John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin, born on January 4, 1942, in Doncaster, England, is a highly influential jazz fusion guitarist and composer. He began playing guitar at the age of 11 and was deeply influenced by jazz, blues, and Indian classical music.

1960s: Early Career and Sessions

McLaughlin's early career involved playing with several British groups and session work. He collaborated with notable artists such as Graham Bond and Brian Auger. In 1969, he moved to New York and began working with jazz luminaries like Miles Davis.

Key Albums and Highlights

"Extrapolation" (1969) McLaughlin's debut album as a leader.

Miles Davis Collaborations Played on seminal albums like "In a Silent Way" (1969) and "Bitches Brew" (1970), which were pivotal in the development of jazz fusion.

John is the guy who played the best ever rhythm guitar improv (IMHO) on “Right Off” from the Miles Davis Jack Johnson Album

1970s: Mahavishnu Orchestra and Breakthrough

In 1971, McLaughlin formed the Mahavishnu Orchestra, a groundbreaking jazz fusion band that combined electric jazz with rock, Indian, and classical influences. I wasn’t keen on the violin in a fusion band (Jean Luc Ponty) but no doubt pushed Fusion forward.

Key Albums and Highlights

  1. "The Inner Mounting Flame" (1971) Mahavishnu Orchestra's debut, featuring intense, complex compositions.
  2. "Birds of Fire" (1973) Another critically acclaimed album, solidifying the band's influence in jazz fusion.

1975-1980: Shakti and Exploration of Indian Music

McLaughlin formed Shakti, an acoustic ensemble blending Indian classical music with jazz. This period marked a deep exploration of Indian rhythms and scales.

Key Albums and Highlights

"Shakti with John McLaughlin" (1976) Debut album of the ensemble, showcasing intricate fusion of jazz and Indian music.

"A Handful of Beauty" (1977) Continued the exploration of Indo-jazz fusion.

1980s-1990s

McLaughlin continued to innovate, collaborating with a wide range of musicians and exploring various musical styles.

Key Albums and Highlights

"Friday Night in San Francisco" (1981) A live album with Al Di Meola and Paco de Lucía, considered one of the greatest guitar albums.

"Trio of Doom" (1979, released 2007) A collaboration with Jaco Pastorius and Tony Williams.

"Que Alegría" (1992) Showcased his acoustic prowess with the John McLaughlin Trio.

“Time remembered” a collection of Bill Evans covers (really good)

“The Promise” (1996) excellent!

“Heart of Things” (1997) another one in my CD collection!

2000s-Present: Continued Innovation

McLaughlin has continued to push musical boundaries, exploring electronic music, revisiting past projects, and forming new ensembles.

Key Albums and Highlights

"Industrial Zen" (2006) A fusion of jazz with electronic elements.

"Now Here This" (2012) With The 4th Dimension, blending fusion, funk, and world music.

"Live at Ronnie Scott's" (2017) A live recording capturing McLaughlin's dynamic performances.

Discography Highlights

Solo Albums "Extrapolation" (1969), "My Goal's Beyond" (1971), "Belo Horizonte" (1981).

With Mahavishnu Orchestra "The Inner Mounting Flame" (1971), "Birds of Fire" (1973), "Visions of the Emerald Beyond" (1975).

With Shakti "Shakti with John McLaughlin" (1976), "Natural Elements" (1977).

Collaborations "Friday Night in San Francisco" (1981), "Thieves and Poets" (2003).

Grammy Awards

Best Jazz Instrumental Album "Miles Beyond" (2002) with the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Best Improvised Jazz Solo Featured on Chick Corea's "Fingerprints" (2001).

Famous Songs and Compositions

"Meeting of the Spirits"

"A Lotus on Irish Streams"

"Joy"

"Follow Your Heart"

Collaborations and Cover Versions

  1. Miles Davis
  2. Carlos Santana
  3. Paco de Lucía
  4. Al Di Meola

Quotes

John McLaughlin on music

Music is a necessity. After food, air, water, and warmth, music is the next necessity of life.

On fusion

Fusion is not a label, it’s a fact. The world we live in is a fusion."

Songs: Right Off, Inner Mounting Flame

Gear: Gibson SG   

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