John McLaughlin & the 4th Dimension
At Blue Note Jazz Club – Shows at 8PM & 10:30PM (Doors at 6PM & 9:45PM)
Veteran guitar grandmaster JOHN McLAUGHLIN has earned a place in the top echelon of the six-string pantheon.
His virtuosity has been on display in a number of divergent settings throughout his celebrated career, beginning in the early 1960s as the electric guitarist for Georgie Fame’s rocking Blue Flames. From there he covered a wide swath of musical territory. In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, he explored electric guitar jazz-rock fusion with Tony Williams’s Lifetime and Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, On the Corner and Live at the Cellar Door bands. (It was through McLaughlin’s tenure with Miles that he got to work with Chick Corea.)
The veteran guitar aficionado celebrates his 70th birthday year with the announcement of Now Here This (Abstract Logix) as he ups-the-ante even further with greater fire, finesse and freewheeling interplay with his latest group, The 4th Dimension.
McLaughlin’s musical influences carry over to many of the musical elite also declaring him to be “the best guitarist alive,” as Jeff Beck mused in 2010. In 2003, McLaughlin was ranked 49th in Rolling Stone magazine list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and in the summer of 2007, McLaughlin performed at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival in Bridgeview, Illinois. Chick Corea remarked to DownBeat Magazine that “…what John McLaughlin did with the electric guitar set the world on its ear. No one ever heard an electric guitar played like that before, and it certainly inspired me. John’s band, more than my experience with Miles, led me to want to turn the volume up and write music that was more dramatic and made your hair stand on end.”
McLaughlin’s latest creative venture with The 4th Dimension reflects a slight, yet significant, alteration of the dynamic, specifically the recruitment of powerhouse Indian drummer Ranjit Barot. Cameroon-born/Paris-resident bassist Etienne M’Bappe is back from To the One, as is keyboardist/drummer Gary Husband. This 8-track set of McLaughlin originals, recorded at Studio 26 in Antibes, France, testifies to the guitarist’s decades-long fascination with Indian music, through his effortless virtuosity, and relentless lyricism, even when the guitarist is shredding at near-light speed. As John himself simply states, “Now Here This is the culmination of my life’s work till now.”
The critical praise for McLaughlin’s previous musical venture cascaded forth immediately; John Fordham of The Guardian declared, “…this tight 40-minute document hums with a collaborative energy.” There is little doubt that McLaughlin’s return to the electrified fusion he first innovated more than 40 years ago in groups led by trumpet icon Miles Davis and drum legend Tony Williams – and, of course, with his own earth-shattering Mahavishnu Orchestra – is as electrifying and exhilarating as ever. And for those new to the genre, Now Here This is the perfect introduction – one that will surely encourage them to also dive, head-first, into this legendary guitarist’s lengthy and groundbreaking discography.
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