Album review. John McLaughlin returns to John Coltrane with six original compositions that are a meditation on the seminal album 'A Love Supreme'.
Release date: April 20th 2010
Availability: CD, MP3 Download
John McLaughlin has had a longstanding empathy with the music of John Coltrane as evidenced by critical points in a recording career that now spans five decades. The 1972 album with Carlos Santana 'Love Devotion and Surrender' features versions of John Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme' and 'Naima'. In 1995 he released the much less well known 'After the Rain' (with Coltrane drummer Elvin Jones and Joey DeFrancesco). This features nine tracks all composed by John Coltrane (or like 'My Favorite Things', strongly associated with him). 'After the Rain' is soon to be featured as one of the 100 greatest jazz albums.
Here with 'To The One', John McLaughlin returns to John Coltrane with six original compositions that are a meditation on the seminal John Coltrane album 'A Love Supreme'. As John McLaughlin has pointed out:
'The sound and feel of this new music took me back to 1965, to when I first heard 'A Love Supreme'. I was 23 years old at that time, and struggling with questions of existence that we all confront sooner or later…. it was a pivotal experience to me. It was so encouraging to me in both my musical and spiritual quests. 'To The One', as an album, is about those two aspects of my life - music and spirituality - crystallized by this recording of Coltrane's, and how A Love Supreme coincided with my search for meaning in life.'
The 4th Dimension band is John McLaughlin (guitar) Gary Husband (keyboards, drums), Etienne M’Bappe (electric bass), and Mark Mondesir (drums). This gives the option of using two drummers, as on 'A Fine Line', and the ability to capture the power of Elvin Jones' approach.
'Discovery' is an exhilarating uptempo opener that sets the scene with edgy virtuosity and characteristic sixteenth note guitar runs. 'Special Beings' is a jazz waltz. 'The Fine Line' starts in a subdued mid tempo, breaking into an uplifting outreach backed by the two drummers. 'Lost And Found' and 'Recovery' develop further textures before the closing title track brings the forty-minute exploration to a more reconciliatory close.
As John McLaughlin states: “For the band to play my tunes is a challenge, and in return, I want them to challenge me. This is part of what jazz is – it’s very interactive. You play with the musicians. You’re not just playing the notes.'
Since his first explosive entry onto the jazz scene in 1969 with 'Extrapolation' and the invitation the same year to join Miles Davis on 'In A Silent Way,' and 'Bitches Brew', John McLaughlin has been at the forefront of innovation on jazz guitar. Forty years later, 'To The One' continues that remarkable creativity.
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