John McLaughlin – The Heart of Things

John McLaughlin
Gets To “The Heart of Things”
(Verve – 2000)
by Paula Edelstein

John McLaughlin Never settling for less than what exists in his mind’s ear, the great John McLaughlin has presented his eclectic tastes on THE HEART OF THINGS, LIVE IN PARIS, a recording that documents his “live” performance in support of the 1997 Verve studio recording of the same name. Both are as entertaining as the interpretative guitarist and both feature him in very different musical settings performing very different guitar genius. Recorded “live” at the La Cigale Theatre, the CD features tenor and soprano saxophonist Gary Thomas, electric bassist Matthew Garrison, percussionist Victor Williams and awesome drummer Dennis Chambers. Otmaro Ruiz is featured on electric keyboards.

The six compositions on the CD include three originals by John McLaughlin; “Acid Jazz,” “Seven Sisters” and “Fallen Angels” along with a great tribute to the late drummer Tony Williams, “Tony” Gary Thomas’ “The Divide” and “Mother Tongues.” The fusion going down on this live CD makes ever so seductive, wordless sounds and for similar reasons, the spellbinding effect that McLaughlin had on his fans in the 70s is still as potent. His lighting guitar licks come to vivid life as do his sultry rhythmic inventions. The sax work from Gary Thomas is fresh with resonance and Dennis Chambers’ drumming is anything but ordinary. Together with Matthew Garrison’s bass playing, their like- minded rhythm offerings are remarkably extrasensory. Otmaro Ruiz gives off some great synth sounds on “The Divide” and is and excellent replacement for Jim Beard, who appeared on the original release. The band really plays a great set and from the sound of the crowd, we should have all been in Paris that evening!

Writer’s note: McLaughlin’s show at UCLA’s Royce Hall on November 18th was awesome. The set included songs from The Heart of Things and from his REMEMBER SHAKTI – THE BELIEVER CD with the latter being an excellent example of this group’s Indian classic music fused with John McLaughlin’s guitar stylings. If you are fortunate enough to see him with Remember Shakti this time around, then get with it!

Visit John McLaughlin at