Few tasks are more daunting than picking just ten of a great jazz artist's albums for a library collection. Each record adds in its own way to the appreciation of any artist. But in the case of guitarist John McLaughlin (b. 1942), choosing representative albums is made an even more difficult chore because so many of his records run at odd angles to each other. He seems to change styles so often that just keeping track can be a daunting task.
This set of records spans thirty years and a huge variety of approaches. It's a fine place to start if you're curious about McLaughlin's many angles on improvised music. For more information and options, visit our special feature section devoted to the music of John McLaughlin .
Note: dates listed correspond to the original releases; catalog numbers represent currently available editions.
The Mahavishnu Orchestra came next with its debut album, The Inner Mounting Flame, which rocked both the jazz and popular music worlds. This was McLaughlin's true coming out party.
1976 Shakti with John McLaughlin, Shakti (Sony International 9178)
Shakti introduced yet another John McLaughlin, a musician who had immersed himself into Indian music. This record presented a hybrid of jazz and far eastern modes that literally helped introduce the world music movement.
Coming almost full circle, this Remember Shakti album references the excitement of the Guitar Trio from 20 years earlier, as well as McLaughlin's approach to world music and jazz. It exemplifies how the guitarist continues to strive to incorporate all of his musical knowledge into a fresh outlook.