John McLaughlin, Jaco Pastorius, Tony Williams. Those three names on the same album are enough to make any jazz or fusion fan take notice. Incarnated here as Trio of Doom, the three virtuosos played a short but fiery set at the 1979 Havana Jam festival in Cuba, followed by a brief recording session in New York the following week. The album—which features the entire five-song, 30-minute set, as well as the three studio tracks and two alternate takes—is a striking testament to both the technical prowess and raw power of each of the musicians.
Williams—a key member of Miles Davis’s transformative electric phase, as evidenced especially on 1969’s In a Silent Way—opens the disc with a tasteful, cymbal-heavy drum solo, which leads into the explosive “Dark Prince,” a McLaughlin-penned song that sounds very much like an accelerated, nearly out-of-control Weather Report tune. But McLaughlin is able to hold it together, with impressive work from Pastorius and Williams, two of the few musicians who were able to keep up with the mercurial guitarist.
After a dreamy “Continuum”—a highlight of Pastorius’s excellent debut solo album that reveals the bassist’s boundless harmonic skills—the slinky, funky “Para Oriente,” written by Williams, demonstrates the drummer’s impeccable sense of timing and swing. It also features a top-notch solo from Pastorius. The loose-limbed jam, “Are You the One, Are You the One?” closes the performance, and the remainder of the album is comprised of the studio tracks and alternate takes.
The supergroup’s short, muscular set is notable for its rough-edged energy and the immediate chemistry between each member. It’s just too bad it turned out to be only a one