The Guitar Trio

Artist: The Guitar Trio 
Listenability Scale: 80%
Released by: Classic Jazz France 
A Review by:
The Dude on the Left

The Guitar Trio is the third and latest release from, well, the Guitar Trio: Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, and Paco de Lucia. For the uninformed The Guitar Trio’s debut album, “Friday Night in San Francisco” was released in 1981, and is in my humble opinion one of the greatest albums of all time. It was followed in 1983 by “Passion, Grace, and Fire”, a title which describes their music perfectly. Al Di Meola is one of the greatest jazz fusion guitars of the decades, John McLaughlin has both a traditional jazz background (he recorded with Miles Davis) as well as Indian (Eastern, not American) influences, and last, but not least, Paco de Lucia won his first flamenco guitar competition at the age of 11, and is an incredible guitar talent. Separately they are three of the greatest guitarists on the planet. Together they are even better. The music they create is something that has to be heard to be believed.

Here’s what I thought of the nine individual pieces that make up The Guitar Trio.

Track #
Song Title (Length) Credits
La Estiba (5:51) arranged/written by Paco de Lucia
All three solos are pretty wimpy and not real original sounding. A disappointing start, in my opinion.
Beyond the Mirage (6:10) arranged/written by Al Di Meola
The second solo (Paco’s) is powerful stuff. Great backing rhythms.
Midsummer Night (4:36) arranged/written by John McLaughlin
Has a kinda weird into, and is a little slow to start off, but Paco’s solo picks up the pace. Really nice interplay between the three players, especially during the closing solo (John’s).
Manha De Carnaval (6:11) arranged by John McLaughlin
John’s intro is beautiful. It has a soft and soothing feel, yet very crisply delivered. Al completes the piece nicely.
Letter From India (3:54) arranged/written by John McLaughlin
Two nice solos. Paco’s guitar work really stands out
Espiritu (5:30) Al Di Meola
It’s OK, but it’s the only piece that is performed by only one player. I guess Al just has to show off a little.
Le Monastere Dans Les Montagnes(6:15) arranged/written by John McLaughlin
Paco’s solo on this one is one of the best on the album.
Azzura (7:58) arranged/written by Al Di Meola
Al’s best piece on the album, very haunting. Great transitions and an interesting mix of rhythms throughout. Great solos – one of the best pieces on the album.
Cardeosa (6:36) arranged/written by Paco de Lucia
Paco goes all out here. Just great stuff from beginning to end. My favorite song on the album.

I give The Guitar Trio an 80% on the Entertainment Ave! listenability scale. Again, The Trio shows incredible guitar work and the recording is excellent. The only knock I have is it’s kind of sterile. There isn’t the same live feel that created the intensity on “Friday Night in San Francisco,” and the chemistry doesn’t seem to be what it once was. The solos tend to shift abruptly, and not flow the way their older material does. All that being said it’s still a must for anyone who loves great guitar work.