A household name since the early '70s, John McLaughlin was an innovative fusion guitarist when he led the Mahavishnu Orchestra and continued living up to his reputation as a phenomenal and consistently inquisitive player through the years. He started on guitar when he was 11 and was initially inspired by blues and swing players. John McLaughlin worked with David Bowie, Alexis Korner, Graham Bond, Ginger Baker, and others in the 1960s and played free jazz with Gunter Hampel for six months. His first album was a classic (1969's Extrapolation) and was followed by an obscurity for the Dawns label with John Surman, a quintet set with Larry Young (Devotion), and My Goals Beyond in 1970 which was half acoustic solos and half jams involving Indian musicians.
On THE PROMISE, John McLaughlin fuses together a variety of sessions that highlight his rich musical eclecticism. Tracks such as "Jazz Jungle" are all-out virtuoso jams that exalt the technical prowess of McLaughlin, drummer Dennis Chambers, and tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker.
"Django" is a rock-inflected jazz waltz featuring Jeff Beck on guitar. "Thelonious Melodius" is much more firmly rooted in the post-bop tradition, while "Amy and Joseph" is a funky Pat Metheny-esque sentimental ballad, and "No Return" shows off organist Joey DeFrancesco's hitherto little-known skill on the trumpet. Sting even makes a brief but memorable appearance on a track entitled simply "English Jam." An extremely diverse album, THE PROMISE is a surprising listen all round.