Saturday, December 05, 2015

John McLaughlin - Black Light (Abstract Logix, 2015)

British guitarist John McLaughlin was one of the pioneers of jazz-rock fusion, performing on classic albums by Miles Davis like Bitches Brew and Live Evil and Tony Williams Lifetime’s Emergency. He wasn’t to shabby on his own either, producing the wonderful album Extrapolation as well as leading the mighty Mahavishnu Orchestra. For the last several years, he has been supported by a group he calls 4th Dimension: Ranjit Barot on drums and vocals, Gary Husband on keyboards and drums, and Etienne M’Bappe on bass. “Here come the Jiis” comes ripping out of the gate, fast and powerful, with a slick sound that is well practiced and designed with McLaughlin spewing beams of electric guitar amongst waves of synth and shifting percussion. The group slows things down for “Being You Being Me” which uses lithe and athletic drumming and percussion to create an interesting a complex rhythm that McLaughlin uses to carve a distinctive solo. Things get pretty wicked in “360 Flip” where dense swirls of keyboard synth and guitar synthesizer duck and weave through the air which is thick with music, and sounds like a soundtrack for a futuristic science fiction film. “El Hombre Que Sabia” takes things in a different direction, with McLaughlin moving to acoustic guitar, playing in an exotic and nimble manner, a tribute to longtime friend and colleague Paco de Lucia. The guitar and percussion build to complex dynamic shifts that make the music continually interesting. Martial drumming and haunting synth open the ballad “Gaza City” this then builds to long tones of wistful synth laden guitar and framing keyboards. The music is ended on a funky note, as “Kiki” features blistering guitar and bass along with thrashing drums. This was an interesting album, those who dislike synthesized keyboards and guitar may balk, but fans of jazz fusion and progressive rock should feel right at home. Black Light -

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