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New John McLaughlin interview

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1 New John McLaughlin interview on Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:44 am

Here's part 1 of 4 published today by a favorite facebook friend, Bill Kopp, who tells me John talks about Billy:

And some music to go with the interview, a nice digital transfer from vinyl:

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2 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:57 am

part 2 published today:

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3 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Fri Jun 07, 2013 8:21 pm

I miss John's unique gift for beautiful melody.

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4 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Fri Jun 14, 2013 9:00 am

Parts 3 and 4 of the interview are up .  .  . and here's a great 2012 video production. Tonight, they play Bonnaroo.

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5 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Sun Jun 16, 2013 12:59 pm

Just can't seem to get behind John's music these days. scratch

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6 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Tue Jun 18, 2013 6:38 am

I know it seems heresy here, but I have never been into his tone. His acoustic playing is marvelous, but I just can't get into his electric stuff. Even with MO his tone was always so raw and distorted. It always seemed odd to me to hear the clarity of Goodman, Hammer, and Laird and listen to McG's distortion. I suppose it would be said his tone is what made MO the 'greatest rock band' that ever existed, as some believe.

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7 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Tue Jun 18, 2013 3:02 pm

Agreed, Asaph.  I could never get through an entire MO album
in one sitting for the very reason you just mentioned, John's tone.
I really dug the band's concepts, Compositions and arrangements
but that guitar tone just killed it for me.  And yes, John is a
wonderful acoustic player.  I thinks he's a very good electric
player as well but again the tone issue along with this now
seemingly obsession with speed is a bit of a turn off for me.

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8 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Tue Jun 18, 2013 5:34 pm

I'm not crazy for his latter-day electric guitar sound (he doesn't use a stage amp live, opting for the house PA to amplify his heavily processed guitar), however I love his sound w/MahavOrch and all of his acoustic work (e.g., My Goal's Beyond, Poets and Thieves).  What I really miss (as I said earlier) are his melodic and harmonic gifts.  The 4th Dimension ensemble is heavy on chops without benefit of a beautiful melody/harmony to frame it.

But who am I to say what this great maestro should be doing, anyway.

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9 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Tue Jun 18, 2013 8:30 pm

I don't think anyone is saying what or how John should
be playing, PLee.  We simply express our likes and dislikes
is all.  Nothing's right, wrong or written in stone. 

Just personal opinions expressed openly.  You're all good
with John's tone and that's a great thing as it concerns
you and all who shares your opinion.  Me or anyone else
not liking it doesn't make it a bad thing.  It just doesn't
work for us particulars... 

Folks and strokes.

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10 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:22 am

Maybe I'm getting old, or more probable the music I've been recording for the last year and a half, but for some reason I just can't get into the fretboard fireworks anymore. Just a bunch of scales that say so little to me when it comes to music. The solos seem nothing more than notes with no regard for melody. How many ways can you scramble seven basic notes? I don't expect jazz to be pop, but at least play a solo that has some melody to it which can be followed by the ear and heart. McG has been playing blazing note solos for decades. I just can't get into any of it anymore, as talented as all these guitarists and keyboardists, etc. are. It's always been one of the reasons I could never get into horn solos. Guys just blowing out notes as fast as they can. Brass chaos is all it ever sounded to me.

Of course, the same thing can be said for drum solos too, which are just scattered flurries of notes with no rhythmic sense to them. I get the speed, and the whole chops thing. It has it's place. But after awhile it just seems like noise or someone dropping a drum set down a flight of stairs. I don't hear percussive rhythm or music. I just see and hear notes scattered all over the place.

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11 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Wed Jun 19, 2013 2:09 pm

Asaph,  I thought you might enjoy this. It's a documentary
of my all-time favorite guitarist, Wes Montgomery. Narrated
by Nancy Wilson, it's a four part series of his music story and

Wes' notational phrasing was unmatched in my opinion.  As
a young kid I studied Wes' work with in-depth vigor.  I
used to put on the Album " California Dreaming and play
to every track on the album back in the late 60's early 70's.

When you have the time check this series out and while your
at it take a good listen to a true musical genius at work.

