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John McLaughlin - To The One (with the 4-th Dimension) CD (album) cover

TO THE ONE (WITH THE 4-TH DIMENSION)

John McLaughlin

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.56 | 17 ratings

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js (Easy Money)
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars There was a time when John McLaughlin was one of the more interesting up and coming guitar players out there. In his early work with Miles and Tony Williams, plus on his solo album 'Extrapolation', he sounded like a cross between Barney Kessel's risk taking speed and Larry Coryell's rockin blues roots. Although his subsequent projects, Mahavishnu and Shakti, showed a tendency to get a bit heavy handed, he was still one of the more happening guitarists out there. Then something happened to John, the fuzak movement of the 80s seemed to sap all his creativity and take all the fire out of his playing. After a while I mostly lost touch with what McLaughlin was up to. Except for attending an excellent trio date he had with Dennis Chambers and Joey DeFrancesco in the 90s, I hadn't listened to much McLaughlin at all until a friend sent this new CD of his.

'To the One' is a very pleasant surprise. A lot of the fire has returned to McLaughlin's playing, although it is dulled somewhat by today's overly digital sound and production, still long time fans of his will find a lot to enjoy on here. CD opener 'Discovery' delivers the goods right off the bat with a high speed fusion number that has McLaughlin burning up the neck of his guitar with far more precision and accuracy then he had in his youth. Elsewhere on the album, "The Fine Line' uses some heavy odd-metered guitar riffs that might remind some of the old Mahavishnu days and 'Recovery' is an excellent piece of high speed hyper-funk that bassist Etennne M'Bappe uses as a showcase for his ample skills. The other songs on here have that modern jazz style that is a cross between swing based post bop and Latin based fusion.

If I had one complaint about this album it would be the overly digital sound that plagues so much of modern fusion. The old fusion cats need to take a tip from their younger brothers and sisters in the acid jazz scene and ditch the compressor and digital effects board and get a real Fender Rhodes, a Gibson with natural distortion and a slightly out of tune old school analog synthesizer.

js (Easy Money) | 3/5 |

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