John McLaughlin: Dear Dalai Lama
Dear Dalai Lama
John McLaughlin (guitar, guitar synthesizer)
Industrial Zen (Verve)
John McLaughlin (guitar, guitar synthesizer),
Shankar Mahadevan (vocals), Ada Rovatti (soprano sax), Dennis Chambers (drums), Zakir Hussain (percussion).
Composed by John McLaughlin.
Recorded: Monaco and various other locales, 2005
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Industrial Zen was John McLaughlin's last studio album for Verve, the once-great jazz label which lost its direction over the years and is now only a shell of its former self. The album received virtually no promotion from the company, which decided to focus its attention and dollars on a more streamlined and mainstream roster. This was too bad. Industrial Zen had some really innovative music.
"Dear Dalai Lama" is an example of the cross-cultural and across-the-barriers music McLaughlin has stressed in the last decade. The tune contains four distinct sections. The opening Eastern-sounding measures are hauntingly beautiful. A deep drone is background as vocalist Shankar Mahadevan makes his plea. He sings part of the upcoming melody. The slow and sad Western melody itself features saxophonist Ada Rovatti and McLaughlin on guitar synthesizer. Percussion masters Zakir Hussain and Dennis Chambers then enter to change the vibe entirely. McLaughlin, still on synth, plays between the accelerated accents. Rovatti follows suit. McLaughlin plugs in his electric guitar, which sounds much like the tone he used in The Heart of Things band. This is not everyone's favorite choice. But he rips away as Chambers and Hussain go nuts. At one point, McLaughlin quotes himself from the much remembered and admired "Phenomenon: Compulsion" on the Johnny McLaughlin – Electric Guitarist album. Suddenly and without warning, the high energy of this churning piece falls away to a meditative excursion from McLaughlin's synth and Rovatti's sax. It is a cosmic cool-down, if you will.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky