The "Blindfold Test"
is a listening test that challenges the featured artist to identify the musicians who performed on selected recordings. The artist is then asked to rate each tune using a 5-star system. No information about the recordings is given to the artist prior to the test.
BLINDFOLD TEST: HENRY KAISER
by Dan Ouellette
4. JOHN McLAUGHLIN. SONG FOR HELEN
from TIME REMEMBERED, Verve).
It's John McLaughlin doing Bill Evans, and it gets 5 stars. John McLaughlin has gone so many places with the guitar before anybody else, and he's been to so many places guitarists have yet to go. He's a master, and here he is playing the music of one of his masters. And he plays it with such love, depth and feeling. A person would have to have something wrong with their soul to not be moved by this track. But why does he use all that digital reverb?
BLINDFOLD TEST: MARVIN "SMITTY" SMITH
by Zan Stewart
2. JOHN MCLAUGHLIN. JUJU AT THE CROSSROADS
from TOKYO LIVE, Verve).
Dennis, that's my man. And I really do like John. So their playing I appreciate greatly. But as far as this group concept here, it misses the mark for me. I got the feeling that John was selling himself short, as if he were making an effort to sound like John Scofield's group. And it probably doesn't help that feeling that Dennis is playing drums, because he played with Scofield. It's just not a strong enough group concept. It doesn't have enough projection and impact for me. This music needs movement, harmonically, rhythmically, so it really helps when you have a moving bass line, a linear aspect that is really missing here. The musicianship is high here, but in terms of performance, I have to give it 2 1/2.
BLINDFOLD TEST: SCOTT HENDERSON
by Josef Woodard
1. JOHN McLAUGHLIN AND MAHAVISHNU. JUST IDEAS/JOZY
(from ADVENTURES IN RADIOLAND, Relativity).
That was John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. I can't say enough about him; he's the greatest. The tune was great, obviously influenced by Weather Report - particularly the tune "Madagascar". Great composition. John McLaughlin is playing his ass off, as always. I think that's Bill Evans playing sax, and Mitchel Forman. I like the way the tune built, really melodic and with great harmony. That's a 5-star tune, for sure. John McLaughlin was one of the first guys I was influenced by. Birds Of Fire is still one of my all-time favorite records. I look up to him because he's such an overall great musician, not just as a soloist but also as a composer and a legend.
BLINDFOLD TEST: PAT METHENY
by Leonard Feather
4. JOHN McLAUGHLIN/CARLOS SANTANA. FRIENDSHIP
(from JOHNNY MCLAUGHLIN, ELECTRIC GUITARIST, Columbia).
Sounds like Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin together, both of whom l hold in high regard, for finding their own voices.
McLaughlin to me is the most important, certainly the most influential voice in the last decade on the guitar, without a doubt. In a way, he's been misrepresented by his imitators; so many people have jumped on his bandwagon that we sometimes forget what an amazing contribution he made. He really turned things around; there's hardly a young player around that doesn't play like him. I find that a bit distressing; l try to avoid it, as much as I love his playing. It's almost a cliche, that real fast playing. But the missing element is his incredible soulful feeling. It's more than the notes, more than he's the fastest gun ... it's that he's an incredibly dynamic, strong personality on his instrument; the same for Carlos Santana.
Again, he's one of the strongest voices around--you
can tell it's him in two notes. I admire both of them and I really like this performance;
it was so loose, and almost free-sounding. The beginning reminded me of an Ornette Coleman
thing, sort of approximate unison a little out of tune. I'd give that five stars. That's
some of the best I've heard from either one of them.
BLINDFOLD TEST: GEORGE BENSON
by Leonard Feather
6. JOHN MCLAUGHLIN AND THE MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA. THE DANCE OF MAYA
(from 50 YEARS OF JAZZ GUITAR, Columbia).
I think you got me this time. There's only two cats I could think of because I haven't heard this kind of thing in quite a while. There's Allan Holdsworth who plays a few things in that idiom ... and there's another guitar player - Hiram Bullock - who plays similar things. I'm not really into that kind of thing, but it got very interesting at the end when they cross-connected the melody. They had a line going at these two difficult tempos. Nice. I mean, it was interest but not my kind of thing because I'm not really into distortion. It's a two star situation.
BLINDFOLD TEST: LENNY WHITE
by Lee Underwood
1. MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA. HOPE
(from BIRDS OF FIRE, Columbia).
That's John McLaughlin, but I'm not sure whether that is the group with Billy Cobham or with Michael Narada Walden. That was only a small theme. I've always liked Mahavishnu. When he first came out on the scene, he had something new. And when Billy Cobham played with that group, it was really great. All those guys were great. On this tune, which was in an odd-time signature, the drummer basically played in and around the theme. A lot of times when guys play odd-time signatures like this, they jerk. But this flowed well. The sound on this cut was very full. It was probably more than Jerry Goodman on violin there. They probably overdubbed several times. Whether they did or not, it was hot. I liked it and would like to have heard more. I'd give this one three stars. For me, three is really good. Five has to be a classic.