John McLaughlin: To The One

John McLaughlin

To The One

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 B+ 

I was raised on The Inner Mounting Flame, the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s 1971 debut. I was 20 and thought it was the be-all and end-all. Since then, I’ve stuck with British lead guitarist John McLaughlin’s Indian experiment Shakti, looked up his work with Miles, with drummer Tony Williams, and checked out his classical, hard rock and flamenco trips, even his ballet score, but nothing has resonated with me like that original Flame.

Until now.

Inspired by John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, To The One features his new band, the 4th Dimension, comprised of keyboardist/drummer Gary Husband, electric bassist Etienne M’Bappe and drummer Mark Mondesir. The six originals in 40:04 feature double-drums on three tracks and McLaughlin switching to guitar-synthesizer on two. The result is all very heady, complicated, meandering, spiritual, bass-centric yet trebly and deeply satisfying. Despite faith being its prime motivator, these instrumentals work well even for godless fucks like me.

It’s all in the twisting and turning and group empathy exhibited by like-minded musicians under a brilliant leader who come together to create music of extraordinary strength and creativity; music of muscle and innate wisdom whose parts fit together so seamlessly that you cannot help but sit there and stare at it as it comes pouring out of your speakers.

This is some primo jazz-rock fusion.

In Two Words: He’s Back!

—by , April 6, 2010


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