John McLaughlin (Guitar, Guitar synth, Piano); Roger Rossignol(Piano);Ranjit Barot (Drums, Konokol); Jean Michel. ‘Kiki’ Aublette (Drums,Bass); Vinnie Colaiuta (Drums); Nicolas Viccaro(Drums); Julian Siegel (Tenor Sax); Etienne MBappe(Bass); Gary Husband (Drums, Piano); Sam Burgess (Bass); Jerome Regard (Bass); Oz Ezzeldin (Piano)
A living legend of improvised music, with a career now spanning more than five decades, John McLaughlin is no stranger to translating tumultuous moments into compelling, thoughtful audio art. Witness his searing contributions to Miles Davis’s infamous Jack Johnson sessions, the explosively pioneering rock/jazz hybrid he helped create as a member of the first edition of Tony Williams’s Lifetime, or the expansive explorations encompassed by his own music — be it the rhythmic revolution of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, the unprecedented east/west fusion of Shakti, or the thrilling telepathic interplay his current outfit, the 4th Dimension.
With his newest album, Liberation Time, McLaughlin draws from one of humanity’s most fraught, uncertain epochs to produce music that gracefully reflects the uncertainty, vulnerability, and slowly awakening joy of our times. A direct response to the mandated restrictions imposed by the spread of Covid-19, the album is — unusually for McLaughlin’s recent projects — not the work of one fixed ensemble. With physical proximity no longer a prerequisite, McLaughlin drew upon decades of experience as a bandleader to select musicians best suited to each composition.
“As the Spirit Sings” introduces the album by contrasting churning rhythmic tension (stoked by drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and bassist Sam Burgess) with McLaughlin’s soaring guitar figures — all underpinned by Gary Husband’s subtle, supportive piano. The knotty post-bop figures of “Right Here, Right Now, Right On” mark one of the most jazz-inflected performances McLaughlin has laid down in some time, featuring Nicolas Viccaro (drums), Jerome Regard (bass), Julian Siegel (tenor saxophone), and Oz Ezzeldin (piano). The sense of brotherhood that bonds McLaughlin’s current 4th Dimension ensemble (McLaughlin, Husband, bassist Etienne Mbappe, and drummer Ranjit Barot) is on full display during “Lockdown Blues,” a playful refraction examination of blues tropes first released last summer to benefit the Jazz Foundation of America.
With vaccination campaigns now in full effect and a more promising tomorrow coming into view, Liberation Time’s title track can be felt as visceral anticipation — a rousing glimpse into an unbound future rich with possibilities. And while much of Liberation Blues revels in the sort of spontaneous interplay that has been denied by Covid restrictions, some of the album’s most touching moments feature McLaughlin alone at the piano — an instrument he has not recorded on since his 1973 collaboration with Carlos Santana, Love Devotion Surrender.
Liberation Time is a product of its times, and yet it looks both forwards and backwards — at once drawing upon memories of better days yet reaching for a new dawn. Looking back at the album’s transcontinental sessions, McLaughlin concludes, “The wonderful thing about music is that you put the headphones on and you are all in the same room.”
beloved John and friends, thank you for all of the inspiring music and love.
I am a long-standing McLaughlin and Mahavishnu aficionado, being turned on to this as a teenager in the early 1970s, and I have been listening again to the first Mahavishnu album Inner Mounting Flame, which I find as fresh, innovative and inspiring as ever. I note that this year is the 50th anniversary if its release, being recorded in August 1971 and released in November 1971 (I think). I just wondered if John is thinking to do any sort of commemoration? I’m sure there are many whose musical interests were influenced by the explosive fusion of this first Mahavishnu album. Thanks and best wishes.
Yes would love to make a bodysurf movie with sound track!!!
1000 Thank you’s John for all the great art! Please come to Toronto again soon. Love ya.
John est le plus grand guitarist du monde!
Thank you for continuing to release music and continuing to inspire.
Gli anni sembrano non intaccare il tuo genio continua cosi’ grande John.