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12 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:23 pm

" />" />
" />

    Interesting to see all the disparaging opinions about John's compositions and his tone.  Of course you are all entitled to your opinions.  And of course as far as I'm concerned, my opinion is totally different.

    I guess I'm a little biased as I go to actually see these bands play instead of basing my opinion on recordings or youtube videos which I think a lot of you guys do.   But again,  I'm very fortunate  to live in a place where musicians like to play.

    I could tell you about the amazing two sets I saw last night at the Blue Note.   How the band was on fire ,  dissecting time and delivering beauty and emotion from the stage.  But you guys will likely disagree with that.

    I might even mention that they played  You Know , You Know in the second set,  which was kind of a nod to longtime New York  M.O. fans as this is likely John's last tour ever.

    Or I could speak about how nice and friendly and humble everyone is in the band and how I was blessed to meet the great Zakir Hussain  and Shankar M. from Shakti who surprised John by showing up for the second set.

     Possibly I could say that Ranjit bestowed his sticks on me for my collection as he was leaving the stage.

     Or I could simply say that this band is one of the very best out there right now.   Period.  

     Peace,  TED

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13 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:38 am

Glad you had a good time, Ted.  Personally I don't disagree with
anything you have to say as it pertains to you on a personal
level.  And just so you know, I went to see the Mahavishnu
Band with Danny Gottlieb, Jonas Hellborg, Bill Evans and Mitchell
Foreman.  And though the concert didn't do a whole lot for me
personally, I thought the guys did well.  I even have the album

I know that in your eyes, J.M. can do no wrong but try not to take
the opinions of others regarding him so personal.

And just because you have a group of nice guys out there that are
humble and gives you sticks doesn't mean they can play.  This is
not a debate or an opinion toward anyone's character.

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14 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:19 am

Amen to that, Don. No disparaging remarks of anyone's character or motives. Just comments about personal taste in music, what is music, and how players effect us musically. I can appreciate Allan Holdsworth's talents 24/7, but his sound and solos drive me crazy. That's just me. I have just grown tired of guitar solos that present blazing scale work with little melodic content to them. The players of these solos may display tons of passion, may be the most humble and gracious people on the planet, but that doesn't change what their electric guitars sound like, or the fact a key signature is what it is. There's only just so many ways you can scramble 7 basic single notes. I'd rather hear chord solos by keys and guitars.

Ranjit is a terrific drummer. I love watching him. Same with Gary Husband, for that matter. I have just grown tired of fusion's and jazz' altar to soloists, I guess. It just doesn't move me anymore. I'd rather hear more music and compositions with no solos. That's just where I'm at these days.

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15 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:41 am

Don, I've always loved the sound of hollow bodies. I've heard very little of Wes Montgomery's music. Just things in passing on jazz radio while driving along the highways.

Might you suggest some recordings of his I can get?

About ten minutes into the vid there's a quote from Montgomery about Charlie Christian's playing - how he said so much on recordings. I am a lover of live recordings and concerts. I see very few because of my location, but I've always preferred live albums to studio ones. That being said I do believe it is fair to say a guitarist's sound on a studio recording is a valid statement of what they do live. You might not see their hands or face while they play, but you can hear what they do. Video increases that exposure. In the case of McGlaughlin, having seen him live and heard many recordings pre, during, and post MO, I just don't like the sounds he produces, or many of his solos which, for me, lack melodic flow and content. Sorry. Just me.

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16 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:18 am

It's highly inaccurate to label this discussion as disparaging of John's more recent exploits instead of what it is, namely, an exploration of how much or little his latter-day music MOVES a particular person.

There is no obligation to be moved, even on the part of those who respect and love John and many of his musical colleagues.

Having seen John since 1972 in different settings be it MahavOrch I & II, Shakti, One Truth, Acoustic Trios, The Promise, Trio w/Dennis Chambers and Joey DiFrancesco or 4th Dimension to name a few, I speak from personal live observation.

Learn the difference.  He doesn't want to be worshipped.

