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06/06/14

John McLaughlin & the 4th Dimension
The Boston Record
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Guitarist and composer John McLaughlin made his name in fusion and carries its torch decades later. Last year he and his current band the 4th Dimension—Gary Husband on keyboards and drums, Étienne M’Bappé on electric bass, Ranjit Barot on drums and vocals—wrapped up a summer U.S. tour with a show at Boston’s Berklee Performance Center. The Boston Record captures that show on disc, and confirms that McLaughlin’s fusion chops continue to burn undiminished. His excellent sidemen have their spots to shine: M’Bappé’s bass on the funk workout “Little Miss Valley”; Husband’s keyboards on the balladic “Maharina” and the rip-roaring “Call & Answer”; Barot’s drums throughout, but no more so than on his “Call & Answer” solo.

McLaughlin himself is the focal point, though, especially on his short take on “Senor C.S.” (his tribute to fellow guitar god and onetime collaborator Carlos Santana) and “Echos From Then,” which aside from being the second most Mahavishnu Orchestra-like track on the disc, briefly echoes McLaughlin’s mid-’70s Shakti project via Barot’s mnemonic voicing of Indian rhythms. The most recognizably Mahavishnu tune actually is one—“You Know You Know,” from the original band’s 1971 debut, The Inner Mounting Flame—and its first few bars spark appreciative applause from the audience as it wraps up the concert.

Originally published in May 2014
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