JAZZ NOTES McLaughlin in Touch With His Feelings The guitarist, who appears Thursday at the Variety, is constantly updating his technique. By ZAN STEWART, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Los Angeles Times Friday April 24, 1992 Home Edition Calendar, Page 15 Type of Material: Column; Recording Review
John McLaughlin's ability to play so fast that his notes sometimes blur in your ear may be the most striking aspect of his performances, but the acclaimed guitarist insists that facility is hardly his stock in trade.
"I don't think fast or slow. The point is to put all of my elements at the disposal of the music, so that I can play as spontaneously as possible, as if I were speaking," says McLaughlin, 50, who appears Thursday with his trio at the Variety in downtown Los Angeles.
Nonetheless, keeping his technique honed is essential for personal expression, says McLaughlin, who played on Miles Davis' breakthrough jazz-fusion record "Bitches Brew" and whose new release is "Que Alegria" on Verve Records.
"I feel differently every day, so I play a little differently," he says. "I try to stay in touch with my feelings, so technique is under constant revision."
McLaughlin looks for aural approaches too. Though he still plays acoustic guitar--he mostly gave up the electric model over a decade ago--he now occasionally employs various electronic devices to get a variety of sounds. On his new album, he plays one tune and sounds like a Hammond B-3 organ.
"That's a tip of my hat to Larry Young, a personal homage to a beautiful man," says McLaughlin of Young, the organist who died in 1978 and who was a former associate of the guitarist.
Copyright, The Times Mirror Company; Los Angeles Times, 1992.