Born: January 4, 1942 Primary Instrument: Guitar
John McLaughlin, also Mahavishnu John McLaughlin, is a jazz fusion guitar player from Doncaster, Yorkshire in England. He came to prominence with the electric group of Miles Davis in the late 1960s, and with other well- known players such as Chick Corea and Tony Williams.
Before moving to the United States, McLaughlin recorded Extrapolation (with Tony Oxley and John Surman) in 1969. The album showcased McLaughlin as a guitarist of great technical virtuosity, power, speed, and inventiveness (such as the ability to play in odd meters).
He moved to the United States in 1969 to join Tony Williams's group Lifetime. He subsequently played with Miles Davis on his landmark albums In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew (which has a track named after him), Big Fun (where he is featured soloist on Go Ahead John) and A Tribute to Jack Johnson. Davis paid tribute to him in the liner notes to Jack Johnson, calling McLaughlin's playing far in. He returned to the Davis band for one recorded night of a week-long club date, which was released as part of the album Live/Evil.
His reputation as a 'first-call' session player grew, resulting in recordings as a side-man with Miroslav Vitous, Larry Coryell, Wayne Shorter, Carla Bley and others.
The Mahavishnu Orchestra, John's 1970s electric band, featured violinist Jerry Goodman (later Jean-Luc Ponty), keyboardist Jan Hammer (later Gayle Moran / Stu Goldberg), bassist Rick Laird (later Ralphe Armstrong), and drummer Billy Cobham (later Narada Michael Walden). The band were respected for their technical virtuosity and complex fusion of eclectic jazz and rock with hints of Eastern/Indian influence.
After the Mahavishnu Orchestra split, McLaughlin worked with the far more low-key, acoustic group Shakti. This group combined Indian music with elements of jazz and thus may be regarded as a pioneer of world music. John was one of the first westerners, if not the first, to attain any acclaim performing Indian music for Indian audiences.
Along with Carlos Santana, McLaughlin was a follower of the guru Sri Chinmoy, and in 1973 they collaborated on an album of devotional songs, Love Devotion Surrender, which included recordings of Coltrane compositions including A Love Supreme.
He has also worked with the jazz composer Carla Bley.
In the early 1980s he teamed up with flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia and Larry Coryell (later replaced by Al Di Meola) as the Guitar Trio, the virtuoso talents of all three musicians equally on display. The Trio re-united in 1996 for a second recording session and a world tour.
In the early 1990s he toured with his trio on the Que Alegria album. The trio consisted of John McLaughlin, Trilok Gurtu and Dominique DiPiazza.
In recent times he has toured with Remember Shakti. In addition to original Shakti member Zakir Hussain, this group has also featured eminent Indian musicians U. Srinivas, V. Selvaganesh, Shivkumar Sharma, and Hariprasad Chaurasia.
His most recent recording projects have been a ballet score, Thieves and Poets, released in 2003 along with arrangements for classical guitar ensemble of favourite jazz standards, and a hard bop/jazz fusion album Industrial Zen, released June 2006.
2007 finds McLaughlin launching his first electric/fusion tour in North America in nearly a decade. He will also be releasing an instructional DVD, The Gateway to Rhythm in collaboration with S. Ganesh Vinayakram, that teaches about the Indian Konokol system of mastering rhythm, his first on the Abstract Logix imprint. A follow-up to Industrial Zen is planned for early 2008.
John McLaughlin/S. Ganesh Vinayakram, The
Gateway To Rhythm (Abstract Logix, 2007) (DVD)
John McLaughlin/Jaco Pastorius/Tony Williams, Trio Of Doom (Legacy, 2007)
John McLaughlin, Industrial Zen (Verve, 2006)
John McLaughlin/Remember Shakti, The Way Of Beauty (Universal France, 2006) (DVD)
John McLaughlin, This Is The Way I Do It (Mediastarz, 2004) (DVD)
John McLaughlin, Thieves And Poets (Verve, 2003)
John McLaughlin/Remember Shakti, Saturday Night In Bombay (Verve, 2001)
John McLaughlin/Remember Shakti, The Believer (Verve, 2000)
John McLaughlin/The Heart Of Things, Live In Paris (Verve, 2000)
John McLaughlin, The Heart Of Things (Verve, 1997)
John McLaughlin, The Promise (Verve, 1995)
John McLaughlin/The Free Spirits, Tokyo Live (Verve, 1993)
John McLaughlin Trio, Live At The Royal Festival Hall (JMT, 1989)
John McLaughlin, Belo Horizonte (Warner Bros., 1981)
John McLaughlin, Electric Guitarist (Columbia, 1978)
John McLaughlin/Shakti, Shakti With John McLaughlin (Columbia, 1976)
John McLaughlin/Mahavishnu Orchestra, Visions Of The Emerald Beyond (Columbia, 1975)
John McLaughlin/Mahavishnu Orchestra, Apocalypse (Columbia, 1974)
Miles Davis, On The Corner (Columbia, 1972)
John McLaughlin/Mahavishnu Orchestra, Birds Of Fire (Columbia, 1972)
John McLaughlin/Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Inner Mounting Flame (Columbia, 1971)
John McLaughlin, My Goal’s Beyond (Ryko, 1970)
Larry Coryell, Spaces (Vanguard, 1970)
Miles Davis, A Tribute To Jack Johnson (Columbia, 1970)
John McLaughlin, Extrapolation (Polydor, 1969)
The Tony Williams Lifetime, Emergency! (Polydor, 1969)
Wayne Shorter, Super Nova (Blue Note, 1969)
Miroslav Vitous, Infinite Search (Atlantic, 1969)
Miles Davis, Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1969)
Miles Davis, In A Silent Way (Columbia, 1969)
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