John McLaughlin: One Melody


One Melody


John McLaughlin (acoustic guitar)


Belo Horizonte (Warner Bros. 2292 57001-2)

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John McLaughlin (acoustic guitar),

Francois Jeanneau (sax), Katia LaBeque, Francois Couturier (keyboards), Jean Paul Celea (bass), Tommy Campbell (drums), Jean Pierre Drouet, Steve Sheman (percussion)


Composed by John McLaughlin


Recorded: Paris, June 1981


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

The band John McLaughlin led in the early '80s that eventually became known as The Translators comprised European jazz and classical players. The renowned classical pianist Katia LaBeque, McLaughlin's girlfriend at the time and for many years after, had her parts written out for her by McLaughlin. You would never know this from her wonderful playing. You would have assumed it contained some improvisation. The rest of the group was very jazz and rock versed. McLaughlin played acoustic guitar exclusively with this band. It was highly advertised by the Warner Bros. publicity department that playing acoustic guitar with an electric band was revolutionary, but most of the tunes come off as acoustic numbers. That being said, Belo Horizonte is one of the most beautiful and fully realized albums in McLaughlin's career.

"One Melody" is the one tune that actually comes closest to the acoustic-electric marketing pitch that Warners was trying to push. The piece is clearly an ode to fellow fusioneer Weather Report's sound at the time, of which McLaughlin was a fan. Against a lush background the guitarist plays a lovely introduction. The simple melody is built upon one musical brick at a time. McLaughlin begins the construction with a foundation of strummed minor chords. He continues in chord mode through the rest of the piece. The saxophonist and bassist place the floors. Swirling keyboards put up the walls. Drummer Campbell nail guns the beams to the bricks. LaBeque, on synthesizer, and McLaughlin double up on some riffs as they begin to raise the roof. The energy is still building. But time runs out before they can finish the job. The tune fades away. The roof will have to wait for another day.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

Related Links

In Conversation with John McLaughlin by Walter Kolosky
The Dozens: John McLaughlin on Standards by Walter Kolosky

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