Whatever the technical glitches and promotional fiascos that accompanied the poorly attended 1986 Jazzvisions concerts in Los Angeles' Wiltern Theatre, we are certainly indebted to the organizers for putting together this tremendous five-way guitar summit meeting, available on CD, LP, cassette, laserdisc and VHS video. If you can imagine such a thing -- and the proof is on the video -- the lineup consists of four rock-influenced guitar slingers (John Abercrombie, Larry Carlton, Larry Coryell and John Scofield) surrounding a mellow jazz veteran of the previous generation (Tal Farlow). The problem with the audio versions is that it is often difficult to definitively tell who is playing, for the skimpy four-page leaflet is no help at all in sorting out the guitarists. Still, one can hear some pretty formidable playing throughout the concert, as the fivesome take turns jamming and supporting each other on a trio of standards ("Autumn Leaves," "Misty," "My Romance"), a jazz classic ("All Blues" with a spooky intro), and the obligatory bossa nova ("Meditation"), securely accompanied by John Patitucci (bass) and Billy Hart (drums). The "winner?" Some might find it hard to accept, but the tastiest guitarist at the gig -- as well as the one who is least intimidated by Farlow -- is Carlton, whose commercial records sometimes obscure the fact that he can be an irresistibly inspired musician.
AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell