What's Hot with Jazz Guitar: John McLaughlin

by Doc Dosco

This week we feature one of the towering jazz guitar influences of our time, John McLaughlin.

Online Bio (courtesy Europe Jazz Network)

One of the most versatile and influential guitarists of our time, John
McLaughlin is known as an extraordinary solo artist, as the leader of
both the group breaking Mahavishnu Orchestra and the revolutionary
indo-jazz group Shakti and as the composer of some of the most stunning
classical Jazz-fusion pieces ever written.

Born in Yorkshire, England, John McLaughlin first began to receive
public attention as a member of Georgie Fame's Blues Flames. He then
joined the Graham Bond Organisation, Brian Auger's Trinity, and in 1968
formed his own band and recorded the prize-winning album
'Extrapolation'. Moving to the USA in 1969, John McLaughlin joined
Lifetime, a group that had great impact on the American Jazz scene. In
addition to Lifetime, McLaughlin worked with Wayne Shorter and was
personally invited to work and record with the legendary Miles Davis.
His desire to make an album displaying the richness and purity of the
acoustic guitar led McLaughlin to join forces with drummer Billy Cobham
and violinist Jerry Goodman. The results were My Goals Beyond, a record
that was acclaimed as one of the best of the early seventies. With
Goodman, Cobham, Rick Laird and Jan Hammer, he then went on to form the
brilliant Jazz fusion group Mahavishnu Orchestra. The group enjoyed
immerse popularity and McLaughlin's striking artistry and passionate led
critics to hail him as "The Guitar Hero". While continuing with
Mahavishnu Orchestra, McLaughlin worked and recorded with many other
artists including Carlos Santana (Love Devotion Surrender) and the
London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Tison Thomas

Due to both his need for constant innovation and a desire to play
acoustic guitar exclusively, McLaughlin formed Shakti. The group was a
unique synthesis of Eastern and Western musical traditions and was
praised throughout the world. Continuing his busy record career,
McLaughlin invited Chick Corea and David Sanborn to record Johnny
McLaughlin Electric Guitarist, Katia Labeque to perform on Music Spoken
Here and then teamed up with fellow guitarists Paco DeLucia and Al Di
Meola for two albums, Passion Grace and Fire and Friday Night in San
Francisco. John McLaughlin appeared with Dexter Gordon and Herbie
Hancock in Bertrand Tavernier's highly acclaimed film "Round Midnight".

Another triumph was the premiere of his Concerto for Guitar and
Orchestra called "Mediterranean". Commissioned by Ernest Fleishman,
executive director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Concerto was
first performed in Los Angeles in November 1985, with McLaughlin as
soloist, and received a standing ovation from the first night audience
and raves from the critics. Further performances took place all over the
world since then and early 1990 the recording of the Concerto was
released on CBS Masterworks (now Sony Classical) with the London
Symphony Orchestra under Michael Tilson Thomas. A second Concerto for
Guitar and Orchestra called "Europa" was commissioned by the Deutsche
Kammerphilharmonie and performed with that fine young orchestra during a
tour that led through all the capitals of Europe. In 1988, parallel to
his more classical oriented activities, John McLaughlin founded a new
Trio with electric bass and percussion, which led to a long and deep
musical friendship with the Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu. The John
McLaughlin Trio toured all over the world for five successive years and
received overwhelming success both of critics and audiences. Two albums
were released Life at the Royal Festival Hall (1990) and Que Allegria

Since 1993 we have seen John McLaughlin tour with a new band The Free
Spirits, again playing electric guitar with Dennis Chambers on drums and
Joey DeFrancesco on Hammond organ. Dennis' solid rhythm, the "earthy"
sound of the Hammond combined with the unique style of McLaughlin ... it
is exciting to hear the essence of all the experiences he has gone
through since the beginning of his career.

Parallel to the working with the new group John McLaughlin released what
he calls a "long dream of recording": Time Remembered, John McLaughlin
Plays Bill Evans. Bill Evans' music played by 6 acoustic guitars, a true
homage to a musicians John admired all his life. To another "hero" of
his, John Coltrane, he dedicated his latest album After the Rain. The
Free Spirits' first album Tokyo Live has been released in April 1994.
After The Rain, a tribute to John Coltrane (feat. Elvin Jones) released
April 1995 (both on Polygram/Verve).

For more info on John Mclaughlin see:

John Mclaughlin Official Website

Tribute site with lots of links...

Doc Dosco is a jazz guitarist, composer and audio consultant living in Los Angeles, CA. His website is located at http://www.docdosco.com , where you can find more information on the 'What's Hot with Jazz Guitar' columns, audio clips of Doc's playing, and many additional features. Doc endorse Heritage Guitars and is a featured artist on their website. He also endorses the new Pignose Valve Tube Amps -- great for jazz (and anything else!)

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