Marbles – John McLaughlin, Buddy Miles and Carlos Santana

Yesterday I wrote about The Electric Church. I have been thinking more about Buddy Miles‘s discography and playing his recordings on Spotify. “Marbles” is an instrumental recording that Mr. Buddy Miles was involved with on two separate recordings.

I have a passion for the instrumental recording “Marbles” authored by John McLaughlin. Buddy Miles was the session drummer on the vinyl recording Devotion (Douglas Records, 9/70) which introduced “Marbles”. This instrumental is as psychedelic and trippy as the cover below.

Buddy Miles and Carlos Santana shared an affinity for John McLaughlin by performing “Marbles” together for their live concert album,  Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles! Live! ‎ (6/72).



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John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension – The Boston Record

During the summer of 2013, guitar legend John McLaughlin and his trailblazing band The 4th Dimension – Gary Husband on keyboards and drums, Etienne Mbappe on bass, and Ranjit Barot on drums and vocals conduct a rare tour across America. On June 22nd they performed at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

John McLaughlin states, “From time to time, a live record is made that has everything: great collective playing, a terrific audience, fantastic recorded sound, and a wonderful atmosphere. In the new recording of our concert you’ll find all of the above. I’m really happy about this recording.”

This stellar recording will be available on March 18, 2014.

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Paul Reed Smith Contributes Guitar to Metropolitan Museum of Art Music Collection

American guitar maker Paul Reed Smith presented a custom-made electric guitar to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in The Sackler Wing’s Temple of Dendur. This was followed by a demonstration of the instrument by legendary guitarist John McLaughlin.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art houses an encyclopedic collection of musical instruments. We have seen the musical instrument wing on more than one occasion. It is breathtaking in scope and appearance.

Paul Reed Smith makes custom electric guitars for Carlos Santana and other notable musicians.


Santana & McLaughlin – Invitation To Illumination, Live At Montreux

I am psyched to report that the Santana &  McLaughlin, Invitation To Illumination, Live At Montreux 2011 concert will soon be available on DVD. The release date for this video product is August 18, 2013.

This was an historic and spiritual collaboration from two guitarists who deeply respect each other. Their 40+ year friendship has yielded spectacular recorded music that bathes the soul in illuminated light.

The evening was a showcase of supreme musical virtuosity and spirituality and typified the approach of these two great artists. It is certainly a performance not to be missed.

Here is a YouTube video of the selection, “A Life Divine” from their classic 1973 album, Love, Devotion and Surrender to whet your appetite until the full DVD is available.

This recording also features the late Claude Nobs, founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, playing harmonica on the final track.

I always hoped that the Live At Montreux DVD series from Eagle Rock Entertainment would get around to releasing this special concert. Rest assured I am ordering this item as this was a concert I wanted to travel to Montreux, Switzerland attend.


Special Edition eBook 2013: Power, Passion and Beauty – The Story of the Legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra

I am pleased to share with my readership a special edition eBook by friend and renowned music journalist  Walter Kolosky. Walter is the subject matter authority when it comes to John McLaughlin and jazz-rock fusion.

His book, Power, Passion and Beauty explores the evolution of the classic jazz-rock fusion group, The Mahavishnu Orchestra. It is authored with an intense desire that bathes us in the light of its inner mounting flame.

I am a longtime fan of The Mahavishnu Orchestra and John McLaughlin. I was fortunate to see The Mahavishnu Orchestra live in 1973. It just so happens that 1973 is the starting point for Walter’s book as well 🙂

I am enthused that Walter has significantly revised his book to include recent interviews with Chick Corea, Steve Howe and Carlos Santana that are woven throughout the eBook tapestry. I am honored to have played a minor role in connecting Carlos Santana and Walter Kolosky for this valuable eBook.

Walter Kolosky: I thank Ed Jennings for his help in obtaining the interview with Carlos Santana.

I urge you to visit Walter Kolosky’s Website where you can order the eBook edition that best suits the device you read with these days. I also suggest that you view the special slide show that Walter has created to go with the eBook.  I chose the Apple iBooks edition so that I can read it on my iPhone.

