‘Fusion’ music by a legendary guitaristSince the late 1960s, guitarist John McLaughlin has been exploring a variety of musical forms, from jazz and rock to Indian music.
The results of that exploration will be evident on Tuesday, as McLaughlin presents a fusion of Indian music and jazz with his current group, Remember Shakti, at the LG Arts Center.
This is the artist’s second performance in Seoul; in 1997, he performed with flamenco guitarist Paco De Luca and fusion jazz guitarist Al di Meola.
McLaughlin was born in Yorkshire, England, to a musical family. He learned to play the piano, but later switched to guitar because, he says, he was inspired by the blues.
In the early 1970s, McLaughlin led the Mahavishnu Orchestra, a group often described as a rock band that blended the improvisations of jazz. Then, from 1975 to 1978, McLaughlin embraced not only Indian music but also its religion, philosophy and culture, and formed Shakti with Indian musicians.
In 1971, the Mahavishnu Orchestra “broke new boundaries in jazz in terms of volume, brash virtuosity and multifaceted complexity,” according to the Encyclopedia of Popular Music. McLaughlin played a custom-built double-necked electric guitar, and when he played solo, his picking was strong and fast, and highly technical. Guitarist Allan Holdsworth has said that McLaughlin produced jazz no one could imitate.
Later in 1975, McLaughlin surprised the music world by shifting to acoustic guitar and playing Indian music with Shakti, which he formed with Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar and tabla player Zakir Hussain. McLaughlin created what is now considered “world music,” before the concept was even born.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of India’s independence in 1997, McLaughlin created Remember Shakti with three other performers, including original Shakti member Zakir Hussain.
The group’s music is marked by fast guitar picking, Indian themes, and rock and jazz rhythms.
In addition to Hussain on tabla, performers include percussionist V. Selvaganesh and mandolin player U. Srinivas. Shankar Mahadevan does the vocals for songs written by McLaughlin.
Hussain is one of the best-known tabla players in the world, and took part in producing soundtracks for such films as “Little Buddha,” “Saaz” and “Mr. and Mrs. Lyer.” Along with Ravi Shankar, Hussain is credited with spreading the traditional Indian music form called raga worldwide.
by Limb Jae-un
The performance will be at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Ticket prices are from 30,000 won ($29) to 70,000 won. LG Arts Center can be reached from exit 8 of Yeoksam station, line No. 2. For more information, call (02) 2005-0114 or visit www.lgart.com.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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