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John McLaughlin: Floating Point

The first 10 years of British guitarist John McLaughlin’s 40-year career featured some amazing work with Miles Davis, plus groundbreaking solo releases and banner albums with both the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti. That South Indian group released its self-titled 1975 debut shortly after the final album by Mahavishnu’s second lineup, and followed with two more releases before the serpentining McLaughlin moved on yet again. The guitarist’s latest prolific streak started in the late 1990s, with the powerhouse band that contributed to the solo CDs The Heart of Things and The Heart of Things Live in Paris. A live reunion disc, Remember Shakti, continued the hot stretch into 2001.

On his new release, Floating Point (and the accompanying Meeting of the Minds DVD, which documents the making of the CD), McLaughlin combines the jazz/fusion and Middle Eastern sides of his personality, with mixed results. Recorded in India with some of the country’s top musicians, Floating Point opens strong with the dreamy “Abbaji (For Alla Rakha),” on which drummer Ranjit Barot navigates McLaughlin, keyboardist Louiz Banks, and Western players George Brooks (soprano saxophone) and Hadrien Feraud (bass) through a rhythmic maze. The only drawback is overplaying percussionist Sivamani, who sounds like he’s being paid by the beat.

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