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McLaughlin, John, Jaco Pastorius, Tony Williams: Trio Of Doom

On May 3, 1979 the U.S. State Department sponsored a visit to Cuba for a three-night festival in Havana. Nicknamed "The Bay of Gigs" by some of the participants and officially known as the Havana Jam, the event brought together artists such as Stan Getz, Stephen Stills, Billy Joel and native artists such as Irakere (with Chucho Valdes and Arturo Sandoval). Former Mahavishnu Orchestra guitarist John McLaughlin, Weather Report bassist Jaco Pastorius and drum legend Tony Williams came together to form a full-out assault on the senses with Trio Of Doom.

Although a few cuts previously made their way into circulation, this release marks the first time that the band's complete recordings have been heard. It's about time. McLaughlin lends his considerable compositional talents to the fold with "Dark Prince," a six-minute-plus workout that highlights Williams' incendiary and poetic drum style, while Pastorius' "Continuum" reminds us of the unspeakable beauty at the core of his compositional abilities. The playing, as you might expect, is peak, especially during the studio version of "Para Oriente" and "Are You The One, Are You The One?"

While some will quibble that having two false starts of "Para Oriente" at the album's back half is hardly necessary, it's a refreshing surprise to hear the trio attempt and then finally commit to playing the piece in full.

It's hard to come by musicians of this caliber in any time and holding and hearing this document unleashed at last is one of the great joys and surprises of this or any other year. An absolute must.

Track Listing
1. Drum Improvisation
2. Dark Prince
3. Continuum
4. Para Oriente
5. Are You The One, Are You The One?
6. Dark Prince (Studio)
7. Continuum (Studio)
8. Para Oriente (Studio/Alternate Take One)
9. Para Oriente (Studio/Alternate Take Two)
10. Para Oriente (Studio)

Added: July 12th 2007
Reviewer: Jedd Beaudoin
Related Link: Legacy Recordings
Hits: 5367
Language: english

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McLaughlin, John, Jaco Pastorius, Tony Williams: Trio Of Doom
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-07-12 19:28:03
My Score:

Most probably have already heard the history of this "meeting of the giants" between John McLaughlin, Tony Williams, and Jaco Pastorius-they played a short set together at what was called the "Bay of Gigs" in Havana back in the late 70's, which was recorded for the soundrack to the festival that took place that weekend. John McLaughlin later rejected the live recordings, instead ordering that studio renditions of the same songs that were later recorded in New York City be added to the soundtrack with added crowd noises edited in. Kind of strange huh? Well, this was the time period that Jaco started his bizarre behavior, brought on by mental illness and drug & alcohol abuse, so McLaughlin was a little leery of the live performance initially, but now he has changed his mind, hence the release of this treasure chest from the vaults. Contained in the set from SONY Legacy are the five live tracks, plus the studio recordings. It may not be perfect, but it reeks of the promise that this trio could have accomplished had they attempted to make this more than a one-off.

Tony Williams' blazing drum technique kicks things off with a near 3-minute solo that leads into the raging "Dark Prince", penned by McLaughlin. The guitarist emits distorted shards of guitar fury in blazing fast runs while Pastorius' bass rumbles in the background alongside torrents of drum blasts from Williams. Think Mahavishnu meets Lifetime and you get a good idea of what to expect here. Jaco's signature piece "Continuum" lets the late bass legend strut his strong sense of melody, this time with McLaughlin's layered jazz chords in the background. After an introduction of the players, the trio plows into "Para Oriente", a funky fusion piece featuring ragged guitar lines from McLaughlin, some intense drum patterns from Williams, and acrobatic bass pops from Jaco, including a wild solo that shows his amazing dexterity and lyrical sense. The final live piece is "Are You The One, Are You The One?", a frantic fusion romp that is kind of all over the place, but still features some amazing playing from the three players. Each guy is seemingly soloing with reckless abandon, but somehow they keep it all together. Scary chops, that about sums it up.

The studio versions are a tad more polished, not as reckless, but still damn impressive, especially "Dark Prince", which is a crazy vehicle for McLaughlin. Overall, Trio of Doom will bring about many feelings of 'wow', but it also is rather sad too in the fact that these three legends never made any more music together, and that two of them are no longer with us.

This release features some great commentary documenting the occasion, as well as some fantastic photographs. Fusion fans rejoice!

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