|John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension — The Boston Record (2014)|
John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension — The Boston Record
◊◊ This is a first class recording of the final concert of 4th Dimension’s 2013 tour at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston MA on 22nd June, and it’s a stormer.
→ ◊◊ John McLaughlin states, “From time to time, a live record is made that has everything: great collective playing, a terrific audience, fantastic recorded sound, and a wonderful atmosphere. In the new recording of our concert you’ll find all of the above. I’m really happy about this recording.”
◊◊ Influential jazz guitarist who also explored blues, flamenco, and Indian music, and helped found the jazz/rock fusion movement.
Born: January 4, 1942 in Doncaster, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Album release: March 18, 2014
Record Label: Abstract Logix/Media Starz
1 Raju 8:36
2 Little Miss Valley 9:21
3 Abbaji 6:54
4 Echoes from Then 8:15
5 Senor C.S. 2:49
6 Call & Answer 9:18
7 Maharina 4:57
8 Hijacked 6:45
9 You Know You Know 6:11
Copyright © 2014 Abstract Logix
◊◊ John McLaughlin: guitar
◊◊ Gary Husband: keyboards, drums
◊◊ Etienne Mbappe: bass
◊◊ Ranjit Barot: drums
→ Gibson EDS-1275
→ Gibson L-4
→ Gibson Hummingbird
→ Fender Mustang
→ Gibson Les Paul Custom
→ Abraham Wechter–built “Shakti guitar”
→ Ovation acoustic
◊◊ Gibson EDS–1275 — McLaughlin played the Gibson doubleneck between 1971 and 1973, his first years with the Mahavishnu Orchestra; this is the guitar which, amplified through a 100–watt Marshall amplifier “in meltdown mode,” produced the signature McLaughlin sound hailed by Guitar Player as one of the “50 Greatest Tones of All Time.”
◊◊ Double Rainbow doubleneck guitar made by Rex Bogue, which McLaughlin played from 1973 to 1975.
◊◊ The first Abraham Wechter–built acoustic “Shakti guitar,” a customised Gibson J–200 with drone strings transversely across the soundhole.
◊◊ He has also played Godin electric/MIDI guitars, one of which can be seen on the Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Chicago 2007 DVD.
◊◊ John currently is endorsed by PRS guitars.
◊◊ In 2010 guitarist Jeff Beck called him “the best guitarist alive”. In 2003, McLaughlin was ranked 49th in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”. Table player Zakir Hussain has often referred to him as one of the greatest and most important musicians of our times.
◊◊ During the summer of 2013, guitar legend John McLaughlin and his trailblazing band The 4th Dimension — Gary Husband on keyboards and drums, Etienne Mbappe on bass, and Ranjit Barot on drums and vocals — toured across America. On June 22nd they performed at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. This concert was recorded and is now being released as McLaughlin’s latest recording, The Boston Record.
◊◊ When asked to describe The Boston Record, McLaughlin said, “From time to time, a live record is made that has everything: great collective playing, a terrific audience, fantastic recorded sound, and a wonderful atmosphere. In the new recording of our concert you’ll find all of the above. I’m really happy about this recording.”
◊◊ The Boston Record captures McLaughlin and The 4th Dimension playing a fiery performance at Berklee, highlighted by a new take on the classic Mahavishnu Orchestra song “You Know, You Know”.
REVIEW Guardian Score: *****
◊◊ This is a first class recording of the final concert of 4th Dimension's 2013 tour at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston MA on 22nd June, and it's a stormer.
◊◊ At 70 years old, the Doncaster lad is at the top of his game. With the immensely talented combo of Etienne M'Bappe, Ranjit Barot and Gary Husband he has the ideal vehicle to explore latter-day jazz fusion grooves and here delivers a truly awesome performance. Despite the exemplary technical capabilities of these musicians the speed/technique never dominates the proceedings; the music rocks, has a soul, is great fun to listen to and you can actually dance and move to most of it.
◊◊ The band is tight and obviously enjoys playing together, the musical styles of the four a hand–in−glove fit. More classic pieces (such as the epic set–closer `You know you know’ from the Mahavishnu Orchestra days) alternate with newer compositions. Samples from historic McLaughlin numbers are referenced throughout the improvisational sections.
