One of fusion's most virtuosic guitar soloists, John McLaughlin placed his blazing speed in the service of a searching spiritual passion that has kept his music evolving and open to new influences. Whether shredding on electric or simmering quietly on acoustic, McLaughlin's intensity and versatility…
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Last week I attended what might have been the greatest concert of my life (at least yet)! Fusion guitar virtuoso John McLaughlin played with a brand new line up with as John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension, in my base city Calcutta. As a guitar player exploring jazz, McLaughlin’s work is like Holy Grail to me and even though this is a fairly new outfit, watching John McLaughlin take the stage in front of my eyes was a feeling of unexplainable exhilaration in itself.
So I waited almost an hour in the queue to get in because apparently the show was sold out (on the bright side I got to see John McLaughlin up close as he was entering the venue and took the chance to fangirl hard). Calcutta doesn’t have many internationally significant concerts in a year and that is why when they do finally happens, the crowd is generally huge. But, even then I had no idea there were so many Jazz fans in the city. The venue – Dalhousie Institute, hosts a Jazz fest every year and those are fairly laid back affairs. When I finally got in, the feeling was unreal.
The line-up for 4th Dimension includes Ranjit Barot on Drums, Etienne M’Bappe on bass and multi-instrumentalist Gary Husband on keyboards. They played an elaborate two hour set featuring songs from the album Black Light. The whole show was marked with extreme dexterity and showmanship on the part of the band (Husband even broke into a drum jam with Barot for a brief moment abandoning his place at the keys) and on the part of McLaughlin himself whose playing included his usual speedy chops and well as some tasty bluesy influences shone through.
Of what was the first leg of the three city tour, I’d say they marked a grand start. The set list included songs like “Panditiji”, “The Creator has a Masterplan” and “Light at the Edge of the World”. A well balance maintained with groovy tracks as well as mellow numbers. They were called back on stage for an encore and McLaughlin signed off by saying “I hope it’s not 10 years before we meet again”, hinting towards his last gig in the city which was a whopping 10 years ago! Well, I believe the audience wouldn’t mind another dose of the fusion goodness real soon. I, on the other hand, would buy my tickets way in advance if I ever have a chance to witness this again!