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Without a doubt, guitarist John McLaughlin is one of the most adventurous, unique and engaging musicians ever to pick up an electric guitar. The acclaim that has come his way during his long and illustrious history is almost unparalleled, as he has explored every corner of music, from jazz fusion and classical to electronic and world music. He's got an imaginative range and multi-genre facility that still distinguish him among many of today's contemporary players. But he never rests on his laurels, as is evident on Now Here This, the follow-up to his tribute to saxophonist John Coltrane, To The One (Abstract Logix, 2010).
Now Here This consists of several sonic roller coasters in which McLaughlin and his band shift through multiple tempos, time signatures and a surplus of kinetic energy. The music literally kicks in forcefully, with the drummer Ranjit Barot's brutal and busy drumming as he crashes heaven's gates on the opening "Trancefusion." Those opening bars mark his presence as a new member of 4th Dimension on this record, as he replaced drummer Mark Mondesir. This track is a roller coaster and one of the many guitarist/drummer duels that happen throughout the record on "Riff Raff," "Call and Answer" and "Guitar Love." These tracks show McLaughlin igniting the fire with his skillful, graceful and feverish playing with blistering runs riding on a rampageous mix of tumbling drums and punchy and funky bass lines. The high tempo electric extravaganza slows a bit on "Echoes from Then" and even more on "Wanderfall," a slow, atmospheric track with beautiful piano and synthesizer melodies by keyboardistGary Husband meshing with subdued background guitar lines.
It is a pure delight to hear McLaughlin and his rock-powered juggernaut 4th Dimension sounding so inspired. The energy and excitement they invest in every sound, including its unparalleled intensity, is really inspiring as they push each other to achieve dizzy musical heights.
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
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.