John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension — To the One
(Abstract Logix ABLX 027, 2010, CD)
Has there ever been such a strong John McLaughlin studio album? This slightly revised quartet has come off some high mountaintops (specifically the guitarist’s last two albums, Industrial Zen and Floating Point), and this record benefits greatly from the strong chemistry between keyboardist Gary Husband and McLaughlin on the front line. Main drummer Mark Mondesir is clearly in a effortless class all his own with his wonderful snare; Husband himself even gets in a few licks on drums, too (where it's a real percussion duet and not just a drum-off). Having seen this lineup at the end of their fall 2010 tour gives an appreciation for this top-notch chemistry. New member (and ex-Joe Zawinul bass guitarist) Etienne M'Bappe is a perfect fit for the ensemble, holding down the blistering groove and giving root to each of the songs. McLaughlin himself even shows a little Jeff Beck influence nowadays, and his new approach is welcome and effortlessness. He has clearly shaken off the Mahavishnu reins and injected his new music with a modern flair that doesn't lean heavily on his legacy. Husband also pushes the harmonic envelope with some fine keyboard improvisations, much in the tradition of the long legacy of classic McLaughlin keyboardists. We can hear the voices that these fellows have left behind.
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more