John McLaughlin: On The Road, Part 3: Opening Night
Senior Editor since 2004With the realization that there will always be more music coming at him than he can keep up with, John wonders why anyone would think that jazz is dead or dying.
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There were many high points, but some of the most memorable were when Husband alternated between keyboards and his "jungle kit"a small kit played standing up with two clangy and industrial-sounding cymbals. Husband, at times, played almost synchronously with Mondesir to create an even more powerful groove, but at other times traded off against him to create stunning rhythmic contrasts. That Husband has the opportunity to demonstrate his strength as both a keyboardist and a drummer is as much a rare opportunity for audiences as it is one that ought to garner him greater attention on this side of the Atlantic.
Mondesir didn't get a lot of dedicated solo space, but his combination of dynamics, endless energy and telepathic/empathic interaction with his bandmates ensured equal attention to his contributions. In fact, if there was any challenge for the audience it was that the entire group played so well and was so brimming with ideas that one occasionally had to make tough choices about where to focus. As much as the solos commanded attention, so too did the greater subtletiesMcLaughlin locking in rhythmically with Husband, or Feraud spontaneously picking up on a line during one of McLaughlin's solos.
"Hijacked" was one of a number of features for Feraud, and while the buzz about this young bassist is occurring, there's little doubt that if there's any justice, like Mondesir and Husband, he's going to be an increasingly in-demand player by the time this tour is over. From staggering unison lines with McLaughlin to fluid and imaginative solos, it's no surprise that the guitarist has been referring to him as "the new Jaco." That's not to suggest he sounds anything like the late Jaco Pastoriushis tone and use of a fretted five-string bass take care of that potential misconceptionit's that McLaughlin views him as an emerging bassist of equal significance. Still, while his dexterity and incredible ears were staggering, the groove was never forgotten, and he worked hand- in-glove with the equally double-edged musicianship of Mondesir throughout.
With enthusiastic applause throughout the show, there was no question that an encore would be demanded, though chances are that the thousand or so fans would have been just fine with keeping the band in the hall until the sun came up. Still, while the show was over far too soon, after a few minutes to cool down the group came out to the merchandise area to talk with the fans and sign autographs for nearly another two hours.
It was a terrific start to the tour, and with McLaughlin promising variations in the set list from night-to-night, no doubt there will be plenty of surprises when AAJ picks up the tour for the final three dates in Canada, beginning in Montreal on October 2. And for those unable to make it to one of the fifteen tour dates, a recording culled from the opening night will be available the following morning from Abstract Logix (and at other dates on the tour), with potential plans to make downloads of other shows available as the tour progresses.