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John McLaughlin: Where The Muse Leads

John McLaughlin: Where The Muse Leads

Courtesy Alessio Belloni


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For me, if I don’t pay attention to what my instincts are telling me and follow it, then I’m betraying the music. I’m also betraying the listener and myself too.
—John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin—Miles Davis protégé. Jazz/rock revolutionary. East-meets-West visionary. Acoustic, electric and electronic guitar maestro. Now elder statesman of jazz—what is there left to say?

A lot it seems...

As a septuagenarian who was facing debilitating hand issues—and possibly the end of his playing career—he was starting to say his farewells to touring only a few years ago. Now he seems a man brimming with hope over his miraculous rebound and new musical inspirations—even while addressing the challenges of current crises. And if our conversation showed anything, it's that he is not resting on his laurels. Age notwithstanding, in the thick of all things he is, retiring he is not. It is also plain to see that he is as warm, engaging and humorous as he is talented.

John McLaughlin sat down with All About Jazz in August of 2020 via Skype from his home in Monaco. Our largely free-form conversation touched on the now, the then, and the future, plus had a little time for a few asides and war stories that were too fun not to include...

All About Jazz: It's probably inescapable that most interviews these days are going to start off with this but how have you been making out during the Covid crisis and what has it meant to you as a musician?

John McLaughlin: It's difficult. Every musician has lost all their work. In view of the record industry situation, the only way we can make our living is playing live and that's over right now. We had a really big Summer tour of the European festivals and a short tour of Japan in the Fall and it's all gone. However, we have to adapt. What's really important for musicians is we have to stay in touch with each other and stay in touch with the people who listen to us. So this is 2020, the year of the "big payback" where we do everything for free.

I did a lot [of videos] as an individual in the very beginning of the lockdown. I wanted to attract attention to remind people to really stay healthy because the hospitals at that point in Europe... it was really dramatic. There were so many infected people.

I also did a video with my band The 4th Dimension ["Lockdown Blues"]. I did another one called "Quarantine Blues" with my old comrade in celestial arms Carlos Santana, Narada Michael Walden and Cindy Blackman Santana Santana who I'm very fond of as we've been friends for years. In fact she's got an album coming out very soon that I'm on a couple of tracks.

AAJ: What is it called?

JM: It's called Give The Drummer Some (Copperline, 2020)—and she can have it! (laughs) What a great player. We've been jamming over the years, any time we have the opportunity. You know we [both] hold in great esteem the late, great Tony Williams.

For my part, I have been a fan of Tony since an album came out called Miles in Europe [Columbia, 1964]. That was Tony's first recording with Miles' band. I had been following Miles for about seven or eight years and heard all the great drummers—Philly Joe Jones, Jimmy Cobb... But then Tony, on that album... I was blown away. I mean Miles always blew me away but Tony was outrageous. What he was doing for Miles—provoking him, pushing him... I mean Miles changed his playing when Tony joined the band. I was really lucky to get to play with Tony for a couple years. It was really one of the greatest experiences of my life.

But anyway, Cindy loves Tony as much as I do, so we did a thing together. And Narada Michael Walden, from the Mahavishnu Orchestra days, was involved. I'm a bit worried for him as he's in California right now. [Note: At the time of the interview, wildfires were ravaging the West Coast]. Are you near any of that?

AAJ: No, I'm on the East Coast, in the Philadelphia area.

JM: Oh cool. Philadelphia... That's where I got to meet the one and only Freddie Freeloader. You know, "Freddie Freeloader." You know the song on Miles' Kind of Blue [Columbia, 1959]? (hums the tune)

AAJ: Yeah, of course...

JM: I was with Tony, we were playing a club in Philadelphia and I was at the bar. We were ready to play and this guy comes up to me and says, "You must be John. I'm Freddie, Freddie Freeloader." And I almost fell down. (laughs) I said, "You mean THE Freddie Freeloader?" and he said, "Yes!" And I have to tell you, this guy was an artist because I was making twenty dollars a night back then, and within five minutes, Freddie was smoking one of my cigarettes, I had bought him a drink and he had ten dollars of my money! (laughs) Unbelievable...

AAJ: That's priceless...