◊◊ Recording by Sven Hoffman is outstanding, with concert–clarity from all instruments and the balance just right. The album has a very exciting `live’ feel, should prove indispensable to jazz fusion fans but will also appeal to anyone who appreciates great music.
◊◊ A couple of minor gripes: First, Ranjit Barot’s occasional energetic vocal contributions don’t really add to the music, and it might have been better if he'd stuck to the drumming (especially on `Abbaji’). Second, the CD package has rather dated style, with front cover illustration straight from the 1960s `flower–power' era — though perhaps that's intentional.
◊◊ For my money `The Boston Record' is every bit as good as classic MO at their best and praise doesn’t get any better than that. The fact that John McLaughlin at age 70 is still delivering music of this calibre to live audiences must surely secure his place forever in the pantheon of the all–time greats.
By JOHN KELMAN, Published: March 19, 2014
◊◊ Ever since guitarist John McLaughlin formed the 4th Dimension — his first electric fusion band in a decade — fans have been hoping he’d dig a little further into his back catalog. The wait is over with The Boston Record, a live album recorded in 2013 at Boston’s Berklee College of Music.
◊◊ This isn’t 4th Dimension’s first live album, though it is the first to feature the seven year-old group’s current configuration. Ranjit Barot, first heard with McLaughlin on Floating Point (2009), replaced drummer Mark Mondesir on Now Here This (2012), and is as outrageously virtuosic as ever; the equally impressive bassist Etienne Mbappe is back too, as is serious double–threat keyboardist/ drummer Gary Husband — the only other remaining member of 4th Dimension’s inaugural lineup and clearly an increasingly important musical collaborator.
◊◊ Now Here This came under some fire for its drum-heavy mix; The Boston Record is more equitably balanced. McLaughlin’s recent tone has also been criticized, but from the first power chords of the opening “Raju” — the group’s standard opener from Floating Point, but which never gets old — it’s clear that, while not quite as heavily fuzz-toned as in his Mahavishnu Orchestra days, the guitarist has returned to a far grungier tone that better suits the high octane, pedal-to-the-metal fusion which dominates much of The Boston Record.
◊◊ The last time this group released a live document — 2008's Official Pirate: Best of the American Tour 2007 (Abstract Logix) — it didn’t have any material of its own; with Now Here This and its predecessor, the John Coltrane-inspired To the One (Abstract Logix, 2010), the 4th Dimension now has a repertoire on which to draw. From Now Here This, the group delivers the fast-paced “Call & Answer,” featuring one of Husband’s best solos of the set and a truly epic drum feature over an irregular-metered ostinato, while the equally odd-metered shuffle of “Echos from Then” harkens back to “The Dance of the Maya,” from Mahavishnu Orchestra’s groundbreaking debut, The Inner Mounting Flame (Columbia, 1971). Despite little abatement in the 63-minute set, Floating Point‘s “Maharina” does provide some respite, though with McLaughlin’s searing lines, it’s not without its own impressive power.
◊◊ It’s also great to hear McLaughlin and the group dig into older material like the altered blues of “Little Miss Valley,” from the guitarist’s Tokyo Live (Verve, 1994), where Mbappe lets loose some serious pyrotechnics, and the knotty, high velocity “Hijacked,” from Que Alegria (Verve, 1992). But the biggest — and best — surprise is saved for last, a set-closing updated look at Inner Mounting Flame‘s “You Know You Know,” where the ever–playful McLaughlin quotes everyone from Miles Davis (“Jean–Pierre”) to Jimi Hendrix (“Foxy Lady”). It’s the first time McLaughlin has looked back to the group that broke his career, but it’s more than a piece of nostalgia; it demonstrates that his music is, indeed, timeless — sounding as fresh today as it did 43 years ago.
◊◊ At 72, McLaughlin isn’t just at the top of his game; with his best (and longest–standing) fusion group since his breakthrough/breakout days of the early ’70s, The Boston Record documents an artist still vital, still treading new ground — and still as relevant as ever. http://www.allaboutjazz.com/
|John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension — The Boston Record (2014)|