John McLaughlin: Glancing Backwards
John McLaughlin (guitar)
Where Fortune Smiles (One Way Records OW 29312)
Karl Berger (vibes), Stu Martin (drums).
Composed by John Surman.
Recorded: New York, May 1970
Rating: 80/100 (learn more)
Where Fortune Smiles is a real curio for fusion and free jazz devotees. Of interest to jazz-rock fans are McLaughlin's pre-Mahavishnu dispersed guitar riffs and nasty solos. This is a mining trip because there are not many here. "Glancing Backwards," penned by saxophonist John Surman, opens with a catchy intro as do most other pieces on the album. Soon after, however, the music devolves into a free jazz free-for-all. Vibraphonist Karl Berger actually maintains a modicum of structure in the cacophony. Saxophonist Surman does not. He honks and squeals his way through. Free jazz folks will dig it. Others, like me, will suffer until McLaughlin takes a ripping electric solo. McLaughlin was in between Tony Williams and Mahavishnu at this time, and his playing reflects that. Bassist Dave Holland is the last to take a turn before the head returns. The tune would get a 90 rating if the free sections were cut down by 90%. That is my prejudice. But, from a historical view, the music deserves to be heard to gain perspective of the careers of these players, particularly McLaughlin, Surman and Holland. It's always good to understand the journey.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky