All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

6

John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension: Now Here This

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Guitarist John McLaughlin and his 4th Dimension group's studio debut, To The One (Abstract Logix, 2010), mined the past for inspiration. The spirit of saxophonist John Coltrane's A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1965) drove McLaughlin's most charged electric playing in years, proving he'd lost none of his fire. Two years on, and McLaughlin's 4th Dimension returns another energetic set of strong compositions, less specifically inspired than To The One, but inspired nonetheless. McLaughlin's electric guitar and guitar-synthesizer swing between biting edge and a lyricism more in line with the sublime Floating Point (Abstract Logix, 2008).

Ranjit Barot replaces Mark Mondesir, and the Indian drummer brings another dimension (a 5th dimension?) to the band. On pulsating tracks like "Riff Raff" and "Call and Answer," drummer and guitarist go flat out in thrilling passages and it's difficult to think of any drummer driving McLaughlin this hard since Billy Cobham in the early Mahavishnu Orchestra days. Barot's polyrhythmic bustle, bass bombs and the snap and crackle of his cymbals greatly inform the mood of the music, and he forms a formidable rhythm team with bassist Etienne Mbappe.

The modal jazz, jazz-rock, fusion and the ever-present blues that has largely defined McLaughlin's unique five-decade musical adventure are all in the mix, though artfully distilled to maximize melody and lyricism. The bouncing blues bass line of "Echos of Then" evokes trumpeter Miles Davis' A Tribute to Jack Johnson (Columbia, 1971), though there's more of grooving funk vibe here. McLaughlin, at 70, sounds even more fired up than he was on that essential Davis session forty years ago. Keyboardist Gary Husband—ever-present in the 4th Dimension since 2007—and Barot take short, lively solos, but melody and groove win the day outright.

The slower, more spacious compositions are arresting. M'Bappes' purring fretless bass, McLaughlin's tender guitar-synth lines and Husband's spare piano playing combine beautifully on the soothing "Waterfall." It's impossible not to be seduced by the joyful guitar melody of "Not Here Not There" or pulled along in the undertow of M'Bappe's quietly spun funk. Husband's subtly emotive playing provides the perfect accompaniment to McLaughlin's more expansive though caressing phrasing. Balladic, and lovingly playful, this gem ranks among McLaughlin's most lyrical compositions.

The delicate arpeggio into to "Guitar Love" has just a hint of Mahavishnu Orchestra, though the band shifts up a gear with McLaughlin unleashing an inspired extended solo. Husband rises to the occasion with an untethered Hammond-style solo that burns, accompanied by McLaughlin's buoyant, floated chords. The short but explosive funk of "Take It or Leave It" provides a stirring finale. Stoked by M'Bappe's funk and Barot's in-the-pocket groove, McLaughlin's gradually intoxicating synth-guitar and Husband's understated counterpoint both evoke keyboardist Joe Zawinul's wicked charms.

With the notable exception of Shakti, McLaughlin's projects have burned fiercely and relatively briefly before new adventures beckon. After more than half a decade, the 4th Dimension has evolved to a point where, to coin a phrase, the sky's the limit. This blend of musical personalities has a balance and dynamism that's all too rare. In concert? Surely unmissable.

Track Listing: Trancefusion; Riff Raff; Echos From Then; Wonderfall; Call and Answer; Not Here Not There; Guitar Love; Take it or Leave It.

Personnel: John McLaughlin: electric guitar, synthesizer-guitar; Gary Husband: keyboards; Etienne M’Bappe: electric bass; Ranjit Barot: drums.

Title: Now Here This | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Abstract Logix

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Origins CD/LP/Track Review
Origins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Bright Force CD/LP/Track Review
Bright Force
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Say It CD/LP/Track Review
Say It
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Alchemia Garden CD/LP/Track Review
Alchemia Garden
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Don't You Wish CD/LP/Track Review
Don't You Wish
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 19, 2018
Read "Live at Club Helsinki" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Club Helsinki
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 5, 2017
Read "VEIN plays Ravel" CD/LP/Track Review VEIN plays Ravel
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 13, 2017
Read "ON Tour" CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "Living In Twilight" CD/LP/Track Review Living In Twilight
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 31, 2017
Read "Fractured Pop" CD/LP/Track Review Fractured Pop
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 20, 2017
Read "Collection Three: Spells (2014-2015)" CD/LP/Track Review Collection Three: Spells (2014-2015)
by Jim Olin
Published: October 11, 2017