An all-star concert celebrating the 30th anniversary of Paul Reed Smith Guitars will host a pair unprecedented firsts, when legendary guitarist, composer, and bandleader John McLaughlin appears as a special guest with Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit at what will be the premier performance by the band’s reunited lineup of Hampton, guitarist Jimmy Herring, bassist Oteil Burbridge, drummer Jeff Sipe, and keyboardist Matt Slocum. The impending collaboration is the culmination of a longstanding mutual admiration that has emerged between Herring and McLaughlin – both of whom endorse Paul Reed Smith instruments – beginning with the immense influence McLaughlin’s pioneering work with Miles Davis and the Mahavishnu Orchestra had on Herring as he was developing his own signature guitar style.
The concert will take place on June 5th at Rams Head Live in Baltimore, Maryland and will also feature the legendary drummer Dennis Chambers and Jeff Beck’s bassist Rhonda Smith as part of The Paul Reed Smith band. “The fact that this group of legendary musicians are going to play on the same stage at our event is extraordinary!,” says Paul Smith. McLaughlin is the first of what will likely be many guests to join the Aquarium Rescue Unit on their upcoming 26th anniversary tour, which kicks off July 29 in Boulder, Colorado. Trailblazers of the now flourishing improvised music/jamband community, the classic lineup of Aquarium Rescue Unit has not performed on stage together since a one-off benefit in 2011. Since their ‘90s heyday, each member of the original lineup has gone on to distinguish themselves as solo artists, as members of Widespread Panic (Herring) and the Allman Brothers (Burbridge), and as collaborators with Phil Lesh, Béla Fleck, Trey Anastasio, and more (Sipe). With dada ringmaster Hampton at the helm, the Aquarium Rescue Unit touches on a vast repository of styles while remaining entirely in the moment. The addition of McLaughlin’s jazz-honed sensibilities to the ARU’s wide-ranging improvisational fervor makes for endless musical possibilities.
Later this fall, McLaughlin will release Black Light – his most personal statement to date. This program of original compositions features the 4th Dimension – “my three favorite musicians,” in McLaughlin’s words: remarkable multi-instrumentalist Gary Husband on keyboards and drums, Etienne Mbappe’s nimble, effervescent electric bass, and the powerhouse drumming of Ranjit Barot. While largely electric, McLaughlin returns to acoustic guitar for the album’s emotional centerpiece – his tribute to his departed friend and collaborator Paco De Lucia, entitled “El Hombre” – and brings forth from the instrument a depth of sadness and admiration beyond words. Following the international release of Black Light, McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension will set out on a world tour, continuing to explore and elaborate upon the album’s genre-defying material.
Paul Reed Smith Guitars is one of the most respected guitar makers in the world and their 30th Anniversary Celebration promises to be one of the most important musical outings for 2015.