John McLaughlin announces new album Is This So?

The album will also feature Shankar Mahadevan and Zakir Hussain.

JohnMcLaughlin has announced his new album, Is This So?, which will also feature Indian composer and singer Shankar Mahadevan alongside Ustad Zakir Hussain. Hussain has been a collaborative partner of McLaughlin’s since the 1970s with Shakti, who are widely regarded as the first crossover East-west musical group.

McLaughlin has revealed the idea for the album first came to him way back in 2013 during a Shakti tour, having been inspired by Shankar Mahadevan’s voice and vocal talents. “Even though I had studied the theory and practice of Indian music for years, I remain a ‘Western’ musician and one aspect of Western music is the magic of harmony,” John revealed.

“From the outset in the early 1970s, I constantly researched the possibilities of integrating harmony into the traditions of North and South India while at the same time keeping as close as possible to the melodic rules of the Raga system. However, the idea I mentioned above, was to abandon the rules of the Raga system completely and apply my own western harmonic liberty to the amazing voice of Shankar Mahadevan.”


Shankar Mahadevan also commented on the forthcoming album, revealing that he and McLaughlin would combine the principles and free improvisations of Indian scales with harmonies commonly associated with Western music. ““The whole texture, color, feeling and the canvas of the music excited us as harmonic content does not exist in Indian classical music. In the beginning, it was just a fun experiment, but it soon became larger than life and we knew we had to record it.

“When Zakir Hussain, the great tabla Maestro himself agreed to play in the improvisational sections we knew this would take our recording to a new level. We could not have asked for more.” Mahadevan said.

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