John McLaughlin & 4th Dimension naturally was one of the names that got me excited when I saw the program of Zorlu Jazz Festival this year. I had the opportunity to listen to this band, which has been playing together for many years, for the first time on the stage and I got into my seat right away. John McLaughlin & 4th Dimension got on the stage shortly after. McLaughlin saluted the audience saying “Hello beautiful Istanbul!” and continued “I always feel at home when I am in Istanbul”. As he introduced the members of 4th Dimension, which consists of Etienne M’Bappe (bass), Ranjit Barot (drums) and Gary Husband (keyboard and drums), it was evident that each and every one of them had a special place in McLaughlin’s heart.
McLaughlin took a keen interest in Indian music for the majority of his life and is an extraordinary guitarist who uses all the musical talents he has extracted from Indian music in his own. Ranjit Barot might have been his most important companion in this endeavour. Rhythmic order was the basis of the musical formation on the stage. The interaction between them was established through the konnakol system, which might be one of the most important systems in Indian music. The band was able to be in the same place at the same time.
After playing Gaza City, the most influential piece in his Black Night album, McLaughlin said “Ji” means “love and respect” in India when he was about to play Abbaji which he dedicated to Alla Rakha. A different kind of energy overtook the concert hall when the piece started. The band backed up Barot’s impresive vocals and enriched the music with the warmth of human voice.
McLaughlin was able to convey the incredible energy inside of him with his unique tone so well, fast at times, calm when necessary, that the audience was almost witnessing moments from his life. The The light show on the back of the stage supported this journey magnificently, changing according to the rhythm and texture of the music. McLaughlin, who was constantly in contact with his friends, utilized every spot on the stage well and never stopped smiling throughout the evening.
Multi-instrumentalist Husband created miracles on both the keyboards and the drums. Barot and Husband’s duo drum solos were incredible. M’bappe showed us that a bassist can be a unique and incredible soloist while shouldering the music firmly.
I felt that the music swept me away and that my mind was a blank while trying to take notes to write this article about this concert which was very special to me. My soul was healed after the concert just like everybody else’s was in the audience thanks to John McLaughlin & 4th Dimension.