The British guitarist John McLaughlin has had a huge influence on jazz and rock history in a number of different ways. First of all, as a member of Miles Davis’s early electric groups from 1969 onwards. Then with the Mahavishnu Orchestra, which – alongside Weather Report and Return to Forever – was the most influential fusion band of the 1970s. And then in the acoustic guitar trio with Al Di Meola and Paco de Lucia (»Friday Night in San Francisco«). And in a very special way with Shakti, a band in which McLaughlin the virtuoso teamed up with top Indian musicians to explore the fusion of east and west.
From that point on, the mega-star famous for playing a double-necked electric guitar, devoted himself to the acoustic guitar, always sitting cross-legged on a rug. His chosen instrument was a custom design with sympathetic strings and a scalloped fretboard, a neck with grooves that give the fingers more latitude to produce the pitch variations characteristic of Indian music. Working closely with the two master percussionists Zakir Hussain and Vikku Vinayakram, as well as the violinist L. Shankar, McLaughlin the improvisor cultivated his growing love for Carnatic music in this 1970s intercultural supergroup.
McLaughlin has been working with Zakir Hussain regularly ever since. In January 2023, the pair are heading off on a world tour to celebrate 50 years of friendship and half a century since Shakti was born. They’ll be doing so in a quintet with the charismatic singer Shankar Mahadevan, the violinist Ganesh Rajagopalan and the frame drum player Selvaganesh Vinayakram. Shakti – the legend lives!