Friday, December 14, 2018

Live in Japan 1984 (2018), by Allan Holdsworth, I.O.U.

The spirit, or “eidolon,” of late guitar great Allan Holdsworth lives on in this legendary live date from the mid-1980s in the land of the rising sun.

The first posthumously released album by the artist, it documents Holdsworth’s last performance with his I.O.U. band, featuring Jimmy Johnson on bass, Chad Wackerman on drums, and Paul Williams on vocals.

Holdsworth’s musical genius and ambidextrous virtuosity are on full display here, as the guitarist unleashes his trademark elegant lead phrasing, rapid-fire bursts of fluidity, and ethereal chord textures and colors.

Live in Japan 1984 is yet further proof that Holdsworth was a certified, undisputed master of new age jazz/rock fusion guitar.

Of Holdsworth’s three official live recordings to date, my favorite is 2002’s Then!, documenting a Tokyo show in 1990. That is Holdsworth at his best as the compositions are kinetic and he and his band are on fire.

However, that does not take away from the brilliance of Live in Japan 1984, which is the first of a projected series of live archival recordings from various points in Holdsworth’s solo career. I hope that the albums highlight featured performances from each of the following three decades, especially since Holdsworth continued to play live up until 2017.

--Raj Manoharan

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