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Released 16th July 2021.
Vinyl release delayed.
For more than five decades, John McLaughlin has deployed his peerless guitar technique, compositional gifts, and imagination in service of a deeply personal higher calling, forging a vast legacy unmatched in improvised music. Now as the world reels from the toll of the ongoing viral-induced global lockdown, McLaughlin reflects on both the perils and potential of this challenging moment with 'Liberation Time'.
Characterised by both joy and reflection, 'Liberation Time' finds McLaughlin harnessing his frustrations and redirecting that energy. "The result," he explains in a candid liner note, "was an explosion of music in my mind.".
Unusual for McLaughlin's recent projects, 'Liberation Time' is not the work of one fixed ensemble. With physical proximity no longer a prerequisite, McLaughlin drew upon decades of experience as a bandleader to select musicians best suited to each composition. "That is a choice that can only be made correctly if you know how the musicians play," he explains. "Not just how well they play technically, but how they play intuitively. Only then can you make the right decisions."
"As the Spirit Sings" introduces the album by contrasting churning rhythmic tension (stoked by drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and bassist Sam Burgess) with McLaughlin's soaring guitar figure - all underpinned by Gary Husband's subtle, expansive piano. Knotty post-bop figures form the basis of "Right Here, Right Now, Right On," one of the most jazz-inflected performances McLaughlin has laid down in some time, featuring Nicolas Viccaro (drums), Jerome Regard (bass), Julian Siegel (tenor saxophone), and Oz Ezzeldin (piano).
It is impossible to ignore the profound brotherhood that exists between the members of 4th Dimension - McLaughlin's current ensemble, which includes Husband along with Etienne Mbappe (bass) and Ranjit Barot (drums). They are featured on the soulful "Lockdown Blues," a playful refraction examination of blues tropes first released last summer to benefit the Jazz Foundation of America.