I'm a big Mclaughlin fan and I think that anyone who has admired any of his work will fund something to enjoy here. The band are machine-tight, listening and responding to each other with apparent ease. The set features a varied mixture of recent Mclaughlin compositions and some older pieces, there are also quotes from various other Mclaughlin compositions, dotted throughout the improvisational sections, that seasoned listeners will enjoy spotting. Needless to say the band are all amazing musicians and are found on top form here. If I had to criticise I'd have to say that I'm not a fan of the vocals provided on one track by drummer Ranjit Barot, there's nothing technically wrong with his voice, I'm just not convinced the vocals add much to the whole, this is however a minor flaw and Barot's phenomenal drumming is particularly noteworthy in this set. Etienne M'Bappe is given more licence to stretch out here than he has on other 4th Dimension recordings and rises to the occasion with some technically incredible and expressive solos. The recording quality is very high, well balanced across the frequency range which is vital in music as intricate and complex as this. Highly recommended.
Here are a couple of related rules of thumb when it comes to buying music: you can never have too much Miles; you can never have too much McLaughlin. And spanning McLaughlin's career from The Inner Mounting Flame to Now Here This, The Boston Record is all the proof you need.
Even when you see that the opener is Raju, from Floating Point, but also available as live versions on Official Pirate and Five Peace Band, you know that you're in for something new. Señor CS, which on Official Pirate ran to over 10 minutes and on Five Peace Band to 20(!), is here boiled down to an essential two. Hijacked is also a little shorter than on Official Pirate.
Some of the material is relatively new, but You Know, You Know is from 1971, a year before I first saw Mahavishnu at Crystal Palace, Love And Understanding (here relabelled as on its instrumental remake, Abbaji, on Floating Point) was on 1991's Electric Dreams, and Hijacked on Que Alegría , from 1992, and is very, very different from that version.
But it's not all familiar to me, with a couple or three tunes mixed in I hadn't heard before.
Whilst heavily electric, though, The Boston Record does not mark a return to Mahavishnu, much as some of us would like it. For starters, The 4th Dimension has neither Jerry Goodman, the 5th dimension, if you like, nor his substitute. And no twin-necked guitar.
Instead, the four dimensions that do appear produce some great fusion for the 21st century, and at the end McLaughlin is heard saying, tantalisingly, "We're just getting warmed up here"!
This is a first class recording of the final concert of 4th Dimension's 2013 tour at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston MA on 22nd June, and it's a stormer.
At 70 years old, the Doncaster lad is at the top of his game. With the immensely talented combo of Etienne M'Bappe, Ranjit Barot and Gary Husband he has the ideal vehicle to explore latter-day jazz fusion grooves and here delivers a truly awesome performance. Despite the exemplary technical capabilities of these musicians the speed/technique never dominates the proceedings; the music rocks, has a soul, is great fun to listen to and you can actually dance and move to most of it.
The band is tight and obviously enjoys playing together, the musical styles of the four a hand-in-glove fit. More classic pieces (such as the epic set-closer `You know you know' from the Mahavishnu Orchestra days) alternate with newer compositions. Samples from historic McLaughlin numbers are referenced throughout the improvisational sections.
Recording by Sven Hoffman is outstanding, with concert-clarity from all instruments and the balance just right. The album has a very exciting `live' feel, should prove indispensable to jazz fusion fans but will also appeal to anyone who appreciates great music.
A couple of minor gripes: First, Ranjit Barot's occasional energetic vocal contributions don't really add to the music, and it might have been better if he'd stuck to the drumming (especially on `Abbaji'). Second, the CD package has rather dated style, with front cover illustration straight from the 1960s `flower-power' era - though perhaps that's intentional.
For my money `The Boston Record' is every bit as good as classic MO at their best and praise doesn't get any better than that. The fact that John McLaughlin at age 70 is still delivering music of this calibre to live audiences must surely secure his place forever in the pantheon of the all-time greats.
This is just the sort of setting that John McLaughlin shows his best qualities in. The 4th Dimension is as tight knit band of improvising musicians as you could possibly hope to hear. I have long since recognised John McLaughlin as a true master of his art and this album showcases his talents well. If you are a fan then this will certainly not disappoint. There are too few masters of their art around but John McLaughlin remains one of the best.
John McLaughlin is just as vital as ever even after turning 70. And amazingly he has all his speed intact. Although no matter what negative reviewers often have stated, virtuosity is not really the essence of John's playing. It's much more about sprirituality, depth and meaningful musical messages.
With the multi-cultural 4th Dimension he has found the perfect vehicle for his later day musical excursions. Keyboardplayer and drummer Gary Husband with his Zawinul influenced playing. Indian master drummer Ranjit Barot and the extraordinairy Etienne M'Bappe on the bass. If anyone considers fusion/jazz-rock as some kind of dinosaurely music this inspired and vital offering really should turn their mind completely around.
And we even get a track from his classic Mahavishnu days, something John very rarely does in form "You Know You Know".
An excellent live recording by a quartet with more chops than a supermarket. Drummer Ranjit Barot is just completely mind-boggling and the whole performance is very high-energy and dazzlingly exciting if you enjoy this sort of thing. Prog-rock and fusion mix and all the musicians shine. It is now a wonderfully balanced ensemble with each player being absolutely necessary to the sound of the whole. However this music is not really supposed to relax you, more to scoop you up, carry you along and then drop you off breathless and exhausted at the end of the album, which is I suppose what McLaughlin's fierier electric forays have always done. Superhuman.
The best thing JMc has done for some time. JMcs' PRS has proper guitar tones(none of that synth nonsense) and his playing is phenomenal. Ranjit Barots drumming is outstanding and when john and him get going you could be forgiven for thinking your back in the 70s listening to original Mahavisnu orchestra. I can't praise this release highly enough.
I already wrote my review on amazon.com USA however again want to underline the perfect value of this live recording with Gary Husband. John is a legend starting from Graham Bond to his Mahavishnu conversion. Great musician and the fastest guitar speedy gonzales. 4th dimension group is another milestone, Lifetime was my favorite period though...