Loose and spontaneous, FNISF sees three world-class finger-wigglers battling it out with ferocious intensity and a sense of fun. For many guitarists it remains the last word in acoustic virtuosity.
It’s easy to forget, 25 years on, what an audacious move Friday Night In San Francisco really was. Here was the world’s most prominent player of the electric jazz era, McLaughlin, sitting down with fusion’s next-gen successor, Al Di Meola, and a (then) unknown ‘new flamenco’ player from Spain.
They were to play all acoustic, way before the days of MTV Unplugged making such things fashionable. They were to have no rhythm section. And they were to make their debut statement a live album from only their 15th show together.
Could they pull it off? They certainly could. And in the process they took instrumental acoustic guitar music to a whole new audience.
Moreover, The Trio made instrumental music fun. Live, they’d quote lines from Jumpin’ Jack Flash and the Pink Panther theme in the middle of Chick Corea pieces, and make their daring improvised interplay a dramatic piece of theatre.
Friday Night... won no Grammys and yielded no hits, yet it remains a landmark guitar album, firing the starting pistol for the likes of Gipsy Kings right up to Rodrigo Y Gabriela...
You say: “Who said metal players invented shredding?” Magnus Mathewson
Must hear: Short Tales Of The Black Forest, Mediterranean Sundance/Rio Ancho
Did you know?: Paco De Lucia was a master flamenco player by the age of 11, when he made his stage debut.