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Friday Night In San Francisco
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Friday Night In San Francisco
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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, September 23, 1997
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The great guitar trio's classic original recording has been remastered.
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Media Type: CD
Title: FRIDAY NIGHT IN SAN FRANCISCO
Street Release Date: 09/23/1997
This live recording from 1980 matched fusion guitar heavyweights Al DiMeola and John McLaughlin with Spanish guitar whiz Paco DeLucia. The result, a dazzling technical display, also earned jeers as the international summit of world-class finger-wigglers by critics who felt it was long on chops and short on heart. John McLaughlin's importance to the development of the jazz fusion scene can't be overestimated: as the guitarist on Miles Davis's seminal Bitches Brew and A Tribute to Jack Johnson, he was the first significant guitarist of the electric jazz era; on his own, he brought power rock, spiritualism, and lush orchestration to the scene via his Mahavishnu Orchestra. DiMeola, the most commercially successful next-generation fusion guitarist, achieved stardom with Chick Corea's group Return to Forever and on his own records. DeLucia, virtually unknown in the U.S., is a fine flamenco guitarist, and it is that orientation more than anything that colors Friday Night: even when playing straightforward non-flamenco compositions, the phrasing and sensibility lurks behind every note. Still, the passion of the music is frequently marred by the participants' inability to play at anything but the most breakneck pace. --Fred Goodman
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Suffice it to say, no one can play guitar quite like John McLaughlin does on this recording. His playing style has more in common with a machine gun than a string instrument. This might be an acoustic jazz guitar performance, but it is no easy listening album. This this is the sound of three of the greatest guitar virtuosos of our time, and perhaps ALL time, holding nothing back. And trust me, if you can play like this, you have more than enough right to show off to your audience.
None of this is to say that Friday Night isn't full of musically sensitive performances. In fact, these recordings are almost as improbable in their musicality as they are in their virtuosity; even with the ludicrous volume of notes being played, they find room for dynamic shaping and smart pacing. It's just that, even if these dudes threw all of that to the wind, this would still be THE guitar album. The technique on display is just that stellar. You've really got to hear it to believe it.
capitalized? Well, that they were, and still are, 3 premier guitar players. That; and this music,
captured in The City, was a pure and unequivocal triumph in the relationship between the artists
and the audience. Oh, and the recording equipment.
This disc is a Sony Music K2HD Compact Disc, playable on any CD player (It is not an SACD) and
uses a wide frequency, 24bit high resolution coding technology. K2 technology actually began
development by Victor Music and JVC in 1987. This is not a new format but another way to re-
master the original or 'master' tapes. So...if the original master tape is not very good then
the K2HD process is not going to add very much, from what I understand.
The purpose, says Sony, is to reproduce the "charms" taken from the original master source to
produce a "rich ambiance and sound reality". They feel it is best used for old master sources
and is recommended for jazz and classical music played by acoustic instruments.
Okay, what the heck does that mean to you? It means old music from analog master tapes can
be enhanced and improved using the K2HD mastering system. This means you DO NOT need an
SACD or DVD-HD capable player. You just use what you already have. Yippee.
Here's also what it means to you. Upon comparison between the original compact disc (16bit) and
the K2HD disk (24bit); overall the K2 has nicer cleaner highs with the mid-range more pronounced.
There also seems to be more presence, a more live feel because of the wider dynamic range.
Luckily the lively and interactive audience, does not intrude upon the music on the K2 disk like it
does on the older 16bit disk. The audience actually enhances the music by bringing you into the
theater and further into the joyful experience.
Extremely fast arpeggio runs are not lost at all. I found that on the older disc this occurred. You
can hear the laughter of the guitarists as they duel on their guitars as well. Notes seem to ring
out more pronounced. In the older disc quieter notes are almost lost. You would have to turn up
the amp to hear them on the older recording. That is not what good sound is all about. It is about
hearing the details of the music at a comfortable audible setting.
All this improvement still allows the fullness of the dynamic sound to come through. The only minor
caveat is the fourth cut, 'Fantasia Suite', the last 'live' cut on the album. It has a more hollow live
sound to it. Is it because there are 3 guitarists on the stage and it is harder to maintain a dynamic
presence as more of the audience is recorded as well? I don't know. I am not a sound expert. The
mastering on this cut still kept the audience involvement at an appreciable level without disturbing
the music. It is still a high level performance and the sound detracts very little.
Overall, you hear a better separation of the guitars and much more definition of the notes, strums,
guitar hits, audience noise, and player reactions and interactions. This is a wonderful performance
of 3 guitarists in their prime, meeting in The City to proclaim their dominance in a age of electric
guitars and an ever-growing heavy rock and roll presence in the American culture.
[NOTES / Audio reference: I have a mid-entry stereo system. It is a Denon AVR-1910 amplifier with
a pair of Polk Audio 45B Monitor speakers and a Denon DVM-2845CI DVD/CD player with a 24-bit,
192kHz D/A converter. I listened to each disc in 'Stereo' only and at the same listening level.]
Top international reviews
The music is purely guitar-instrumental - no vocals, no other instrumentation - and full of spontaneous improvisations, so usually classified as `jazz.' However there are strong classical and flamenco elements. The interplay between the three musicians and between the musicians and the audience (who obviously loved every minute of it and make their appreciation very audible) is highly intuitive, warm and friendly; the atmosphere of the event is very special.
The CD release is good, but the quality of the SACD is fabulous: rich, clear and perfectly balanced, easily justifying the extra cost. Not all SACD releases of live-on-stage performances are this good, but here you really do notice the difference: unconditionally recommended.
On the other hand this is one the most sensational live-recordings ever! DiMeola is flashing and elegant in his rapid-firing playing of scals, McLaughlin is passionate, loud and angry, DeLucia is fiery and emotional in his playing.
Sound-wise (there's a Polygram-cd-version around too) this is the best one; it's remastered and has good liner-notes. Like my fellow-reviewer remarked before; this is not the complete story of that night; it's time the other solo-, duo- and trio-recordings were released too! Especially the solo-spot of DeLucia that evening was hair-raising!
Not this, but the xrcd ultraHD mastering version has the closest the analogue sound of all of the other FNISF versions.
The biggest difference is that this CD (and especially the ultraHD version) does not have the painful "edge" in the sound anymore, anyways this is not a stellar recording soundwise even now, musicwise this is stellar and a very special recording, indeed.
Seems that this K2 HD version is a very limited edition, both of my copies serial numbers are way below 1000 .