What a totally cool and worthwhile music eBook! 🙂

John McLaughlin and The 4th Dimension – Now Here This

John McLaughlin and The 4th Dimension is set to release their next recording, Now Here This , October 18th, 2012 on Abstract-Logix(US).

It has been nearly two years since John McLaughlin released To the One, his highly acclaimed, first studio recording, with The 4th Dimension. We were fortunate to see John McLaughlin and The 4th Dimension perform at The Town Hall in New York City on November 13, 2010.

John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension: To the One

McLaughlin’s latest creative venture with The 4th Dimension, reflects a slight, yet significant, alteration of the dynamic, specifically the recruitment of powerhouse Indian drummer Ranjit Barot. Cameroon-born/Paris-resident bassist Etienne M’Bappe is back from To the One, as is keyboardist/drummer Gary Husband

As John himself simply states, “Now Here This  is the culmination of my life’s work till now.”

Can’t wait to hear these powerful eight tracks that contain the nucleus of Indian music, electric fusion and explosive fire.

Here they are performing live in 2011 for a sell-out crowd in Plaza de la Trinidad, Donosti, Spain who lovingly endures the rain with them 🙂

If you are  interested in a very limited edition (500) numbered , hand signed vinyl release of the new record with maybe a bonus track and possibly a poster or a handwritten chart (printed) from John, sign up here:

Miles Davis – Electric Jazz-Fusion

Cover of "In a Silent Way"
Cover of In a Silent Way

I  should have made this blog post about Miles Davis the first post for the four-part jazz/rock fusion series this week. Miles invented jazz/rock fusion beginning with In A Silent Way in 1969.

My aim with this blog post is to celebrate Miles Davis’s leadership role in forging the electric jazz-fusion genre. It is my favorite Miles period in his evolutionary path.

One definitive work I discovered while researching Miles’s electric period is the book, Miles Beyond: The Electric Explorations of Miles Davis, 1967-1991 by Paul Tingen. It covers Mile’s electric period in-depth. His companion Web site which is chock full of information is here.

I found it interesting as I researched the jazz/rock fusion artists the intersection points with Miles Davis. The Miles Davis school of jazz gave birth to Tony Williams and John McLaughlin, among many others. Miles nurtured a rich, mother vein of talent that he mined and shared with the universe. Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Billy Cobham, Dave Holland, Sonny Sharrock, Bennie Maupin, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, the list of jazz infamous goes on and on…..

John McLaughlin played a key role in Miles Davis’s formation and evolution of electric jazz-fusion. He is featured on In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew, A Tribute To Jack Johnson, Big Fun and On The Corner.

A pivotal point in Miles Davis’s electric jazz/fusion is the Isle of Wight concert that takes place before 600,000+ people in 1970. The largest human gathering of its time, exceeding the population of Woodstock the year before.

Miles Electric, A Different Kind of Blue documents this event on DVD.

The Mahavishnu Orchestra – Jazz Rock/Fusion

The year was 1972. I was moving up from my associate degree at Norwalk Community College to complete my bachelor’s degree at the University of New Haven. It was an exciting time in my life. I enrolled in my junior year classes that fall. Little did I realize that the course I signed up for last-minute, Introduction to Music, would open before me an incredible path of music discovery and direction.

The music teacher started our class by playing sitar in the middle of the room for 30 minutes as he welcomed us to world music and eastern influences. He went on to articulate what he had been taught and experienced as a student himself at Wesleyan University. I was so hooked on what he had to say to us that morning. I decided right then and there that I would minor in music. I took six music classes at UNH, all ably taught by world music professors and alumni of Wesleyan University.

One recording we heard often in my first music class was Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Inner Mounting Flame. The record grew on me as we were permitted uninterrupted, meditative listens during class. I had never heard music so powerfully stated yet so eloquently executed. If it wasn’t for this music class, I may have never discovered jazz rock/fusion at its core from Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Left to right: Jerry Goodman, Jan Hammer, John...
Left to right: Jerry Goodman, Jan Hammer, John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, Rick Laird (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I listen to The Inner Mounting Flame 41 years later, still intrigued by its rich textures, that machine gun guitar from John McLaughlin and the powerful drumming of Billy Cobham. The layered effect of Jerry Goodman on violin, coupled with the driving bass and sharp tones by Jan Hammer. A once in a lifetime collaboration. My favorite song on this recording is, “You Know, You Know”.


