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John McLaughlin - Floating Point CD (album) cover

FLOATING POINT

John McLaughlin

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.76 | 22 ratings

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Dick Heath
Special Collaborator
Jazz-Rock Specialist
5 stars I've have been a keen fan of Indo jazz fusion after hearing, perhaps the first recording in the genre, Joe Harriott/John Mayer's Double Quintet's "Indo_Jazz Fusion", in 1966 or '67. Compare the music and ideas on that with those found on "Floating Point", and you should get a clear idea how the music has progressed and evolved in the intervening 40 years. Where once you had the exotic sound of a sitar or tabla, playing a westerner's idea of raga punctuating 60's modern jazz, you now have musicians from both western jazz and Indian traditional musics, coming together in more senses than one. A coming together, each having loved and absorbed both cultures' music, and now giving out a seamless hybrid of the two. You really don't need to ask the question: am I hearing jazz or raga?, since there is little to provide any clear demarcation- this is how I want it nowadays. Instead let the best fusion to arrive in quite some time, take you for 60 minutes plus into real grooving and novel pleasure.

McLaughlin is the master Indo-jazz fusionist, and with him are two Indian musicians on keyboards and drumkit who love jazz, creating music without borders, Loiuz Banks and Ranjit Barot, respectively. The young French bass guitarist, Hadrian Feraud and Indian percussionist Shashank Sivamani, completes the list of five who are the common denominators through the whole album. The challenge is to guest musicians (one western saxophonist, the others playing instruments associated with India, percussion, flutes, Indian slide guitar and electric(!) zitar (their spelling)), not to lose this subtle balance when making their often virtuoso contribution, and otherwise tip the fusion into straight Indian or straight jazz playing. They succeed and at the same time produce a music which is very fresh, exciting, and in no small way new to most listeners. One of several stand out tunes is 'The Voice', which shifts effortless in over boundaries, demanding you go back to absorb what you missed the first and then the second and x times of listening.

One minor moan is John McLaughlin's use of guitar synthesiser on a couple early tracks. To my ears whether Mac or Holdsworth or Metheny play the guitar synthesiser, the result sounding like a poor man's keyboards, or trumpet or whatever, leaves me wishing the guitarist played those bars sounding like a guitar. However, on the second hearing of "Floating Point" I stopped hearing the synth as something awkward to my ears, but rather integral to the whole.

McLaughlin is on record saying this the best recording he's made. I'm not sure whether I would got that far straightaway, but it has grabbed me like no other McLaughlin recording for over a decade, in way that the much praised "Industrial Zen" didn't. Equally I found the recently released "Miles From India", as a Indo-jazz fusion record, seemingly happy to stick with a 70's concept of Indo jazz fusion, "Floating Point" in comparison is cutting edge.

I also recommend the accompanying DVD John McLaughlin's "Meeting of the Minds" (the making of "Floating Point"), which gives plenty of insights into McLaughlin style of arrangement, production and cooperation with fellow musicians, building ideas to the point that a tune is then ready to be recorded.

One of my rare instant 5 star albums.

Dick Heath | 5/5 |

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