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4.6 out of 5 stars
9
4.6 out of 5 stars
Passion Grace & Fire
Format: Audio CD|Change
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TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 14 March 2014
The big appeal of this 1983 studio release from McLaughlin, Di Meola and De Lucia lies in the delightful compositional arrangements, the faultless execution of playing and seeming telepathic interplay between these three great guitarists.

The music is all acoustic/Spanish guitar, a 100% instrumental meld of classical, jazz and flamenco styles. Most listeners will be wowed initially by the superlative fretboard fingering, the phenomenal technical mastery of the instruments. But listen again, and the soul of the music shines through: there's light and shade, passion and grace in equal measure, complex subtle textures woven through the mind & heart to set the pulse a-racing.

This music is absolutely superb, among the best guitar music you'll ever hear, if not THE best. Check out also this trio's live-on-stage performance on `Friday Night in San Francisco' where showmanship, humour and improvisational flair are on display to complement the technical excellence and compositional brilliance here.
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on 30 December 2003
For me, this album is as magical as "Friday Night in San Francisco", save for the absence of a live audience on the recording.
The compositions are beautiful, intricate and immensely accomplished; technically, this work is phenemonal, being, if anything, even more demanding than "Friday Night". The rhythmic prowess and stylistic variation, fluidly moving between musical styles, has stepped up yet another gear.
This is brilliant music by three virtuoso musicians who play together with fantastic cohesion and telepathy.
Finally, the recording is superb -- suprisingly, considering it is a digital recording from the early 80s -- with the guitars spatially placed with excellent stability, captured with excellent dynamic range, excellent tone and harmonic richness, and a perfect balance acheived between capturing the guitar detail with the acoustic ambience.
If you loved "Friday Night", or indeed just love high quality acoustic material in general, this album should be considered an essential purchase.
My only criticism would be the rather short run time of this album.
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on 22 November 2003
Of the three albums so far produced by the guitar trio this is without a doubt the weakest offering. This should not, though, dissuade anyone who has enjoyed 'Friday Night in San Francisco' or the later studio album entitled 'The Guitar Trio' from buying this work. The main problem with the album seems to be that on a number of tracks, particularly 'Aspen' and 'David' (both written by McLaughlin), the emphasis is placed upon technical proficiency rather than melody and rhythm.
The standout track for me is di Meola’s ‘Orient Blue’ which has a beautiful, haunting, melodic opening which gradually progresses into a fiery flamenco style ‘outro’. The two tracks written by de Lucia, particularly ‘Sichia’, are fantastic pieces in themselves but on the whole the album lacks the ‘Passion’ and ‘Fire’ of the live recordings whilst not achieving the ‘Grace’ of the follow up.
If you, like me, are willing to purchase an album on the basis that it contains one or two brilliant tracks that are not available elsewhere then this is a must have album for ‘Orient Blue’ alone, but don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t quite live up to your expectations.
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on 27 October 2013
Many millions have been enthralled by the sheer astounding technique on display in this grouping's most famous of albums, "Friday Night in San Francisco", but those looking for the very best of their work should start here. And here's why.

"Friday Night" is more of a rock gig with flash guitar solos, rather than a serious piece of modern music. From the repetitive, and uninventive solos of Di Meola (clearly playing to the crowd), and the "stock" arrangements, to the "improvisation" that was nothing of the sort ("Tales of the Black Forest" was pure formula, performed - or preformed? - more or less the same every night). Great jaw dropping antics, for sure. The only saving grace being possibly the amazing "Frevo".

What we have here on "Passion, Grace and Fire" is the first time this trio actually got together to properly arrange and perform pieces. The album ups the ante by placing a premium on creativity and as result, brings out the best in each of them.

The album opens with possibly the best pieces ever recorded by this trio, McLaughlin's "Aspan". Already a phenomenally intricate, passionate and fast piece in its original "Players" arrangement with Katia Labeque, this piece comes of age in this arrangement. Al Di Meola's solo is refreshingly inventive and original, kicking off with an almost Frippian riff and a menacing low diminished scale figure. Mclaughlin's solo is beautifully wrought, with a form and melody that belies the trademark velocity. Although some may argue there are more polished guitarists today (e.g. Strunz), none I have heard to date have managed such melody and invention in a solo.

Other highlights include "Orient Blue", originally a modal mood piece, here endowed with a beautiful song with verses and choruses over which again McLaughlin shines; "Sichia", a brilliant Rumba by Paco which features one of Al's most inventive and percussive solos to date; and finally "David", transformed into an epic piece by this arrangement, with Paco truly showing what he is capable of in an improvised environment.

Although this album show McLaughlin at the height of his powers, special mention must go to Di Meola, who in this album seemingly began a new path in his music, eschewing the relentless (and ultimately boring) machine gun licks and popular arrangements, and instead placing all his attention into originality of arrangement and improvisation, which had only been hinted at in "Electric Rendezvous". It is no surprise to this listener that shortly after this album, he went onto record arguably his most original, challenging and inspired of albums, "Cielo e Terra".

Paco also now fully shines, in no short part due to the exquisite production of this album, which allows his exquisite touch, sensitivity and dynamics to take your breath away. The production itself is all the better for being seemingly almost entirely reliant on excellent miking: gone the "plasticky" tones of Al's Ovation (regrettably to reappear on subsequent "World Sinfonia" and Trio recordings), replaced with a full mic'ed steel string. With John's stock Yamaha flamenco guitar and Paco's Conde producing a balanced, earthy tone. Reverb is tastefully done, although the overall mastering volume of this album is strangely low.

Of course, some may find this album challenging. Whilst it is possible to put "Friday" on in front of almost anyone and get a volley of thumps from jaws hitting the deck, "Passion" takes - and sustains - repeated listening to get the most out of it. Fans of each guitarist will be rewarded by some of their hero's best work. However, together, this album is a contemporary classic of the first order.

Five stars is not enough.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 July 2013
Much of the appeal of this trio album from 1983 for many listeners will be in the fretboard pyrotechnics that abound here. For me though the real enjoyment that 'Passion,Grace and Fire' provides is in the feeling that the group are working more as a proper trio then say with their more intensly energetic 'Friday Night in San Francisco' album. There are plenty of solos of course, but there is a much more pronounced attempt at arrangement ,texture and musical light and shade. Also the compositions such as the beautiful 'Orient Blue' and 'David' allow for a more considered style of guitar interplay and dare I say,restraint. Mclaughlin, Di Meola and De Lucia play beautifully of course but is the quality of the writing that really makes this set standout.As a result this album bears a lot of repeated listening as its merits take a little time to fully appreciate. Add in the fact that the recording quality brings out the warmth of the acoustic instruments in full measure and you have a collection that deserves the highest recommendation.
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VINE VOICEon 20 September 2001
This is a wonderful example of three master guitarists showcasing their talents for improvisation and displaying some stunning fretwork in the process. My only complaint is that as a studio album it lacks the fire and excitement of Friday night in San Francisco.
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on 15 October 2014
Good item quality price seller all just right thank you
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on 25 May 2015
Great recording but the album disappointed me a little
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on 30 November 2000
An amazing and admirable trio. The precision and clarity of the music makes the heart buzz. Inspiring, moving and energising!
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