John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension – To The One

January 01, 1970

(Abstract Logix)

 

www.abstractlogix.com

 

For nearly a half-century, England’s John McLaughlin has nobly
served as one of the most exciting and innovative guitarists in the history of
jazz. His resume includes such pivotal gigs as his debut stint in UK crooner
Georgie Fame’s big band, a term in the celebrated Graham Bond Quartet, and key
roles in Miles Davis’ groundbreaking electric ensemble and drum great Tony Williams’
group Lifetime; he’s also jammed with everyone from Jimi Hendrix and The
Rolling Stones to Carlos Santana and avant-garde piano baroness Carla Bley.

 

And it was that fluidity by which McLaughlin slipstreamed
between AOR and jazz that made him such a power player of the fusion era. As
leader of the legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra, the man set fire to his guitar by
ripping through post-bop scales with the grace of Django Reinhardt and the fury
of Jimmy Page – quite literally, he was the reason why many old school rockers
got turned onto jazz in the first place.

 

It’s been quite a while since we’ve heard McLaughlin tear
into his six-string. And for those who’ve sat out of his whole Indian music
period of the last 10 years in hopes he would return to the incendiary sounds
of such classic Mahavishnu titles as The
Inner Mounting Flame
and Birds of
Fire
, you definitely need to get on the ball and check out To The One, the first proper studio
album with his latest band The 4th Dimension. Flanked by venerable
British multi-instrumentalist Gary Husband (on keyboards, drums and
percussion), drummer Mark Mondesir and Cameroonian bass monster Etienne M’Bappe
holding down the bottom end, McLaughlin runs through six original compositions
written following a recent spiritual reconnection to John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, the title track of which
famously served as a centerpiece to the guitarist’s 1973 collaboration with Santana,
Love Devotion Surrender. And one can
most certainly hear the channeling of Trane’s sax through the stringwork of
McLaughlin’s blistering solos on tracks like “Discovery”, “The Fine Line” and
“Recovery”, a track that also features the kind of dazzling guitar-bass
interplay that McLaughlin so indelibly showcased during his short-lived tenure
with Jaco Pastorius in the Trio of Doom back in the late ‘70s.

 

Meanwhile, there are two tracks here, “Lost and Found” and
the title cut, which find McLaughlin noodling with his guitar-synthesizer,
evoking the kind of classic analog fusion squiggles his old Mahavishnu bandmate
Jan Hammer was so famous for coaxing out of his Korg. To The One is definitely McLaughlin’s most rocking studio effort
since 1978’s Electric Guitarist, and
a most welcome return to form for this bona fide legend of the axe.

 

Standout
Tracks:
“Discovery”, “The Fine Line”, “Lost and Found”, “To The
One” RON HART

 

 

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