Listening to the 18-minute musical monologue has been a Thanksgiving tradition among folk music fans for decades.
Legendary jazz guitarist John McLaughlin is known for collaborating with greats including Miles Davis, Tony Williams and Carlos Santana. In 1971, he formed the seminal band the Mahavishnu Orchestra.
He’s now out with a new album, “Now Here This,” his second album with his band John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension.
“I get to play music my whole life … And here I am still playing. Oh, I’m very fortunate.”
Critics are saying it is his best album yet. McLaughlin agrees.
“It’s the most up to date picture of what’s going on inside of me,” he said. “It’s a reminder to myself as well as to everyone else: Now. Here. This. Because it’s not h-e-a-r. It’s h-e-r-e. This moment that we have is really the only moment we can cherish.”
McLaughlin says the members of The 4th Dimension are the most capable musicians he’s played with since Miles Davis and John Coltrane. The 4th Dimension are Gary Husband on piano, Etienne Mbappe on bass and Ranjit Barot on drums.
The musicians come from different musical backgrounds but are all trained in jazz, so they are able to integrate different traditions into a dynamic sound.
For example, jazz drummer Ranjit Barot grew up in India and is capable of integrating jazz traditions with the traditions of North and South Indian music in a way McLaughlin says he has never heard. And when Gary Husband switches from piano to drums, he and Barot can play off one another.
“It’s just marvelous what goes on,” said McLaughlin.
McLaughlin is 71 years old and has not slowed down. He often gets comments about the speed at which he is able to play at his age, which he finds peculiar.
“Nobody ever really says to a saxophone player, ‘Wow, you play fast, man,’” McLaughlin said. “I see [playing fast] as an aspect of the way I hear music and an aspect of the way I articulate what spontaneous thing is going on inside me.”
Although McLaughlin is a celebrated jazz guitarist, he fell in love with music when he was a little boy, when heard the vocal quartet from Beethoven’s Ninth symphony.
“I just got goose bumps all over my body, and it was because of the music,” McLaughlin said. “That experience determined that I would be a musician.”
However, he became a guitarist because he fell in love with the sound of the open D major chord on the instrument.
“It is a happy chord,” McLaughlin said. “I’m a happy guy. I get to play music my whole life, I mean gee. And here I am still playing. Oh, I’m very fortunate.”
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