The Mahavishnu Orchestra followed The Inner Mounting Flame with Birds of FireI didn’t think it was possible for jazz rock/fusion from The Mahavishnu Orchestra to soar any higher. It took off for the stratosphere on Birds of Fire. I did my college term paper (which I so wish I still had somewhere) on Mahavishnu John McLaughlin. He afforded me a wonderful interview from his Jamaica Queens apartment. We recorded it on high-end reel to reel on a Scully Tape system at the WNHU-FM radio station. Alas that has been lost to me too, sigh.

 Thankfully I saw The Mahavishnu Orchestra live at Staples High School in the summer of 1973. They were very skilful in their concert. I can still visualize John McLaughlin arched to the heavens playing the double neck guitar. I can also see Billy Cobham playing behind his massive plexiglass drum kit.

Spectrum Road

Tony Williams (drummer)
Tony Williams (drummer) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The jazz/rock fusion supergroup Spectrum Road (what a captivating cover graphic!) has furthered the music vision that Tony Williams Lifetime began with Emergency in 1969.

Ever since I discovered the illuminating music of John McLaughlin, I have been exuberant about Tony Williams. I recall writing a term paper for a music course about Mahavishnu John McLaughlin in 1973. I was doing research at CBS Records in NY City when I learned about how formative John McLaughlin’s fusion development was with Tony Williams Lifetime. The power trio of Tony Williams on drums, Larry Young on keyboards and John McLaughlin on guitar laid the foundation for jazz/rock fusion on their seminal recording, Emergency.

It was during John McLaughlin’s tenure with the band that Tony Williams introduced the young guitarist to Miles Davis, who was conducting his own fusion explorations at the time. This introduction led to McLaughlin playing on some of Davis’s most acclaimed and influential albums, including In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew, A Tribute to Jack Johnson, and On the Corner. Davis had a particular influence on the band, as Williams had played in his “Second Great Quintet” with Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Herbie Hancock, and Larry Young would go on to record on Bitches Brew. (Source: wikipedia, Emergency (album)

Jack Bruce joined the Tony Williams Lifetime for their second album, Turn It Over in 1970. It is fitting that Jack Bruce is a member of Spectrum Road today.

File:Cover - devotion.jpgJohn McLaughlin went on to record two recordings with Douglas Records, one of which Devotion took jazz/rock fusion to the electric stratosphere level (Larry Young also played on these sessions, Buddy Miles played drums).  The cosmic track, “Marbles” is a standout piece and a must hear.

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Spectrum Road is more than a Tony Williams Lifetime tribute band. The supergroup consists of Cindy Blackman Santana on drums, Jack Bruce on bass, Vernon Reid on guitar and John Medeski on keyboards. They are ultra-true to the sound and vision of Tony Williams Lifetime. They take his music legacy to a whole new level by building on his catalog and then extending it with their unique collaboration and improvisation.

Santana at Montreux on PBS next month

It is encouraging to know that we will have more live Santana concert footage to savor soon. I have not seen Santana live in concert since September 3, 2010 in Las Vegas. I hope they tour the East Coast of the U.S. in 2012. We have seen Santana live 16 times thus far 🙂

Santana Live at Montreux 2011 will be airing in December 2011 on most PBS stations. Check your local listings at as times may vary. This is a one hour edit of a three-hour show that will be made available on DVD in early 2012. Stay tuned for further details and tune in to PBS!

Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin kicked off the 45th Montreux Festival honoring their 40 year ago collaboration, Love, Devotion and Surrender.

Santana and the Montreux Jazz Festival have a rich, colorful heritage with each other over the decades. Claude Nobs and Carlos Santana have a bond that has produced several unique Santana concert experiences. One of those events was filmed in 2004 for DVD and is entitled Hymns for Peace. It was an all-star celebration to celebrate peace.

Joining the regular Santana band were Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ravi Coltrane, John McLaughlin and Idrissa Diop with further guest appearances through the night from Angelique Kidjo, Barbara Morrison, Patti Austin, Sylver Sharp, Steve Winwood and Nile Roders.

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