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17 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:51 pm

Well said, PLee,  Though in all honesty
I like John's music from the compositional
platform.  Old and new. 

Outside of his acoustic work, I just never
really cared for his contribution to it as a
player.  But like Asaph said: "That's just me."

Asaph,  I love it when players flex their musical
muscles, go for it and just will  let-er-rip.  For
me it's a fun aspect of playing that I think has it's
place in certain situations.  I just don't want to hear
that during an entire concert or throughout an entire

Now I really don't mean to pick on John, but Don
Caruth, the guitarist in the Joint Chiefs Band went
to see the "Five Piece Band" featuring John McLaughlin,
Chick Corea, Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett and
Vinnie Colaiuta.  speaking from a guitarists perspective
he said the first 3 tunes or so were cool but the fast
scale running solos by John song after song, soon grew
tiresome and he wound up leaving before the show was

I have trained myself not to be biased about ANYONE,
no matter how much I like them.  I think that in your
eyes, Ted there will never be a band that you will come
to love more than the M.O.  No band will ever be better
in your mind even if it were to be so, because I feel this
is something you've already decided for yourself.

For guys like you and Walter, the top gun buck stops at
the Mahavishnu Orchestra.  Period!

Hi, Asaph, again....  I love Allan Holdsworth's playing and
I hear him as a very melodic soloist.  And his tone is all
his own with extremely crisp and clean notation.  I think
melodically he just does it too fast for us to hum to it. Surprised

Admittedly however, I've been to one of his concerts where
he nearly cleared a packed house.  People just weren't feeling
it. Tough night for him on that one.

As to Wes, in my opinion just about any record you choose from
is going to be good. Being his popular career only lasted 9 years.
He died at the age of 45 of a sudden heart attack at the peak of
his success.  I don't know how much you're into jazz.  But if you're
like me where you like those particular kinds of solos that you can
actually memorize and hum, then Wes is your man. 

Below is a very cool tune and album by the same namesake.  below
that, listen to his version of "Sunny" off of the "California Dreaming" album.

Here's one more: A (youtube mix)  Not a bunch flash, just some plain
old beautiful playing.


Last edited by D. Slam on Thu Jun 20, 2013 3:48 pm; edited 1 time in total

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18 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Thu Jun 20, 2013 3:20 pm

Speaking of Holdsworth, I saw him with Tony Williams Lifetime at The Quiet Knight in Chicago circa '75(?).

Now that was a muthafucka' of a powerful, (incredibly) loud, tight band with chops, compositions and harmony that fascinates me to this day.

That was the band that recorded Believe It and Million Dollar Legs.  Tried to talk with Tony afterwards and he smiled (through his cigar) only when I said that perhaps I should try my questions another day.  Yellow Gretsch burned into my memory.

Right up there with MahavOrch at Lisner Hall in D.C. around October '72 and later at Constitution Hall in December of '73 just before they disbanded.  Clear Fibes burned into my memory.

Now that was a muthafucka' of a powerful, (incredibly) loud, tight band with chops, compositions and harmony that fascinates me to this day.


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19 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Thu Jun 20, 2013 3:39 pm

Yep,  I'm a big fan of Allan's.  Some of the most
beautiful guitar chord structures I've ever heard.

"Devil take the hindmost." "Letters of Marque." "Red Alert."

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20 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:38 pm


      When I hear a band live that tops the first M.O.  I will be sure to let everyone know....  However,  that has not happened yet.  Some bands have been close -  Yes,   RTF with Al D.  ,   Weather Report with Jaco ,  Phish ,  Paul McCartney ,  Five Peace Band ,   I would say the Miles Davis Quintet( though I only saw Miles live once and that was the Mike Stern agregation.) come to mind.    Because for me,  the ultimate judgment I give to a band is based on the live experience.  I certainly can appreciate the skill and effort that goes into making a perfect album like Sgt. Pepper,  or  Romantic Warrior .  I know all of you have your own standards for judging bands and that's cool .  that's why we have discussions.  To say that I have already decided in my mind is a bit unfair to me. And especially since many of you were not fortunate enough to see the M. O. 1  live.   I emphasize M.O. 1, which is the original band with Boomer because the later versions were not up to their level  IMHO.  