JM: But anyway, I just finished a [video] piece that I'm really happy about. Do you know our recent album called Is That So? (Abstract Logix, 2019)? Well we just did a "home" version of one of the songs from that album with Zakir Hussain in California and Shankar Mahadevan in Mumbai. For us, it's so hard not to play so we will find any way we can to stay in touch with the people that listen to us. And right now the only way is with these home sessions. Of course I would prefer to sit with Zakir and Shankar and see them but right now this is the only option. This Covid-19 has put the block on everything.

AAJ: It really has...

JM: So that's coming out and The 4th Dimension has started preparing another piece. But like I say, it's payback time.

AAJ: Well let's talk about Is That So?. It's very different if only for your role on it. You play on it obviously but in effect you're acting as more of a framer or arranger for these songs and melodies.

JM: Well I'm playing some improvisations on the synth guitar. I know some people will say, "Why aren't you playing the guitar" but this album is the direct result of an experiment [that came to mind] when Remember Shakti was on the road with Shankar [Mahadevan] and Zakir about seven or eight years ago.

You know, I go back with Indian culture and music more than 50 years. I have been listening to Indian music and I'm a Western musician. So I was always looking for ways to kind of bend the rules. That's not why I studied Indian music though. I studied both North Indian and South Indian and I was very fortunate to study with the great Ravi Shankar in the 1970s. My guru, Dr. Ramanathan was at Wesleyan University and I was one of his extracurricular students. But as I say, I'm a Western musician and there was always this feeling that harmony was part of my world. And I thought, "Is there a way I can harmonize what is essentially a linear music?"

So fast forward to seven or eight years ago. I told Shankar about this idea and I said, "If you can send me a bhajan"—it's like a devotional song, a love song—and let me try to harmonize it." I had him give me the tanpura, the drone, so I knew what [key] the melody was in, but on a separate track so I could throw it away afterwards.

So this was a daunting task actually because the idea is great but realizing it was much trickier than I thought. In the end, I harmonized it or rather orchestrated it but on a good day I did about a minute a day.

AAJ: Wow, that's diligence.

JM: On a bad day it was nothing or five seconds.

AAJ: So would you characterize this as a sort of stream of consciousness process, one phrase at a time?

JM: Well, first I had to learn the song and his singing so I knew where it was going melodically. Then I would have my guitar and I would listen. I said, " Now this is going to a different place. I don't know where it is but I can hear it." Then eventually I would find it and it would move on like that.

After about a month, I had only finished a couple of minutes but I sent it to Shankar and told him that I was thrilled with the sound of his voice and the orchestrations. I said "Please listen to it." He called me back immediately and said, "This is unreal. I've never heard anything so marvelous. We have to make an album." So, six years later...(laughs). Hey, Shankar is a busy guy. He's one of the kings of Bollywood. He's sold something like 230 million songs or something. I know India has like 1.3 billion people but that's a gigantic percentage. But [Remember] Shakti has been very important to him.

Then about halfway through the orchestrations I called Shankar and I said, "You know, it's beautiful but we need to put some vitality into it. We need to improvise. You're a master improviser and improvisation is the central part to the music that I play. And Zakir is the best tabla player in the world, so let's do it." And so we organized these improvisation sessions that were then integrated into the songs.

So finally it came out. I've had some mixed reactions but I expected that. For one, because I was playing the synth guitar—a sound I might add I've been working on for twenty years—and two, because I wanted something that was more vocal rather than instrumental. And I have to tell you, whether people like it or not, I'm crazy about it. (laughs) And so is Shankar and so is Zakir. We all love it so much. I must have listened to it ten thousand times over the [process of] composing, recording, and rehearsals. Yet still sometimes I'll put it on and play a song and it just trips me out (laughs). It's so amazing. So some people say, "Why didn't you play guitar?" but it's all for the reasons I just gave you.

AAJ: Well your career seems to be littered with instances where everyone expected you to do this and you do that. When you came out with the original Shakti following the Mahavishnu Orchestra comes to mind.

JM: It did cause some... (laughs) I'll never forget, one guy from CBS came to me and he said, (incredulously) "What are you doing?! What are you doing with these Indians?! You've got such a great band and it's so successful... C'mon!" (laughs). I said I was really sorry and I assume the consequences but I have to go where I have to go, musically.

When I think about the Muse—you know, the inspiration behind all music and poetry—in a way, I feel I've been guided by it my entire life. So for me, if I don't pay attention to what my instincts are telling me and follow it, then I'm betraying the music. I'm also betraying the listener and myself too. We lost some listeners I'm sure but we gained some on the other side. In the end, you have to stay true to yourself, as the immortal bard said, right? Then you'll stay true to everyone else—as long as you assume the consequences. (laughs).

And the consequences still exist. Shakti still exists, of course in a different form. Zakir and myself are the only original players. Zakir and I just celebrated our 50th anniversary of friendship—that gives you an indication of how O L D we are. (laughs) He's still playing so great and musically, I've never felt so great. I'm really fortunate. You need your health to play. That's why I like to hike, and bike and swim—to stay healthy. At my tender age, you have to do it or you're in trouble.

AAJ: Speaking of your health, a few years ago when you said farewell to America and toured the States for the last time, one of the factors was supposedly that you were having troubles with your hands, correct?

JM: Yes, I was but miracles happen. It's really amazing. It started in December 2013. I'll never forget it because it was the end of a Shakti tour and I started to develop severe pain in the hands. Basically arthritis and my mother suffered from it so it's hereditary, but it's called AGE... (laughs) Then it was this doctor, that doctor; this treatment, that treatment—I was trying everything. I finally found this Sports [Medicine] doctor here in Monaco and he gave me injections of this hyaluronic acid gel that did really marvelous things. I had an injection every three months and that calmed everything down. The left hand [pain] completely disappeared. The right hand was still problematic though. We went for two years with this [treatment] and eventually the three month mark would arrive and I was still good. The doctor said, "Good, let's just hang on and wait." So I waited till six months to have another injection. Then that was basically it. It's gonna be a year [since the last injection] in September.

The thing is—and this is gonna sound a little loopy maybe—I also read about this American doctor who promotes self-healing. This doctor had hurt himself very badly in a bike accident—broke his back in two or three places—and healed himself. So to make a very long story short, I started talking to my hands. You know I meditate every day and every morning before I go into my deep meditation, I talk to my hands. I tell them how beautiful they are and how grateful I am for everything they have given me—and I really am, they've given me my whole life. So I talk to them and I'm sure this has had an effect. It's not just hocus pocus if you know what I mean.

AAJ: And you derived this technique from this American doctor who healed himself?

JM: Yes. This guy, he [mentally] goes into his own body and this is how he healed himself. Imagine, a spine broken in three places. This guy is amazing.

AAJ: There have been similar stories of healing of this kind through the "mindfulness" practices of Tai Chi and Chi Kung.

JM: But that's exactly what it is, mindfulness. Putting your mind into that part of your body. But me, I talk to my hands because that's my way. It's an expression of how strongly I feel about them.

AAJ: Whatever works, right?

JM: Exactly. If it works, don't knock it.

AAJ: So the hand issue was one of the reasons for mounting a farewell tour of the United States?

JM: It basically was. I thought it was the end of the line.

AAJ: Well, be that as it may, one of the brightest parts of that tour for many people was the unpacking of the Mahavishnu Orchestra repertoire for the first time in decades. What were the reasons that you had never broken that material out and performed it until then?

JM: Well you know, I think basically the reason is that new music keeps coming out of me so the old music gets put in the archives. And it's not like I sit down to write—I never sit down to write music except for doing orchestrations. I have to wait for the music to arrive and when I hear it I say, "Oh man, I have to write this down... now!" I find a way, either write it down or sing it into my phone, because if I don't, I'll lose it. So that's basically why it [didn't] happen. But [playing that Mahavishnu music again], it was a thrill.

There was one other time before that it happened, but it was basically an accident. I go to the Montreux Jazz Festival a lot—even years when I wouldn't be playing—but it's so beautiful there and the hiking is amazing. In those mountains... it's fantastic. So this is going back about 10 or 12 years ago and one of the days we were there biking on the other side of Lake Geneva and I got a call from [festival founder] Claude Nobs. One of the bands got stuck in Montreal, couldn't get a flight and were going to miss the gig. "He said, "John, can you play tonight?" I said, "Play? Sure, but I don't even have a guitar with me." He said, "I have lots of guitars." So I said "I'll call Billy Cobham" who lives in Switzerland. So Billy and I, just the two of us, went onstage that night and played Mahavishnu tunes from memory. (laughs)

AAJ: Wow...

JM: Yeah, it was far out. Very far out because when I think about how much music is in my memory banks and having to get access to it... Billy and I had a warm up just before playing and then off we went. Just the two of us played about an hour set of the old tunes. Oh, it was terrific. So there was that. I know that it's kind of been strange that that music has kind of been put aside as you mentioned, but again, it's really because of new music, new bands, new musical adventures.

But that music is really so much a part of my heart and soul. [To play it again] on that last tour, it was important for me to get [guitarist] Jimmy Herring and his band in on it along with my band the 4th Dimension—to do it for a third set. A double band—two, guitars, two basses, two keyboards, two drums, and he had this great violin player, Jason Crosby in his band too. So it was a nine-piece. All Jimmy wanted to play was Mahavishnu music. (laughs)

AAJ: How did you first hook up with Jimmy Herring?

JM: The only reason I know Jimmy is that [Abstract Logix label head] Souvik Dutta sent me a recording Jimmy did of "Hope," a tune from Birds of Fire (Columbia, 1973) . When we recorded it there were no solos but he did a solo on it. After I heard that I thought "Why didn't I do a solo on that!" (laughs) I had to call him up and tell him how amazing that was. So from that time on, we started to jam. We played together at some events at [luthier] Paul Reed Smith's factory near Baltimore and I really love the way Jimmy plays. He's such a lovely guitarist and what a lovely guy. So when I proposed this [joint tour and Mahavishnu set] to him, he said, "Oh man, Mahavishnu? Let's do it!" So we arranged everything for the double band and it was such a joyful experience to be with those guys. Just beautiful.

AAJ: I have to say, I caught that tour in Philly and there were a lot of goosebump moments.

JM: I was getting goosebumps every night and that's just not normal, if you know what I mean. It was really special and such a great vibe onstage—just heart and soul. We tried to get it together to do something in Europe just last year but it's not easy to organize.

It's really a shame that Jimmy's not known enough in Europe. But you know, you have to come over here and work the clubs to build up your reputation so people will buy your records. Well, people used to buy records. (laughs) But that's pretty much the way it's done here. And the same in America. I mean, when I started playing with Tony and Miles we were just playing in clubs.

AAJ: This is kind of an aside but that whole dynamic changed a bit by the time you were out touring with Mahavishnu in the '70s. You played fewer clubs and were getting paired up with a lot of rock acts in larger venues. That sometimes led to some wonderfully strange double bills.

JM: It certainly did but the promoters were different back then. The rule of the day today is if you're a fusion band, put another fusion band in there. In the '60s and '70s it was like, "Well, what is the almost the diametric opposite of Mahavishnu?" (laughs) [We got paired with] James Taylor or... Aerosmith or... George Carlin... or Cheech and Chong! We'd be on the side of the stage listening to those guys, peeing our pants laughing. But we were playing with all kinds of bands. We did a short tour with the Eagles. That was far out because at the end of the first night, a couple of them came to me with their manager—and I'm one of their biggest fans—and they said, "No, tomorrow we're going to open up and you're gonna close the show." (laughs) I said, "Whatever you want..." (laughs) That's how we finished the tour. I loved that band and those songs too. They're up there with the Beatles for me.

AAJ: Really?

JM: Yeah, yeah. Great songs.The lyrics, there's poetry and meaning. It's hard to find that kind of meaning in songs today. Or is it me? Am I just getting old? (laughs)

AAJ: It's just surprising in that many might think it unusual for a musician like yourself to be into more mainstream rock or pop.

JM: But where would I be without American music? Especially Black American music though. It's been the soul of my life since I was 11 when I first heard Muddy Waters with Little Walter—just acoustic guitar, harp and some bassist. That's where it all started.

Also remember, in the '60s I survived by playing rhythm and blues—Herbie Goins and the Night-Timers, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames. We'd do some nice R&B tunes but then when James Brown came on the scene around '64 or '65, man that was a revelation. The whole concept of funk, with James—even today it's unbelievable. And Bernard Purdie, I got to play with him too.

I remember we did a tour with Jeff Beck's band and Mahavishnu in 1974. That actually was the first time we did two bands on stage. He had Wilbur Bascomb on bass, Pretty Boy Purdie on drums and Max Middleton on keys. I was with Narada Michael Walden, Ralphe Armstrong on bass and Stu Goldberg on keys. So we would each do sets and the third set both bands would be onstage. Imagine Narada Michael Walden and Pretty Boy Purdie playing drums together—it was outrageous!

