John Lewis, the sophisticated pianist for the Modern Jazz Quartet, wrote the beautiful jazz standard "Django." The composition is a fragile piece with a slightly swinging midsection. It became part of the MJQ's repertoire and has been covered many times. But I can assure you it was never covered by two electric guitar fusion gods until its appearance on McLaughlin's The Promise!
Keyboardist Tony Hymas provides a textural background as Beck plays the main melody. McLaughlin adds some accents behind him. What a sound Beck gets! It is gorgeous. He is more than just a guitar player. He is an amazing interpreter who knows how to shape his sounds. That slightly swinging midsection has been transformed into a blues vamp. It rocks and it rocks hard. This isn't a swing, it's a seesaw. Drummer Mark Mondesir and bassist Pino Palladino make sure of that.
It is McLaughlin's turn to play. The first impression is one of disappointment. You are not quite sure you like his guitar tone or the direction of his playing. This is an understandable reaction because you just heard the beauty of Beck's efforts. But soon you realize McLaughlin is building. You will be fully on board by solo's end. Beck is the yin and McLaughlin is the yang. They must sound different to create tension. Fantastic tradeoffs ensue. In the hands of these distinct, historic and powerful guitarists what was once a demure but impressive Modern Jazz Quartet staple has been turned into a fusion blues rave-up. No one wore a tux when they recorded this piece.
February 24, 2009 · 1 commentTags: django
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