      To P.Lee,  brother I don't worship anyone except my Lord and savior Jesus Christ.....  I do love John mcLaughlin's playing , his compositonal ability and the music he created.  And yes, he's been very warm and down to earth to speak with on the 5 occasions I've met him.  There are some musicians who won't give their fans the time of day. He is not one of them.   Tony williams suffered from serious depression - too bad he didn't have the time of day to speak with you. I do collect M.O. stuff because they are my favorite band and Boomer is my favorite drummer.

      Don are you aware that Rick Laird played bass with Wes Montgomery for awhile ? 

      Back to McLaughlin -  the only guitar work I don't like from him is when he used that guitar synth which made his guitar sound like either a keyboard or a horn.  That started with the album Mahavishnu with Bill Evans that you spoke about.  Boomer played on the record but Danny Gottlieb did the tour, which you saw Don .  Billy told the story in Downbeat so I won't repeat it here,  but I boycotted those shows and wouldn't go see them because of what happened.  that's the only thing I could control - my patronage at a show.   I bought the album,  but would not see them when they played the Bottom Line in NY. That's just me.  I didn't care for john's stuff for a number of years but I've been very happy with the several versions of the 4th Dimension.   The current line-up is probably the best.

  As I said in the beginning of my last post you guys are entitle to your opinions and I to mine ............. even if you're all wrong !!lol!

  Peace,  TED

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21 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:30 pm

Sorry, Teddy B.  Don't mean to be unfair... It just happens to be
my own personal belief that you're just not going to find a better
band and even if you do you won't allow it to register.  I'm sorry
and I really don't mean to be unfair but those are my honest
feelings and I believe you to be that biased in MO's regard.
But so what?!  My opinion is only that, not law.

No, I didn't know that Rick played with Wes.

I agree with you in that live performance tells the ultimate tale.
I've always said that I believe live performance to be THE ultimate
adventure for any performer.  You only have one shot to get it right
and there's nothing like putting one's self to play on the edge like
that.  There's nothing like it to compare.  I have the Live MO album
"From nothingness to eternity" and I thought the band killed it there
in Central Park!  Again there was the issue with John's tone.  But
conceptually I thought they knocked it out of the park (pun intended).

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22 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:58 pm

I love the shit out of John's MO Live In Central Park album.  His tone is a metaphor for the entire ensemble.  I also love Inner Worlds and his use of the 360 Systems Frequency Shifter.  Now that's processing I like.

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23 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:17 pm

Well,  I was there at Central Park for one of the two nights which was my third, and unfortunately, my last M.O. concert. I happened to be home on leave from the service, so the fact that I was able to see them was lucky in itself. Not bad for the $2 orchestra price.

    I too loved John's tone from that time but of course he was playing the Rex Bogue then which also contributed to the tone.

    Inner Worlds -  I liked Stu Goldberg a lot on that album  but this was the firts use of the synthisized guitar by John .  I tried to embrace it as I know he was just trying to stretch as an artist,  but I found it hard. Just to be able to play that thing was a chore in itself as the sound did not appear when you hit the strings, because there was a very slight delay between plucking and hearing it. So in order to play a note in time with everyone else in the song, John had to pluck the note slightly ahead of where he wanted it in order to compensate for the delay.  I found that amazing and give him a lot of credit for trying something like that. But he continued with the synth thing after that for a while which was when I didn't listen to him as much.

Peace,  TED

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24 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:14 am

Well, all I can say is whoever likes or dislikes John's playing,
tone or whatever the case may be, there is no denying he
has left and is still leaving a powerful and positive impact in
the ART of music as well as the industry.  And that's the real

You don't have to like someone to recognize and appreciate
one's contribution.  Regardless what my personal feelings and
opinions are, John McLaughlin has built a musical legacy that
can NEVER be argued debated or disputed.  And you can
without a doubt put a 'period' at the end of that one for sure.

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25 Re: New John McLaughlin interview on Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:25 am

John is on the musical Mt. Rushmore.

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