In Boston jazz circles, acoustic bassist Rick McLaughlin is best known for his work with the Either/Orchestra, a post-bop/avant-garde big band led by saxophonist/arranger Russ Gershon. And that band is an appropriate place for McLaughlin; like Gershon, he is comfortable with both inside and outside improvisation. The flexible, broad-minded bassist has benefited from what jazz musicians call "the tradition"--that is, straightahead acoustic jazz as opposed to avant-garde jazz, smooth jazz or fusion--but he has also been influenced by artists who aren't totally straightahead. McLaughlin, in fact, brings a wide variety of influences to his work; the bassists who have influenced his playing (either directly or indirectly) range from Charlie Haden, Reggie Workman, Dave Holland and Jimmy Garrison to Ron Carter and the late Scott LaFaro (who was best known for playing in pianist Bill Evans' trio).
McLaughlin (who is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music) joined the Either/Orchestra in 1997, and he went on to appear on their albums More Beautiful Than Death, Afro-Cubism and Neo-Modernism (all of which were released on Accurate Records, Gershon's small, Boston-based indie label). McLaughlin has played with the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra extensively, and in the mid- to late ‘90s or early 2000s, he appeared on albums by pianist Pamela Hines, violinist Mimi Rabson, saxophonist Felipe Salles and flutist Hiro Honshuku (among others). Outside the jazz realm, the bassist has played on a few albums by singer/songwriter Sara Wheeler (who has a small following in the adult alternative market). In 2001 and 2002, McLaughlin recorded his first album as a leader, Study of Light, an inside/outside effort that found him forming a trio with pianist Greg Burk and saxman Jeremy Udden (both of whom he knew from the Either/Orchestra). Gershon released Study of Light on Accurate in 2003. ~ Alex Henderson, Rovi