mercoledì 8 febbraio 2012

Intervista a John McLaughlin

Il sito del quotidiano The Times of India ha pubblicato una bella intervista al chitarrista John McLaughlin, nella quale spiega l'importanza della musica e della cultura indiana nella sua vita e nel suo modo di suonare.

Ecco il testo dell'intervista: 
You founded the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Shakti and Remember Shakti... what drew you to Indian music?
I learned yoga and when I moved to New York, I started doing the exercises with greater concentration. I began to feel the need to improve myself through meditation and that's when I was introduced to Sri Chinmoy.
I asked him about the relationship between music and spiritual consciousness and he told me that what a person does isn't important. What matters is the person's state of consciousness. Whether one was a street cleaner or a musician was less important. If one was a musician seeking enlightenment, one's music would "automatically be a part of it".
Impressed with this answer, I wished to become aware of the divine consciousness. This got me interested in Indian music. The fact that the music came from the same culture, in which yoga developed, drew me to it too. In this respect, I was no different from other Western devotees of Indian religions.
Many of us developed a taste for Indian food, wore Indian clothing and adopted Indian names. I loved Indian music because I perceived it to be an art indivisibly connected to religion. The influence of Indian music proved to have a profound effect on me.
What changes has Remember Shakti been through in terms of sound and what you play today?
Shakti was created in 1970s with Zakir Hussain, L Shankar and Vikkuji. It had its own challenges. Remember Shakti is fairly new. While still playing with my jazz/rock group, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, a name chosen by Sri Chinmoy, I began to take vocal lessons in Indian music as well as lessons with Ravi Shankar. At the end of 1997, I got a call from Zakir inviting me to play with him for a short UK tour.
After that tour with them, I realized how much I missed performing with Zakir, who is the greatest tabla player in the world today. We tried to reform the original Shakti, but were unable to as we could not locate L Shankar and Vikkuji was getting old and did not wish to travel too much. Hence we had to invite flautist Pt Hari Prasad Chaurasia to record the first Remember Shakti Live at the Royal Festival Hall in London with us.
We continued getting together every two to three years, during which the musicians kept changing as each was busy doing something new. Now, we are group of five people with one soul - Zakirji, Mandolin Srinivas, Selva Ganesh, Shankar Mahadevan and myself.
How has it been working with Shankar Mahadevan, U Srinivas and Selva Ganesh?
We are like a family and they are like my kid brothers. Everyone in this group is as much of a music-lover as they are a music-player. It feels like all of us are spiritually connected at the same level. Shankar Mahadevan is a genius. No matter what instrument you play, ask him to sing along and he grasps it so quickly. He has no limits and boundaries. The band improvises a lot. Therefore, even though we're on a tour, playing everyday, it's a new experience each time.
How would you best describe what shape your music has taken today?
I would like to term it as "world music", something that appeals to all.
Do you think it is important as a musician to keep a track of modern and new age music?
Definitely! We are living in a world that is fast changing and we do have to keep up with it. In today's music, there is a lot of improvization that is required and you need to be in touch to know what's going on in the world. I even listen to Bollywood music and I absolutely love it!
In one of your interviews, you mentioned you like qawwalis? Any particular group you've been listening to?
Some of my primary spiritual influences are Karen Armstrong and her affection for the mystic dimension of Islam and the Sufis. I also love the beauty of the Rizwan-Muazzam group's qawwali music and the even better known, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's recordings.
You have collaborated with the likes of Miles Davis, Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma... is there anyone you want to play with today?
I am truly blessed to have played with legends such as these. I would like to play with young and very talented Indian musicians of today. It will not be fair to name one; they are all masters in their own fields.
What will you be playing for Hyderabad?
We band members haven't even met yet. We shall meet two days prior to the tour practice and decide on the basics. But what happens in the actual concert depends on the audience. We like to go along with the flow of the music that the audience enjoys. I am very excited about the tour.

Ecco un video live di John Mclaughlin & Remember Shakti:

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