On November 20 and 21, 2010, maverick record label Abstract Logix hosted a series of spectacular performances, featuring an array of artists who handily defy genre categorization in favor of unbridled expression. The first New Universe Festival was a die-hard music lover’s dream, defined by artists who seamlessly mingle compositional ingenuity and improvisational grace and fervor.
Among the featured musicians were pioneering guitarist John McLaughlin and his current band the 4th Dimension with special guest, world music legend tabla maestro Zakir Hussain; Widespread Panic guitar hero Jimmy Herring with his electric band; Return to Forever Drummer Lenny White; the all-star quartet Human Element (keyboardist Scott Kinsey, bassist Matt Garrison, percussionist Arto Tunçboyaciyan; fearless guitarist and improviser Wayne Krantz appearing with the amazing Anthony Jackson on bass; visionary Indian composer and drummer Ranjit Barot; and emerging guitar visionary Alex Machacek.
A 2 CD Set of the festival featuring 131 minutes of music was released on July 19, 2011 to rave reviews.
A 2 DVD Compilation featuring the music on the CD, along with excerpts of the grand finale Jam tribute to John McLaughlin featuring all the artists of the festival along with behind the scenes footage and extensive interviews will be released on September 20, 2011. The total time featuring the grand finale jam and interviews is over 60 minutes.
The final guitarist on the album is the Mahavishnu himself, John McLaughlin. His band, the Fourth Dimension, is a tight and nimble unit that can change directions at will as if all the members are a single organism. It will take most listeners some time to work through both discs, but the chance to hear the evolution of jazz/rock guitar in a live setting is well worth the investment. – -Jason Shadrick, Premier Guitar
For those who like their jazz hard, loud, filled with killer chops and intricate writing, the 2010 New Universe Music Festival was like manna from heaven. – -John Kelman, All About Jazz
This thing is amazing!!!! UNREAL!!!! — Russ Baker, Voice of America