n a first-of-its-kind jazz music festival in the city, the CounterCulture and VR Bengaluru presents Jazz In The Garden with John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension headlining the festival on November 7. To jazz lovers, McLaughlin needs little introduction.
It was the swinging seventies when he took the global fusion and jazz-rock scene by storm by setting up two of the greatest jazz fusion bands of all time — Mahavishnu Orchestra in 1971, and Shakti in 1975 which featured Indian musicians L Shankar, Zakir Hussain, Vinayakaram TH and Ramnad Raghavan. The blend of jazz with Indian classical melodies and rhythms is something to look forward to at his performance in the city where they will play popular numbers from the 4th Dimension’s latest album Black Light. Fourth Dimension is his latest project featuring the globe’s best musicians Etienne Mbappe on bass, Ranjit Barot on drums and Gary Husband on keyboards and percussion. This is the first time that the band is making an appearance in Bengaluru. The two-day event will also feature other international jazz contemporaries such as Leslie Charles Trio, and composer-producer Dhruv Ghanekar and the talented Kanchan Daniel & The Beards supporting the act.
In a candid conversation McLaughlin takes time from his on-going world tour to talk about the show in Bengaluru, at 73, his zest for music and about his latest album.
At your age, you are still putting up stellar performances, and going on tours. What’s your secret?
I am very lucky to be healthy. Musically I have never felt better. Personally I believe India has had a big hand in helping me age somewhat gracefully. I began doing hatha yoga in the 1960s, and have practised meditation throughout my life, and I’m certain this has helped me stay healthy.
From a career spanning between Mahavishnu Orchestra through to Shakti and Remember Shakti, how has Fourth Dimension shaped your music?
It’s the other way around: it’s the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Shakti, the Three Guitars and everything else that I’ve done that has shaped 4th Dimension. This also includes all the wonderful experiences Ranjit, Gary and Etienne have had also in their lives. When you hear the band, and if you listen closely, you will hear all of those bands inside the music.
What we can expect on this tour?
From our point of view you can expect four musicians whose lives have been dedicated to music, and that’s already something great.
How has India helped shape your music?
India has had a profound effect on me not only musically, but philosophically, intellectually and spiritually. I have been studying your culture for the past 50 years, and it continues to inspire me.
At VR Bengaluru, Whitefield, November 7&8, 7pm, Tickets (Rs 2,299 onwards) on Momoe app.
— Nandini Kumar