John McLaughlin: Wayne's Way
John McLaughlin (guitar, guitar synthesizer)
Industrial Zen (Verve B0007066-2)
Gary Husband (keyboards), Zakir Hussain (tabla), Tony Grey (bass).
Composed by John McLaughlin.
Recorded: Monaco and other locations, 2005
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
"Wayne's Way" is John McLaughlin's tribute to Wayne Shorter. Dennis Chambers's backbeat and Zakir Hussain's insistent rolling tabla rhythm serve as the song's intro and constant backdrop. Keyboardist Gary Husband adds color while bassist Tony Grey lowers a deep anchor. McLaughlin and Italian saxophonist Ada Rovatti play a unison riff consistent with the spirit of Shorter's being (i.e., somewhat strange but engaging). The music's sound and feel, though not its melody, are similar to McLaughlin's composition "Fallen Angels," which he performed with saxophonist Gary Thomas on The Heart of Things about a decade earlier. Rovatti, a fine player, and McLaughlin take edifying solo turns.
John McLaughlin has put tabla maestro Zakir Hussain and fusion power drummer Dennis Chambers together on several occasions. At midsection here, the two percussionists go into orbit. Their hands, feet and fingers fly so fast, they require no rocket fuel for takeoff. (I once asked Dennis Chambers about this performance with Hussain. He said that they have still not come close to what they are capable of doing together rhythmically. That is a truly scary thought!) As the two masters pound away at terminal velocity, McLaughlin and Rovatti share some dastardly riffs. The guitarist then takes a solo that is part melodic exploration and part rhythmic demonstration. He matches every lightning-quick beat with a note. It is a phenomenal display of musicianship. The opening riffs return in double time and double time again. "Wayne's Way" has reentered the atmosphere. Splashdown!
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky