A Conversation with John McLaughlin
JM: Wow. We don't have the first Mahavishnu Orchestra because it wasn't recorded. But the second Mahavishnu is there. There are things with me and Paco [De Lucia]. There are things with Chick [Corea]. There is the One Truth Band with Sonship on drums and T.M. Stevens on bass.
AAJ: The first One Truth Band.
JM: Yes, yes. It is amazing - a great night.
AAJ: Do you know how many CDs there will be in the set?
JM: About 20. [Laughs.] Hey, 30 years is a long time Walter.
AAJ: Releases like these are ?manna from heaven? to your fans just like the recent Miles Davis? Tribute to Jack Johnson box set.
JM: Yeah, how about that. I knew it was Miles? favorite record which blew my mind.
AAJ: Have you heard any of this material?
JM: No, no. I have had no time to do anything. I am very much behind in my own listening.
AAJ: We've really been blessed with all of this McLaughlin music that has come out this year ? and there is more to come.
JM: No, you know what I figure? They?ll wait until I die then all of the...
AAJ: Yes, we will feed on your carcass. That actually brings something up. Fans know that you have a private collection of music. I think much of it is shown on the shelves of your study on the new album cover. I know there is no such thing as having time... but do you have plans to go through that collection and cull material that you deem worthy for release to the public? We know you have this amazing stuff...
JM: I have a concert from Cleveland in 1971. I have to give some type of order to these tapes. I have got Mahavishu I and II and Mahavishnu from 85 or 86. I have great video of the Free Spirits. I just don't know. I don't know who owns the rights for some of these things. Next year...
AAJ: So basically, you are saying you can't make any promises, but you have an interest in trying to do this in the future. Is that fair to say?
JM: Oh, yeah. I mean if I have recordings that are up to par.
AAJ: Thieves and Poets features guitar and orchestra [I Pommeriggi Musicali di Milano] in 3 parts, representing the Old World, the New World and the unification of these musical worlds. You have captured these concepts beautifully. This is especially so in part 3 in which not only are the influences of your own output over the years... but also the influences of others can be heard. While I hear Belo Horizonte, Shakti and a myriad of your own musical periods, I am also reminded, in part 3, of the structure of West Side Story...
JM: It's not intentional. Definitely not intentional. Lennie Bernstein was a great composer. There is one section I know I heard it and I said to myself why does it sound like Bernstein? I don't want to sound like Bernstein. But it came out like that.
AAJ: You have some amazing soloists on Thieves and Poets how did these collaborations come about?
JM: I've known them for quite a long time. I am part of their greatest admirers. I remember seeing Viktoria [Mullova, violinist] play seven or eight years ago. She is absolutely amazing.
AAJ: You've also recorded four stellar standards with the Aighetta Guitar Quartet who you recorded the Bill Evans Tribute album with 10 years ago... "My Foolish Heart" has been in your repertoire for many years...
JM: I like this version though.
AAJ: Yes, it is beautiful. This time around you use less reverb in the recording of these pieces.
JM: Yes, I do. I like that. Maybe as I get older I like less reverb.
AAJ: I would be remiss if I didn't ask about a couple of rumors that are flying around the Internet. John, there is talk that you are going underground for your next record and that you believe that the results will freak people out.
JM: Yes, this is definitely true. This has been buzzing around in my brain for at least three to four years. This is the record where the jazz critics will crucify me.
AAJ: Sometimes that's good...
JM: And they can do it with great pleasure. No, no I am not serious. But I am serious about going and breaking all the forms I've ever used or even invented and take it from square one but from a whole other viewpoint. [With criminal intent in his voice.] I am definitely going underground, Walter.
AAJ: The rumor continues that you will be recording with Carlos [Santana] again. Is that on this record or is that something else?
JM: No, there is one tune (for this album) I wrote for him already that he wants to do. You know we had a great jam last year in Switzerland.
AAJ: Yeah, Dennis Chambers was with him.
JM: Yes. And recently Carlos invited me to play with him on stage through a newspaper article. He asked the reporter to write, "Please, John, come and play with me." It was so sweet. Problem was I was leaving from Nice on Saturday morning and he was playing on Friday night. I just wouldn't be able to come back down to make my plane to Colorado.