The first to make any kind of coherent assimilation of the Jimi Hendrix guitar aesthetic, McLaughlin is underrated even today for his concurrent abilitybest showcased in the 1970s-era Mahavishnu Orchestrato use his backing group not as a typical head-solo jazz amalgam but as a layered, orchestral unit. They didn't stand there riffing beside one another, in the now staid tradition, but rather often playing as a combined force.
[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Another standout moment on 'Abstract Logix Live 2010' includes Lenny White's scalding update of Joe Henderson's Gazelle."]
Recovery" quickly reacquaints us with both things, showing McLaughlin as both furious improviser and heady conductor. Appearing with his current working unit the 4th Dimension (bassist Etienne M'Bappe, keyboardist/drummer Gary Husband, drummer Mark Mondesier) and tabla player Zakir Hussain, a world-music legend, at the New Universe Festival last November in Raleigh, North Carolina, McLaughlin doesn't radically alter this key track from last year's return-to-form record To The One. He doesn't need to. Instead, McLaughlin continues to move forcefully away from a period in the 1980s and 1990s that saw him lose momentum through a series of uneven acoustic efforts and a sometimes empty exoticism.
If you forgot just how good McLaughlin was (and is), here's a energetic reminder.