22

John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension: The Boston Record

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension: The Boston Record Ever since guitarist John McLaughlin formed the 4th Dimension—his first electric fusion band in a decade—fans have been hoping he'd dig a little further into his back catalog. The wait is over with The Boston Record, a live album recorded in 2013 at Boston's Berklee College of Music.

This isn't 4th Dimension's first live album, though it is the first to feature the seven year-old group's current configuration. Ranjit Barot, first heard with McLaughlin on Floating Point (Abstract Logix, 2009), replaced drummer Mark Mondesir on Now Here This (Abstract Logix, 2013), and is as outrageously virtuosic as ever; the equally impressive bassist Etienne Mbappe is back too, as is serious double-threat keyboardist/drummer Gary Husband—the only other remaining member of 4th Dimension's inaugural lineup and clearly an increasingly important musical collaborator.

Now Here This came under some fire for its drum-heavy mix; The Boston Record is more equitably balanced. McLaughlin's recent tone has also been criticized, but from the first power chords of the opening "Raju"—the group's standard opener from Floating Point, but which never gets old—it's clear that, while not quite as heavily fuzz-toned as in his Mahavishnu Orchestra days, the guitarist has returned to a far grungier tone that better suits the high octane, pedal-to-the-metal fusion which dominates much of The Boston Record.

The last time this group released a live document—2008's Official Pirate: Best of the American Tour 2007 (Abstract Logix)—it didn't have any material of its own; with Now Here This and its predecessor, the John Coltrane-inspired To the One (Abstract Logix, 2010), the 4th Dimension now has a repertoire on which to draw. From Now Here This, the group delivers the fast-paced "Call & Answer," featuring one of Husband's best solos of the set and a truly epic drum feature over an irregular-metered ostinato, while the equally odd-metered shuffle of "Echos from Then" harkens back to "The Dance of the Maya," from Mahavishnu Orchestra's groundbreaking debut, The Inner Mounting Flame (Columbia, 1971). Despite little abatement in the 63-minute set, Floating Point's "Maharina" does provide some respite, though with McLaughlin's searing lines, it's not without its own impressive power.

It's also great to hear McLaughlin and the group dig into older material like the altered blues of "Little Miss Valley," from the guitarist's Tokyo Live (Verve, 1994), where Mbappe lets loose some serious pyrotechnics, and the knotty, high velocity "Hijacked," from Que Alegria (Verve, 1992). But the biggest—and best—surprise is saved for last, a set-closing updated look at Inner Mounting Flame's "You Know You Know," where the ever-playful McLaughlin quotes everyone from Miles Davis ("Jean-Pierre") to Jimi Hendrix ("Foxy Lady"). It's the first time McLaughlin has looked back to the group that broke his career, but it's more than a piece of nostalgia; it demonstrates that his music is, indeed, timeless—sounding as fresh today as it did 43 years ago.

At 72, McLaughlin isn't just at the top of his game; with his best (and longest-standing) fusion group since his breakthrough/breakout days of the early '70s, The Boston Record documents an artist still vital, still treading new ground—and still as relevant as ever.


Track Listing: Raju; Little Miss Valley; Abbaji; Echos from Then; Senor C.S.; Call & Answer; Maharina; Hijacked; You Know You Know.

Personnel: John McLaughlin: guitar; Gary Husband: keyboards, drums; Etienne Mbappe: bass; Ranjit Barot: drums.

Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Abstract Logix | Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Live at 5e" CD/LP/Track Review Live at 5e
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: August 13, 2016
Read "Abbey Road Sessions, Vol 1" CD/LP/Track Review Abbey Road Sessions, Vol 1
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 25, 2016
Read "Heavy Feel" CD/LP/Track Review Heavy Feel
by Doug Collette
Published: May 21, 2016
Read "Meditations" CD/LP/Track Review Meditations
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: June 4, 2016
Read "Storming Through the South" CD/LP/Track Review Storming Through the South
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 1, 2016
Read "Mujo" CD/LP/Track Review Mujo
by John Sharpe
Published: July 16, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!