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December 8 2021 11:45 AM ˚
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Liberation Time, more of McLaughlin contemporary jazz

Jean Claude Elias
Jean-Claude Elias is a computer engineer and a classically trained pianist and guitarist. He has been regularly writing IT articles, reviewing music albums, and covering concerts for more than 30 years.
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Liberation Time is John McLaughlin’s latest album. The celebrated English guitarist extraordinaire has been active for five decades now. At 79, and still composing, performing and recording, McLaughlin’s artistic longevity is one of the most exceptional on the entire music scene, be it rock or jazz, the two genres that the legendary musician is known to excel at, although jazz may have been his prime focus all these years.اضافة اعلان

The new album is definitely on the jazz side, featuring lightning-fast guitar lines, McLaughlin’s trademark, with beats, drum parts and rhythms that only first-class musicians can play to, or cope with, I should say. Indeed, speed is one of the essential elements of the Englishman’s music.

Few other guitarists, even in the otherwise highly technical jazz world, can match his skills, except perhaps for his American pals Al di Meola and Larry Coryell, or Spaniard Paco de Lucia, all of them great guitar virtuosos who have, at least once, performed alongside McLaughlin, leaving us recordings that have become reference works. Mediterranean Sundance, for example, a fantastic trio by McLaughlin, Di Meola and De Lucia, dating back to the late 1970s, is still in the mind of jazz guitar lovers.

Liberation Time opens with As the Spirit Sings, a piece that alone makes it worth buying the album. It is the typical McLaughlin composition and will keep one’s heartbeat above 100 bpm throughout its duration. Again, fast guitar is the main subject here. However, it is far from being everything. The phrases of the guitar are elegant, smart. They go very well with the complex and heavy drumming in the background. The piano part shines as well.

The next track is titled Singing our Secrets and is meant to let one catch one’s breath with its slower tempo. It is also much easier to follow than the opening track. It constitutes an exquisite blend of modern jazz and blues.

Lockdown Blues is a piece that features an interesting part toward the end, where a vocal scat part is sung along with the drums. Both the voice scat and the drums are a challenge, but the two together, the very way they are perfectly synchronized, create a real musical show, demonstrating not only the talent of the musicians, but also McLaughlin’s creativity and his knack for improvisation.

Right Here, Right Now, Right on is another fast track, more on the side of traditional modern jazz, all things being relative when it comes to McLaughlin’s works. Here the saxophone plays an essential role.

Shade of Blue is a soft, slow, subtle and short piece that focuses on the piano and on beautiful, refined harmonies. It smartly shows that genuinely gifted musicians can sound great, whether they perform fast and loud or slow and quiet pieces.

If you like great contemporary jazz recording, instrumental virtuosity and pristine sound, Liberation Time is an album that will more than please you. If your cup of tea is more traditional jazz, easy-listening jazz, swing and the like, you may have to look elsewhere.

By any measure, Liberation Time is impressive. Whether it pleases or impresses you is a matter of taste; it greatly depends on how familiar with contemporary jazz you are. One way to approach the album is to listen to it by groups of two or three tracks. Another point to make: this is not background music that you would play while working or doing something else. It really requires all your attention if you want to do it justice.

If you happen to be a musician yourself, whether a pianist, guitarist, drummer or saxophonist, chances are you will like the album even more.

All seven tracks are composed by McLaughlin. His partners in recording include Roger Rossignol, Vinnie Colaiuta , Ranjit Barot, Jean-Michel Aublette, Jerome Regard, Gary Husband, Nicolas Viccaro, Julian Siegel, Etienne Mbappe, Sam Burgess and Oz Ezzeldin.

Jean-Claude Elias is a computer engineer and a classically trained pianist and guitarist. He has been regularly writing IT articles, reviewing music albums, and covering concerts for more than 30 years.

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