One Track Mind: John McLaughlin, “Abbaji” from The Boston Record (2014)

It’s easy enough to focus on the initial dry-ice fluidity that guitarist John McLaughlin brings to this advance track from the forthcoming Boston Record, recorded live at the Berklee College of Music. Instead, take a moment to let Etienne Mbappe’s chocolatey sweet bass line envelop you.

He’s not just providing a foundation for another subsequent rock-inflected run by McLaughlin, not to mention the tasteful addendums of fellow 4th Dimension-ers Gary Husband and Ranjit Barot (the latter of whom adds a gravel-embedded yearning through a subsequent vocal). Mbappe is giving the sensuous journey on “Abbaji” its pulsing blood, its lusty fire.

Drummer Billy Cobham (on the groundbreaking early Mahavishnu Orchestra recordings in the 1970s), or saxophonist John Surman (on 1969′s Extrapolation), positioned themselves as similar foils, creating a fizzy tension that is ultimately released through one of McLaughlin’s tornadic solo excursions. Same here.

Speaking of Mahavishnu, The Boston Record — due March 18, 2014 via Media Starz/Abstract Logix Records — promises a new version of the oft-sampled “You Know, You Know,” from the band’s 1971 debut The Inner Mounting Flame. That’s likely to be worth the price of admission.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has also explored music for publications like USA Today, Gannett News Service, All About Jazz and Popdose for nearly 30 years. Honored as newspaper columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section that was named Top 10 in the nation by the AP in 2006. Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.