John McLaughlin has been considered one of the world’s greatest guitarists since the early 1970’s. When he made his first concert appearance in Thailand early last year, Enlightened Planet posted a retrospective that touched on many of the highlights of his amazing fifty-year career. Even at the age of seventy-three, though, John does not appear to be slowing down… he’s still creating fascinating new music, and touring the world to support it!
Black Light is the third CD that John has produced with his latest group The 4th Dimension. This powerhouse lineup, which rivals even the legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra in it’s virtuosity, includes Gary Husband on keys and drums, Ranjit Barot on drums and voice, and Etienne Mbappe on bass. They build on their experience together to fuse high-intensity electric jazz-rock with spiritual Indian themes, another truly genre-busting outing as you might expect given John’s open-minded and global approach to music. In his notes about the project on his website, John says “All my recordings are personal and reflect what is happening in my interior world, and I’m happy about the way the diverse cultural influences that have impacted on me for so many years are showing themselves on this new album.”
In a recent interview with Alan Bryson that was posted on AllAboutJazz, John explains what he means by the concept “Black Light”:
“Black Light to me is: how am I able to see images in my head, where there’s no light? How does music that I’ve never heard before come into my mind, and I can hear it? Music that has never been played comes into my head, and when I get enough of it I make a record. How is this possible? I haven’t the faintest idea how it happens! And WHY? It’s completely irrational. It’s inexplicable, it has no logic, it has no reference to anything other than it is what it is. How can you classify inspiration in a logical manner? It’s impossible. When we experience the state of inspiration we are not in a normal mind, we are in another kind of mind. I’m convinced that everything is inside of us, inside our consciousness. Remember, you’re talking to an old hippie!”
John confesses that it is sometimes difficult to describe in mere words what he hopes he is better able to express through his music.
“Why do we go see live music? We want that wonderful thing that reminds us that we all belong together. And the music has the power, it has the beauty, to do this, it transforms all of us out of our little world and into the music itself. The whole point of music is that we find a way to transcend ourselves, our mundane little world-self, and find the bigger world that lies inside all of us.
On a good night… there are nights where we [The 4th Dimension] become free, where we are liberated, and we are flying in the music, everybody in a collective sense, and at this point the audience will be flying with us because they’re in the music. I know it happens to me, when the band is flying onstage and I’m flying with them.
Don’t underestimate the ability of the audience to appreciate the music at a very profound level, because they’re all profound, everybody’s profound… they may not have been exposed to profound thoughts but deep inside they are there.
I’m convinced music brings powerful good… it just brings happiness, or joy, or tears, and that’s fine too. But it’s the great unifying power, I’m just delighted to be part of it.”
For more of John’s thoughts on music and inspiration, please take the time to listen to Alan Bryson’s full interview on AllAboutJazz, or on www.talking2musicians.com.
Come out Sunday, November 1st, to Aksra Theatre in Bangkok for John McLaughlin and The 4th Dimension! The Thailand show is part of the wider Asia Tour 2015. Tickets are available for the Bangkok show at ThaiTicketMajor.