That was really the inspiration behind what we did with Jimmy Herring and his band in 2017. It was a great bill because, I don't know... guitarists are very dear to me. They're playing my instrument and we're all one big family.

AAJ: Now that you've mentioned the guitar, are you a composer that writes from the instrument or do you write from your head and the guitar just happens to be the vehicle?

JM: The guitar is really the way I write. All of the orchestrations on Is That So came from the guitar. That said, I started my musical life as a pianist and sometimes to develop the orchestrations, the guitar doesn't have the range. So, if necessary I'll use my "refugee" technique on the piano to refine the arrangement. But I can't really write with a keyboard.

AAJ: Throughout your career you've used all manner of guitars—Johnny Smith hollowbodies, solidbody electrics, acoustic guitars, guitar synths, acoustics in tandem with guitar synth. Are you driven by the sounds of these particular instruments or are these sounds in your head that you are trying to replicate?

JM: All I can tell you is that it is love for the guitar. At 11 years old, a guitar came into my hands and I absolutely and totally fell in love with it. I dropped the piano right away and just... well, I slept with the guitar in my bed that night. So I really fell in love with the instrument and it's the same today—when I see a guitar, it's my instrument. It's an extension of my heart, my soul, my mind... it's my life, if not certainly my livelihood. I owe everything to it—the roof over my head, the food I eat—and I'm supremely grateful to the guitar and to music generally.

AAJ: Aside from the last decade with The 4th Dimension, you've had more or less a shifting scope of projects and personnel throughout your career. Do the projects dictate the players you look for or do you hear a musician and say, "I've got to play with them" and the projects are born from that?

JM: It happened with Paco DeLucia. When I first heard him, I was in Paris and I was in somebody's car. And Paco comes on the car radio and I said, "This guy!" It was all really fortunate because I found his agent and got his number from him and Paco happened to be in Paris right when I was there. So we met and we played together that same day—I think it was destiny. So that was one instance where I heard someone and said, "I have to find a way to work with this guy!" and it was amazing, that trio he and I had with Larry Coryell and then Al [DiMeola].

Incidentally, we hopefully have Saturday Night in San Francisco coming out soon...

AAJ: You mean a reissue for the anniversary?

JM: No, the original album was Friday Night in San Francisco (Columbia, 1981). This is Saturday Night..., with different tunes. I just heard a couple of tracks and the recording is pretty amazing and it sounds so fresh, I'm really amazed.

But anyway, back to your question. The other time I heard someone and I knew immediately I had to work with them was with Zakir. I was out in California with Mahavishnu and we were doing a charity show at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion. The boss of CBS at that time, Clive Davis, had asked me about doing the gig with the band. He said it was a lot of different artists but we could choose our own beneficiary. So I chose the Ali Akbar Khan School of Music—I was already into [Indian] meditation, philosophy and the music—and Zakir, who was teaching at the school, came down to LA for the show. It was the first time he had seen me play and Mahavishnu was some hot band then so Zakir was kind of blown away.

Anyway, because Ali Akbar Khan wanted to say thank you for my gesture, the next day I flew with Zakir back up to Northern California and had dinner with him. After the dinner, I happened to have an acoustic guitar—I always took a guitar with me—and Zakir had his tablas. So we're sitting there in front of the great Ali Akbar Khan and, so pretentious, I said [to Zakir] (with faux innocence), "You wanna jam?" (laughs) When I think about it now, I mean...

AAJ: Audacious?

JM: I mean, to sit in front of this unbelievable musician and just spontaneously jam... (shakes head, laughing) The thing is... the jam was amazing! Playing with Zakir [for the first time] was like playing with Tony [Williams] or Billy Cobham, but he was sitting right next to you. It was a beautiful feeling and it was with acoustic guitar. After that, I said to myself, "This is one of the most amazing jam sessions I'll ever have." And Zakir thought it was pretty amazing so it was really only a matter of time [for us to work together]. By 1973 we had gotten together with L. Shankar the violin player and that was the birth of Shakti. And here we are, still kicking. So he was the only other one that I really felt compelled to play with.

AAJ: So other than that, you choose musicians for your projects based on what?

JM: Well, there are players that I really love when I hear them play. And also being able to play with my peers like Chick Corea or Herbie Hancock or Michael Brecker, Steve Gadd, Dennis Chambers, James Genus, Miroslav Vitous... I mean just great musicians but they're like my peers, my colleagues, and my dear friends. To play with them is wonderful.

