John McLaughlin hasn’t gone quietly into his seventies. After one of his periodical acoustic immersions, the Mahavishnu Orchestra guitarist has been on an electric, and electrifying, roll since 2006′s Industrial Zen, and this 70th birthday-year release tops the lot. Indeed – takes deep breath and goes for it – this might be the best album of McLaughlin’s career. It’s certainly one of his most life-affirmingly effervescent, with a band (featuring Indian force of nature Ranjit Barot on drums, Cameroon-born bass guitarist Etienne M’Bappe and McLaughlin’s fellow Brit, Gary Husband, on piano, keyboards and drums) that absolutely fizzes with collective energy and creativity. There’s a joyous intensity to tracks such as Transfusion and Riff Raff, and McLaughlin’s solo on the latter is beyond exhilarating. But it’s not chops at the expense of tunefulness. Not Here Not There has a gloriously incisive, stinging, swinging melody that, along with Take It Or Leave It’s Joe Zawinul-like lines, would easily pass the Old Grey Whistle Test.
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