LIVE: John McLaughlin / Jimmy Herring @ The Egg, 11/2/17

John McLaughlin, Etienne Mbappe and Ranjit Barot
John McLaughlin, Etienne Mbappe and Ranjit Barot

Review by Mark Alexander Hudson
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

The legendary jazz fusion guitarist John McLaughlin has chosen to hang up his touring boots after a stellar career. One of the most influential players of all time, his body of work is testament to a musician who has never stopped exploring & innovating. Just the list of greats he played with before striking out on his own – Miles Davis, Graham Bond, Tony Williams – would ensure his place in any history of the music that we call jazz.

But in the ’70s he then went on to pretty much define and refine the fusion of jazz & rock with the original Mahavishnu Orchestra and also bring world music to the fore with Shakti – his collaboration with Indian classical musicians. Add in the many solo albums he has recorded, covering a bewildering array of other genres, and you have a true renaissance man.

So McLaughlin’s farewell tour of the U.S. is called The Meeting of the Spirits, and for the second date of the tour, it landed at The Egg’s Hart Theatre last Thursday night.

The name of the tour doesn’t just refer to the Mahavishnu song of the same title. This truly is a meeting of musical spirits, as the co-headliner is fellow guitarist Jimmy Herring, a well-regarded soldier in the jam band scene, having served in the trenches with Aquarium Rescue Unit, Phil Lesh, the Other Ones and currently, Widespread Panic.

Herring and his excellent band the Invisible Whip (Jeff Sipe – drums, Matt Slocum – keyboards, Kevin Scott – bass, Jason Crosby – keyboards/violin) opened the evening with a sprightly set of jazz-funk workouts. The jam-and-jazz savvy sold-out crowd greeted their version of the Allman Brothers tune “Les Brers in A Minor,” along with their original compositions, with warm applause.

After a short intermission McLaughlin took the stage with his band 4th Dimension ( Gary Husband – keys/drums, Etienne Mbappe – bass, Ranjit Barot – drums/voice). The set featured more recent pieces from McLaughlin’s solo work, such as “El Hombre Que Sabia,” a tribute to the late guitarist Paco De Lucia, John’s close friend and regular touring companion. Of particular note in a high intensity performance was a drum duet by Husband and Barot that, unlike so many drum solos, did not overstay its welcome.

But if it’s intensity you were looking for, the third set provided it and how! Herring and his band came back on stage to join 4th Dimension, and together the nine musicians tore through a thrilling hour of Mahavishnu material, including classics like the witheringly heavy “Birds of Fire,” the haunted blues of “Miles Beyond,” the “meet you at the end” breakneck chase of “Meeting of the Spirits” and the spiritual majesty of “Eternity’s Breath.” This was what the crowd had come to see, a last chance to witness live a consummate composer share his music of joy and power.

Frankie Cavone’s review & photographs at NYS Music

John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin
Jimmy Herring
Jimmy Herring
Jeff Sipe
Jeff Sipe
Gary Husband and Ranjit Barot
Gary Husband and Ranjit Barot
Etienne Mbappe
Etienne Mbappe
Matt Slocum
Matt Slocum
Kevin Scott and Etienne Mbappe
Kevin Scott and Etienne Mbappe
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  1. Stan Johnson says

    Herring’s choice of “Les Brers in A Minor” was likely a tribute to Gregg Allman and a nod to his brief tenure in the Allman Brothers Band (and at SPAC) after Dickey Betts’ departure and before Warren Haynes returned.

  2. docfrenzy says

    Anyone out there have a set list for the first two sets?

  3. acrellim says

    Found this on the web…

    Set 1 Jimmy Herring

    1. John McLaughlin (Miles Davis cover)
    2. Les Brers in A Minor (The Allman Brothers Band song)
    3. Jungle Book
    4. Trondossa (Aquarium Rescue Unit song)
    5. Jungle Book
    6. 1911
    7. Matt’s Funk
    8. Black Satin (Miles Davis cover)
    9. Scapegoat Blues

    Set 2 John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension

    1. Kiki
    2. Miles Beyond (Mahavishnu Orchestra cover)
    3. Gaza City
    4. El Hombre Que Sabia
    5. Senor C.S.
    6. Echos From Then

    Set 3

    1. Meeting of the Spirits (Mahavishnu Orchestra cover)
    2. Trilogy (Mahavishnu Orchestra cover)
    3. A Lotus on Irish Streams (Mahavishnu Orchestra cover)
    4. Eternity’s Breath(Mahavishnu Orchestra cover)
    5. Birds of Fire (Mahavishnu Orchestra cover)
    6. Earth Ship (Mahavishnu Orchestra cover)
    7. The Dance of Maya (Mahavishnu Orchestra cover)


    8. Be Happy (Mahavishnu Orchestra cover)

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