Ιn the mid-1970's many believed John McLaughlin had committed commercial suicide by abandoning electric instruments and Western sensibilities in favor of an all-acoustic group with Indian musicians. In fact, record sales for this group, Shakti (translates in Sanskrit to "female creative power" or "goddess") were quite disappointing. Sometimes though, a musician has to follow his muse. In this case, McLaughlin was led to create a very fertile groundbreaking group in the form of Shakti. Shakti was really the first band to truly capture the essence of what we now call "World Music." Shakti's dependence on Eastern musical models infused with Western jazz-like improvisation made for an exciting and influential stew.
One doesn't have to look very far into McLaughlin's past to see why such a band would appeal to him. His own inclinations toward Eastern music can be heard on side two of his earlier recording My Goal's Beyond. Certainly, he was influenced even before that outing by the pop mysticism of the times and his own involvement in seeking self-realization through Eastern philosophy, not to mention of course his study of Indian music.
Remember Shakti, formed in the mid 90s, features original Shakti member, tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, one of the most respected musicians in India, U. Srinivas on mandolin, Shankar Mahadevan on vocals and V. Selvaganesh on percussion.
Remember Shakti, just like John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra, is extremely multinational, and multigenerational.
This is reflective, serious East-meets-West music full of truly virtuosic moments and plenty of drama. Above all, this music is good for the soul.
Let's enjoy this unique group in their appearance in Vienne,France on July 2, 2004.
P.S. All videos from my personal collection, posted on various video hosting web sites.
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