This is a gorgeous concept album.
McLaughlin, the guitar terror whose steaming lines have driven such bands as the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti, here slows way down, offering a unique celebration of the music of pianist Bill Evans. Instead of the usual bass and percussion he’s been working with lately, McLaughlin backs his acoustic, steel-stringed instrument with the classical Aighetta Quartet--an acoustic guitar foursome--and an acoustic bass guitar. The results are exotic, sumptuous, comforting.
The leader delicately delivers the melodies from such Evans tunes as “Waltz for Debby,” “Very Early” and “We Will Meet Again” on top of floating backgrounds from the Quartet. Then, over accompaniments that McLaughlin wrote to echo the feeling of the Evans selections, he solos. Sometimes the leader’s tones resemble the gentle ring of a harp string; his fleeter statements bring to mind the flutter of a flock of birds taking flight.
Despite the fact that five guitars are generally playing simultaneously, there’s not a muddy moment here. Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good, recommended), four stars (excellent).