest in Indian classical music to become one of the pioneering figures in fusion. In 2010, guitarist Jeff Beck called him "the best guitarist alive." In 2003, McLaughlin was ranked 49th in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time." After contributing to several key British groups of the early sixties and making his first solo record, he moved to the US where he played with Tony Williams' group Lifetime and then with Miles Davis on his landmark electric-jazz fusion albums: In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew, A Tribute To Jack Johnson and On The Corner.
Paco de Lucia was a Spanish flamenco guitarist, composer and producer. A leading proponent of the New Flamenco style, he helped legitimize flamenco among the establishment in Spain, and was one of the first flamenco guitarists to have successfully crossed over into other genres of music such as classical and jazz. De Lucia was noted for his fast and fluent fingerstyle runs. His collaborations with guitarists John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola saw him gain wider popularity outside his native Spain.
Al Di Meola is an acclaimed jazz fusion and Latin jazz guitarist, composer, and record producer. With a musical career that has spanned more than three decades, he has become respected as one of the most influential guitarists in jazz to date. Albums such as Friday Night In San Francisco have earned him both artistic and commercial success with a solid fan base throughout the world. A prolific composer and prodigious six-string talent, Di Meola has amassed over 20 albums as a leader while collaborating on a dozen or so others.
It was a historic occasion. The appearance of John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola, and Paco DeLucia at San Francisco's Warfield Theatre one Friday night in 1981 was a musical event that could be compared to the Benny Goodman Band's performance at Carnegie Hall in 1938. The Guitar Trio did for the acoustic guitar what Goodman had done for jazz. The acoustic guitar had gone commercial.
In 1979 and 1980, McLaughlin and de Lucia had actually toured Europe with Larry Coryell. McLaughlin tried to release a recording of this group but Columbia would have none of it, claiming Coryell was not a big enough name. Coryell had some personal problems at the time that did not help either. (The video Meeting of the Spirits features this version of the Trio, and it also appears on one cut on DeLucia's album Castro Marin ). When the time came to tour America, DiMeola stepped in. His presence suddenly made the Trio commercial. At any rate, Friday Night in San Francisco was the result.
FNSF truly caught these players' energy, amazing technique and humor to a generous degree. There is no doubt that McLaughlin is the leader (center channel gives that away), but DiMeola and DeLucia more than hold their own. DiMeola, though one of the world's greatest guitar players, lacks the emotional intensity and overall musicality to match McLaughlin or DeLucia. But the Latin influenced music of the Trio allows him to excel in a genre in which he had long dabbled. Not being a jazz player, DeLucia's improvisational work is understandably weaker than the other two. However, the music is as much in DeLucia's bag as anyone’s. The concert is full of call and response, unison playing, heavy chords (courtesy of McLaughlin), and audience screams.
The album's highlight is McLaughlin's duet with DeLucia on an Egberto Gismonti piece, "Frevo Rasgado". The beautiful melody and stunning improvisation leads to an absolutely hair-raising finale duel. (Gismonti has recorded a beautiful version of his tune on piano.) The recording's lightest moments occur during a hilarious duet version of Chick Corea’s “Short Tales of the Black Forest,” featuring McLaughin and DiMeola in which the two masters quote back and forth from various sources including Mancini’s “Pink Panther.” All three players finish the event with a studio version of McLaughlin’s “Guardian Angel.”
Friday Night in San Francisco may be considered the most influential of all live acoustic guitar albums. Though some have criticized it for its muscular tendencies, the recording certainly captures the excitement of the event itself. In a world of electric guitars, it was quite unusual to hear a crowd go absolutely ballistic over acoustic strumming. It is not so unusual today, and this record is one major reason for that.
Loose and spontaneous, this (mainly) live album is a meeting of three of the greatest guitarists in the world for an acoustic summit the likes of which the guitar-playing community rarely sees. Broken up into three duo and two trio performances, Friday Night in San Francisco catches all three players at the peaks of their quite formidable powers. The first track features Al di Meola and Paco de Lucía teaming up for a medley of di Meola's "Mediterranean Sundance" (first recorded by the duo on di Meola's classic 1976 album Elegant Gypsy) and de Lucía's own "Rio Ancho." It is a delightful performance, full of the fire and inhuman chops that one expects from two players of this caliber. However, the two guitarists obviously have big ears, and they complement each other's solos with percussive, driving rhythm parts. There is a laid-back, humorous element to Friday Night in San Francisco as well, best witnessed in di Meola and John McLaughlin's performance of Chick Corea's "Short Tales of the Black Forest." Rapid-fire licks from the pair soon give way to atonal striking of the body of the guitar, running picks along the strings, etc. Before the farce is completed, they have played a blues and quoted the Pink Panther theme. It is funny stuff, and it serves to dispel the image of the trio, especially di Meola, as super-serious clinicians more concerned with technique than music. The other great piece of evidence against such a narrow-minded claim can be found in both the quality of the compositions featured on Friday Night in San Francisco as well as the sensitivity and dynamic variation brought to the performances. A perfect example of this is the sole studio track, a McLaughlin composition entitled "Guardian Angel" (the opening theme of which is taken straight from "Guardian Angels," a song that appears on McLaughlin's 1978 Electric Dreams album). It is a fine piece, and one that features a haunting melody as well as some of the best solos on the record. All in all, Friday Night in San Francisco is a fantastic album and one of the best entries in all of these guitarists' fine discographies.
1. Mediterranean Sundance / Rio Ancho 11:31
2. Short Tales Of The Black Forest 8:41
3. Frevo Rasgado 7:55
4. Fantasia Suite 8:50
5. Guardian Angel 4:00
John McLaughlin – acoustic guitar
Paco de Lucía – acoustic guitar
Al Di Meola – acoustic guitar
Posted by Crimhead420 at 8:58 AM