By Andrew Gilbert
Acclaimed jazz/world music guitarist John McLaughlin in recent years has focused on his… (cp)
Ever since John McLaughlin materialized on the American music scene as the spark plug of Miles Davis’ seminal jazz/rock fusion projects in the late 1960s and early ’70s, the British guitarist has set an improbably high standard as a blazing improviser always ready to take a stylistic left turn.
But his astounding virtuosity makes it easy to forget that he’s also a major composer who has written dozens of pieces treasured by his peers in jazz and several other traditions (including world music, a concept he and tabla player Zakir Hussain helped pioneer with the Indo-jazz ensemble Shakti). While in recent years he’s focused on his power quartet 4th Dimension, which performs on Friday at a Kuumbwa-produced concert at Santa Cruz’s Rio Theatre and Saturday at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall, plenty of other musicians are busy keeping his vast compositional legacy alive.