John McLaughlin | Industrial Zen

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John McLaughlin (g, v, synth prog) with various musicians including Ada Rovatti, Bill Evans (saxes), Gary Husband (ky, d), Hadrien Feraud, Matthew Garrison (b), Dennis Chambers, Mark Mondesir, Vinnie Colaiuta (d), Zakir Hussain (tabla) and Shankar Mahadevan. Rec. 2005
John McLaughlin | Industrial Zen
For over two years in the early 1970s, the Mahavishnu Orchestra lit up the night sky. Everything was played at 500 mph, the volume was turned up to 11 and they changed jazz history. Then suddenly they were gone. Subsequent incarnations of the band were revived in the 1970s and the 1980s, but the energy and edge were no more. Subsequently, McLaughlin excelled at a variety of projects from India to Andulasia and it seemed as if those heady days of the original Mahavishnu were gone forever.

Then, without warning, comes Industrial Zen, and on it McLaughlin flexes his muscles and lets rip some of his most power packed, awe inspiring guitar playing since, well, the original Mahavishnu. But this is no retro affair, McLaughlin brings a variety of influences that have absorbed him over the years to colour the music, opening up new horizons to explore in the future. ‘Dear Dali Lama’ is the album’s key cut; full of passion and shifting moods, the highlight is Rovatti’s saxophone playing and a coruscating trio of McLaughlin, Chambers and Hussain who shift the mood of the piece into overdrive.

The stunning young French electric bass virtuoso excels on ‘For Jaco’ (watch out for him) with Gary Husband also featured on drums and keyboards. Husband is especially sensitive on ‘Wayne’s Way’, a lovely tribute to Wayne Shorter featuring Rovatti, but throughout it is McLaughlin who takes centre stage in one of his most exciting and dangerous  albums in a long while.

Stuart Nicholson