In the hierarchy of British jazz & rock musicians, the electrifying guitarist, composer, and bandleader John McLaughlin arguably holds an unassailable position at the very top.
Across dozens of official studio and live recordings encompassing solo albums, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Shakti, and co-headlining group projects, GRAMMY award–winner John McLaughlin has consistently enthralled and surprised with boundary-pushing, genre-defying music. He revolutionized guitar playing with his virtuosic style, carving out one of the most critic-proof and prolific careers in modern times, and was also Miles Davis’s guitarist of choice on epochal albums In a Silent Way, A Tribute to Jack Johnson, Bitches Brew, and Live-Evil.
Drawing on hundreds of sources and interviews with key collaborators, Matt Phillips takes us on an exciting journey through McLaughlin’s entire career: his early years on the London pop scene; his flirtations with the European avant-garde; groundbreaking work with Miles Davis and Tony Williams; electrifying fusion groups The Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti; special projects with the likes of Chick Corea, Sting, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Carlos Santana, and Jeff Beck; hugely popular acoustic collaborations with Paco De Lucia, Larry Coryell, and Al Di Meola; and his 4th Dimension band. This is the first major book to illuminate McLaughlin’s entire output from 1980–2020. Including never-before-seen photographs, it’s a thrilling ride through the life of a master musician.
Matt Phillips has contributed to various magazines including Classic Pop and Jazzwise and won the latter’s inaugural Write Stuff Award for new jazz writing. He was Universal Music’s jazz catalog manager and Jazz FM’s web editor and has written the liner notes for numerous DVDs and CDs including work by Miles Davis, Tony Williams, Billy Cobham, and Maynard Ferguson. He is the author of Level 42: Every Album, Every Song. He lives in London and is the founder of movingtheriver.com and soundsofsurprise.com.
Chapter 1: The Early Years (1942 – 1968)
Chapter 2: 1969-1970
Extrapolation, Miles and Lifetime
Chapter 3: 1970-1973
From Devotion to Between Nothingness & Eternity
Chapter 4: 1974-1979
From Apocalypse to Electric Dreams
Chapter 5: The 1980s
From Friday Night In San Francisco to Paco & John At Montreux
Chapter 6: The 1990s
From The Mediterranean Concerto to Remember Shakti
Chapter 7: The 2000s
From The Heart Of Things Live to Five Peace Band Live
Chapter 8: The 2010s
From To The One to Is That So?
Epilogue: Covid, Liberation Time and John’s Goals Beyond
Selected Online References
Selected Print References
About The Author
With protean guitarist, composer, and bandleader John McLaughlin, a trailblazer in multicultural jazz fusion, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of one of his most lauded groups, Shakti, by touring the world, it’s a true boon to have jazz expert Phillips’ thorough and impassioned chronicle. Phillips covers McLaughlin's ravishingly complex acoustic-guitar techniques and sophisticated electric innovations, along with his diverse influences, compositions, bands, recording sessions, and concerts.... Proceeding album-by-album and portraying the exceptional musicians who worked with McLaughlin, Phillips is the first to fully illuminate “the least-appreciated, least-documented periods” in the extraordinary career of this wondrously free-spirited, prolific, perpetually questing artist.
John McLaughlin is one of a kind. What he has contributed to the world of music will never be duplicated. It’s the reason why a book reflecting on his musical career should be a must-have in every aspiring musician's personal library.
A wonderful insight into a true innovator and colossus of the guitar. I feel blessed to have lived in his time.
For those of us who came of age with Jimi Hendrix, mourned his passing in 1970 and subsequently immersed ourselves in the fusion movement, Phillips’ book is a revelation. A comprehensive and thoroughly researched look at that era through the landmark recordings of guitar avatar John McLaughlin, it traces in great detail his rise through the ranks of London session work in the ‘60s to his place atop the six-string Mt. Olympus. A must-read for guitar aficionados and McLaughlin devotees.
Intriguing and insightful, Matt Phillips’s book promises to be a must-read for jazz and rock enthusiasts, offering a rare glimpse into the life and career of a true musical icon. From McLaughlin’s early days in London to his latest endeavors, this book captures the essence of an artist who has consistently pushed the boundaries of music, leaving an indelible mark on the world of jazz and beyond.
7/6/23, Choice Reviews: This book was highlighted in the Forthcoming Titles in Performing Arts & Mass Media, 2023 list.
Talk Radio Europe: Matt Phillips is interviewed about the book.