John McLaughlin: To Whom All Things Concern
To Whom All Things Concern
John McLaughlin (guitar)
Fuse One: The Complete Recordings (MusicMasters CIJD 60150A)
John McLaughlin (guitar),
Joe Farrell (sax), Vic Feldman (Fender Rhodes), Jeremy Wall (synthesizer), Stanley Clarke (bass), Ndugu (drums), Paulinho DaCosta (percussion).
Composed by John McLaughlin; arranged by Jeremy Wall.
Recorded: New York, April 1980
Rating: 96/100 (learn more)
It was famous jazz producer Creed Taylor's idea to record an album, then a year later another, featuring some of the great jazz musicians of the day. There is nothing innovative about that. But the twist was that the musicians would not have the responsibility of leading the sessions. They brought in their own compositions to be arranged by keyboardist Jeremy Wall, who would also conduct the sessions. Taylor thought this would enable these all-star players to totally concentrate on their playing and not on the ancillary issues that crop up when producing their own records. In other words, take the pressure off. I suppose it was good in theory. But theory and practice are two different things. The albums pretty much stunk.
Fuse One: The Complete Recordings is a compilation of the two albums. Of the 11 cuts, despite the fantastic musicians playing, perhaps 3 or 4 are worth listening to. Those familiar with my taste will rightly assume I like the two McLaughlin compositions. I think that is because McLaughlin's musical character was always out of the mainstream. So no matter what material he gave Wall to work with, it started in quite a different place.
I am bummed out that McLaughlin has never presented "To Whom All Things Concern" in another forum. It is a hard-driving anthem that takes no prisoners. McLaughlin plays electric on the piece. This is noteworthy because for the next 4 years he would go acoustic. The pummeling melody features McLaughlin's guitar and Farrell's saxophone. Both players are in fifth gear. Unlike most other pieces on the album, some of the supporting players are given stuff to do. Stanley Clarke for instance actually leads the charge on bass. This performance is one of my all-time McLaughlin hidden jewels. The tune's power will stay in your head for days. If you are fan of McLaughlin's music, you need to find a way to hear this.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky