The Trio Of Doom Live

Trio Of Doom

Sony Legacy, 2007

REVIEW BY: Michael Broyles


“If the combination of those three musicians is as good as they are individually, then this album is going to be awesome,” commented a jazz guitarist friend of mine after I had informed him of the newly released recordings of the short-lived jazz-fusion Trio Of Doom, which consists of John McLaughlin on guitar, Jaco Pastorius on bass, and Tony Williams on drums.  Unfortunately, this passing trio was not even close to being as good as its respective individual musicians. 

Originally recorded live in 1979 during the U.S. sponsored multi-artist Havana Jam at the Karl Marx Theater in Havana, Cuba, McLaughlin found the original live recordings to be unusable and summoned Pastorius and Williams to cut studio tracks to be released with the Havana Jam volumes in lieu of their previously recorded live set.  Almost thirty years later, McLaughlin recently decided to remaster the live recordings for release with the studio tracks.  Sadly, McLaughlin’s original intuitions served him correctly, for rather than doing justice to any of the individual musicians, the live recordings are wholly unfocused and almost un-listenable.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The live recordings start with a Williams drum improvisation that is reminiscent of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messenger’s consistent choice to start each concert with a drum solo.  Sadly, this is the highlight of the Trio Of Doom’s performance.  The next four songs (McLaughlin’s “Dark Prince,” Pastorius’ “Continuum,” Williams’ “Para Oriente,” and Mclaughlin’s “Are You the One, Are You the One?”) all turn into improvisational messes while the musicians themselves never seem to mesh or maintain control of their arrangements.  The studio recordings of “Dark Prince” and “Continuum” are at least more cohesive than the live tracks, but even they sound like a mish-mash of fantastic musicians who should have rehearsed more before recording.  It is not until the studio version of “Para Oriente” that the Trio Of Doom starts to sound like a unified band.  By then, it is too late, and “Para Oriente” leaves one wishing the Trio Of Doom had played together longer before deciding to record.

Another major problem with the Trio Of Doom recordings is that they bring nothing new to each individual musician’s repertoire.  If one wants to hear John McLaughlin or Tony Williams at their best, one should just listen to McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra, Williams’ The Tony Williams Lifetime, or, best yet, both of their stints with Miles Davis.  And while “Continuum” always holds its own as Pastorius’ beautiful masterpiece, much better recordings of this song can be found on Jaco Pastorius and The Birthday Concert, my personal favorite amongst the Pastorius collection.  In essence, Mclaughlin, Pastorius, and Williams are all brilliant musicians and deserve all the credit they get.  Nonetheless, one is more likely to have an enjoyable listening experience when engaging their individual work rather than their collective Trio Of Doom.

Rating: F

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© 2008 Michael Broyles and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sony Legacy, and is used for informational purposes only.