John McLaughlin, Shankar Mahadevan, Zakir Hussain
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN – TRAILBLAZING GUITARIST, COMPOSER, SHANKAR MAHADEVAN-INDIA’S FOREMOST MUSIC COMPOSER, SINGER AND TABLA MAESTRO ZAKIR HUSSAIN TO RELEASE GROUNDBREAKING ALBUM
Six years in the making, the album brings together the three visionary musicians in a musical landscape, never explored before.
Six years in the making, Is that So? is one of John McLaughlin’s deepest and most profound musical collaborations with prolific Indian composer and vocalist Shankar Mahadevan. Joining the duo is their life-long friend and musical brother Ustad Zakir Hussain on the tabla, who has been collaborating with John since they founded Shakti in the early ‘70s, acknowledged by most to be the first groundbreaking crossover East-West musical group.
“The idea for this album appeared in my mind early 2013. Shankar and I had been touring with Shakti and I was constantly inspired by his superb voice and gigantic talent. Even though I had studied the theory and practice of Indian music for years, I remain a “Western” musician and one aspect of Western music is the magic of harmony”, says John.
“From the outset in the early 1970’s, I constantly researched the possibilities of integrating harmony into the traditions of North and South India while at the same time keeping as close as possible to the melodic rules of the Raga system. However, the idea I mention above, was to abandon the rules of the Raga system completely and apply my own western harmonic liberty to the amazing voice of Shankar Mahadevan.”
« Before concerts, John and I used to dabble with free improvisations using Indian scales (Ragas) and different harmonies backing them”, says Shankar Mahadevan. “The whole texture, color, feeling and the canvas of the music excited us as harmonic content does not exist in Indian classical music. In the beginning it was just a fun experiment, but it soon became larger than life and we knew we had to record it.
When Zakir Hussain, the great tabla Maestro himself agreed to play in the improvisational sections we knew this would take our recording to a new level. We could not have asked for more.
Is that So? is a a new concept in the meeting of musicians, singers, percussionists and the musical cultures of the East and West and takes us into unexplored musical horizons.
Can I pre order this?
All gratitude to existence for the blessing and healing of music.
And to you talented musicians for playing your part.
Great news! When will it be released?
Thank you! I am really looking forward to this release. Your music is an endless source of inspiration and joy!
Excelente álbum de gran inspiración para todo el que lo escuche con atención y desprendimiento. Un acto creativo que conduce a otros más e insufla de muy buenas energías pacíficas y de elevación espiritual. El sonido y el trabajo de ejecución de McLaughlin marca un nuevo sendero que será el portal para ir a insospechados triunfos de este inagotable instrumento. Que lo compartan quienes creemos que el arte es la mejor vía de plantearnos un mejor futuro y un placentero presente. Gracias John McLaughlin !!
I’m already a bit fed up with some carping negative comments about this stupendous new album on the Amazon UK website. So I posted this comment (pasted below) – hoping at least some of the site visitors will get what I’m saying – and so give this wonderful music a chance. Diversity and flexibility are tremendous virtues – not least in music. So let’s celebrate the amazing diversity of John’s oeuvre, rather than carp because it’s not all the same conveyor-belt quality-controlled populist-fodder. « Keep going ahead, John »!
…The difficulty for someone like John is that once you’ve achieved the heights of Extrapolation, Inner Mounting Flame and My Goal’s Beyond, and captured the musical imagination with those creations, EVERYTHING you subsequently do gets compared (usually unfavourably) with those creations. Any serious reading of J. Krishnamurti will tell you what a wrong move that is if one is open to being open to the new, and to have the possibility of hearing without presuppositions – K’s « choiceless awareness ». Perhaps our task is to first recognise and honour the musical journey John (and any other musician) is on in his life’s journey, and listen to everything with as fresh and innocent an ear and soul as we can. My Kashmiri friend has hardly ever heard of John and certainly doesn’t know his work – and on first listening to this album, she was completely blown away. That’s what I mean by new ears encountering John’s music for the first time. It also speaks to the fact that Western people like me / us will tend to hear and appreciate music in quite narrow tramline-Western ways – again, we need to drop our Western presuppositions and expectations, and surrender to music like this. Then we might have a sporting chance of hearing something entirely new, once we’ve relaxed those expectations. I can’t imagine what it must be like for John when everything he produces gets the response, « But it’s NOT the Mahavishnu Orchestra! ». Not much more to say than this, really. I guess my question is, Can we try listening in a new, open way? – just surrendering, and then seeing what happens. (But I’m under no illusions about how difficult genuine surrendering can be – certainly in Western consciousness and given Modernity’s materialistic mind.)
Richard House, Stroud, UK
Very well said! I couldn’t agree more! I love the risks John has always taken, and he has explored so many genres and always experimented with sound. Every singel album has something surprising and beautiful. – And for those who critize his music, why worry about them? I am sure that John does’t. He knows how selfish and dark the human mind can be. For me, his Spiritual pointings have been a big inspiration, too! (I wish he would share more if those!)
Yes Doctor, this music (for me all of John’s music since I was 18 years old) opens my heart, inspires me and more…I also understand that one cannot « love » or be insensitive. We don’t teach our children to discover, to love, to listen…This album moves me, lifts me up, especially « Sakhi », long life John/Zakir/Shankar
Oui Docteur, cette musique (pour moi toute la musique de John depuis mes 18 ans)ouvre mon cœur, m’inspire et plus…Je comprends aussi qu’on ne puisse « aimer » ou de n’être point sensible. On apprend pas à nos enfants à découvrir, à aimer, à écouter…Cet album me bouleverse, me soulève, en particulier « Sakhi », longue vie John/Zakir/Shankar
No hay palabras para describir esta música, si en algunos de sus trabajos anteriores como son Indutrial Zen y Floating point apuntaban hacia esa mezcla que provoca la fusión los teclados y las guitarras expandiéndose hacia inmensidad del infinito, este disco de alguna forma completa esa trilogía. Si alguna persona quiere volver a escuchar el Mclaughlin de siempre, no lo va encontrar aquí, Is that so, es un álbum esencialmente místico, tal como eran los discos de los 70 pero musicalmente distinto espaciosamente infinito, más cerca de la música hindú que de la fusión acústica de los 80 es mas eléctrico, más cerca de los cánticos de temas como Dear Dalai Lama de Industrial Zen que de las vocalizaciones de la Mahavishnu en su época de gloria, Is that so es un excelente trabajo para quien busca algo mágico lleno de espiritualidad
en tiempos difíciles como son los que estamos viviendo ahora. Solo me queda agradecer al maestro que pone a disposición de todos su último trabajo y nos regala la posibilidad de escuchar esta música del alma en medio de uno los tantos apocalipsis que ha vivido la humanidad.
Victor, Valparaiso, Chile
I have been listening to this album today 23/4/20 in sunny Stirling (Scotland) during this lockdown and trying times for humanity.I am a great fan of your music but this really touched me deeply.A masterpiece.Thank you.
Viva JOHN MCLAUGHLIN !!
Vida longa e muita musica
All I can say is that John and his cohorts, in every configuration, always raises my musical consciousness and appreciation of music’s magic.