Album Reviews

John McLaughlin & the 4th Dimension

Live @ Ronnie Scott's

Artist:     John McLaughlin & the 4th Dimension

Album:     Live @ Ronnie Scott's

Label:     Abstract Logix Music

Release Date:     09/15/2017


Regardless of the setting, fusion jazz legend and guitarist extraordinaire John McLaughlin possesses a fantastic ability to blow a venue’s roof off, no matter how subdued or dazzlingly fast he plays live. Settled contently with his tight backing crew, the 4th Dimension, McLaughlin leaves no one at the famed London club Ronnie Scott’s disappointed—as we hear on his latest live album—thanks to his even and exciting blend of Mahavishnu Orchestra classics and fresher tunes from his recent Now Here This and Black Light albums. This is a welcome surprise, considering McLaughlin’s last live effort , 2014’s The Boston Record,  only boasted one Mahavishnu track (show closer “You Know You Know”).

On this nine-track delight, recorded over two nights  in March, 2017, McLaughlin makes sure to pinpoint instrumental grooves and keep them going whenever possible. Album opener “Meeting of the Spirits” and “Miles Ahead” are slightly slower in execution than their recorded originals but given their startling complexity (still apparent after more than 45 years!), they still embody McLaughlin’s unsurpassed technique to the fullest. While “Here Come the Jiis,” “Vital Transformation” and “Echoes of Then” all emphasize McLaughlin’s talents, they also reflect his onstage humility, as he never hesitates to give individual time, space, and sound to his fellow instrumentalists, drummer Ranjit Bardot (you’re sure to love his scatting), keyboardist Gary Husband, and bassist Etienne M’Bappe.

Considering McLaughlin sounds this good when playing overseas, one should scramble to see him stateside while they can as he’s attached the “farewell” label to his upcoming shows in America. One listen to this album and it’s obvious McLaughlin’s “inner mounting flame” is still burning brightly for all.

—Ira Kantor

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