The Heart Of Things by John McLaughlin
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By this 1997 recording, John McLaughlin seemed far from the searing drive and intergalactic quest for Nirvana of his Mahavishnu Orchestra. But was he? Less youthfully optimistic, sure. At its heart, this music projects both mature contemplation and foreboding intensity. McLaughlin remains, undoubtedly, a giant master of supercharged single-note runs. His compositions' structures still emphasize braided interaction among the players, which his outfit here achieves to startling effect. Drummer Dennis Chambers is crucial. His shifting pace, color, and emphasis are charged with an astonishing authority and reserves of muscularity. That permits the band to dart and charge at one moment, then pause to float. In the open spaces, hornman Gary Thomas
is at his anxious best, while keyboard giant Jim Beard grooves delightedly. --Peter Monaghan