What's great for me to hear today is to hear the level of the young musicians, which is phenomenal, but there are two problems for me. I'm old school and so I grew up with Art Blakey, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Horace Silver. You know, hard playing jazz in the '60s, especially Coltrane with his quartet and Miles with his quintet. I don't see those kinds of personalities anymore and I miss that. I miss my heroes in a way, you know? I want to see [that].

Now I understand intellectually and I see economically that the situation is very difficult today. People have changed. Jazz has changed. You hear jazz in these bistros and cafes but in a way that's not really jazz to me. There's no blood on the stage—the heart and soul, the things that just grip you. I want to feel the passion that makes me forget who I am, what I am and I'm just taken by the music. That's what I want to hear. And people with their smooth jazz or funky jazz, they're not listening to it, they're talking over it. That's not right.

Another one of the changes that I'm not too happy about is that in some jazz, the drummer sounds like a drum machine. I grew up with drummers [that are] listening to the soloist—kicking them and pushing them. It's interaction and communication. You listen to this smooth jazz—where's the communication? Where's the interaction? I mean spontaneity, that's the whole point.

The main element that is missing is the passion. The quest, the thirst, this fight for freedom through your instrument in the music.

AAJ: You've been instrumental in bending, breaking, and expanding the definitions of jazz. Does anything about the term jazz still mean the same thing to you as when you started?

JM: Principally, the real passion [in the music] I grew up with, that's my school. In all the different forms that I've had, I've put my all, my heart and soul into it. I'm very passionate about music itself. It's how I relate to the universe. It's my real language. Somebody once told me many years ago, "If God exists, then music is the face of God." I like that and it really means something to me.

I feel very deeply for the planet. I feel very deeply for humanity. It's very troubling to see what we're all going though. But I know that music heals—the right music heals. If the music is played with that heart and soul and passion, it's healing music. I know because I've gone onstage sick and I've come off cured, if you know what I mean. For over fifty years the amount of positive feedback I've had, it's unmistakable that whatever I was doing, [it] was the right way—with passion. I would like to see that come back.

AAJ: Is there anyone who inspires you in that way these days? Younger musicians?

JM: Yeah, there are young musicians not only in the West but I hear them coming out of the East too—specifically India. There's a lot of common ground between jazz and Indian music. They are improvisation masters and also masters of rhythm. In jazz, we're all speaking the same language with the exception of harmony. That's really the difference. But there are some great young players. One of the finest young musicians I've heard is a banjo player named Ryan Cavanaugh. Do you know of him?

AAJ: He played with Bill Evans - Saxophone, right?

JM: Yes he played in Bill's band. I'm trying to get him hooked up with different musicians, even musicians from India. I'm trying to help in general because there's a lot of struggling going on...

I'm not on the scene in New York so I'm a little out of it but there's another little band I really like... Knower. They were playing with a lot of deep feeling. They have a good singer too. She's very instrumental in her phrasing. Very nice...

AAJ: In terms of your music and what you might want to do in the future, has the artistic "target"—or what you aim to express or achieve—changed for you at all over the years?

JM: Yes. It's gotten deeper and of course as we continue to live, we continue to grow. But like every record I've made for some years now, I want the next one always to be a testimony of me, my level of awareness and depth of feeling at this moment in time.

What's strange—and I'm not trying to sound dark—but at my age, I've lost a lot of friends, colleagues and family younger than me and I don't know when my number will be up. And yes, I have new music right now and I want to make another record. I'm not sure how to do it, conditions as they are right now. There are travel blocks between the UK and many European countries so presently it's very difficult.

But I do want to make it hopefully by the end of the year. We'll see. Right now I don't know whether to do it with the 4th Dimension or go the way of The Promise [Verve, 1995], with a different band for every tune. I don't know how it's going to work out but it will work out. That I'm confident about because I have to do it. I have this irresistible compulsion like I always do when music is buzzing around in my body.

AAJ: As a parting thought, is there any chance that you might come back to the US again?

JM: Yeah. Hey, I love America, I think more than some Americans. I really do. I certainly know America better than a lot of Americans. As I said, where would I be without American culture and music? So of course I want to come back. But could you do something about that virus please and let me know? (laughs)

AAJ: We'll get right on that. (laughs) John, thank you so much for your time today.

JM: It's been a pleasure.

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