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.
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