With his new album To The One (Abstract Logix/Mediastarz), iconic guitarist and composer and 2010 Grammy Winner John McLaughlin looks backwards and forwards simultaneously. The six original songs are hauntingly evocative – with roiling rhythmic swells, modal expanses, and telepathic group interaction echoing the profound influence of John Cotrane’s 1965 spiritual jazz masterpiece A Love Supreme.
Mostly written in July and August of 2009, the music composing To The One was set down in the studio in November and December, with very few overdubs, by McLaughlin’s current performing outfit, the Fourth Dimension: Gary Husband (keyboards, drums), Etienne M’Bappe (electric bass), and Mark Mondesir (drums). Compositional devices clearly inspired by Coltrane are fused with elements of McLaughlin’s own multi-faceted approach, all delivered with a group empathy and shared vision that harkens back to Coltrane’s fearless mid-’60s quartet of Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, and Jimmy Garrison. The effect of Jones’ kaleidoscopic approach to rhythm and drumming is especially felt, brilliantly recast and explored via McLaughlin’s gift for complex metrical structures.
McLaughlin’s restless, enquiring spirit is captured with disarming immediacy on To The One, vividly enhanced by both the skill and soulfulness of the Fourth Dimension. From the surging opener “Discovery” to the gently propulsive title track which closes the compact, forty-minute program, McLaughlin’s own playing is at its very peak: emotional and probing, exploding into flourishes of rapid-fire sixteenth notes one moment, candid and unguardedly vulnerable the next. No slavish imitation or sentimental tribute, To The One is a fiery yet open-hearted work, taking on the artistic and spiritual challenges first offered by Coltrane’s jazz masterpiece while making extensive use of the pioneering musical and technical vocabulary that McLaughlin has honed since the beginning of his storied career.