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Shakti’s Timeless Fusion: ‘This Moment’ Album Rekindles East-West Musical Magic

todayNovember 10, 2023 1

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Shakti (John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain, Shankar Mahadevan, V.Selvaganesh, Ganesh Rajagopalan) – This Moment (Abstract Logix, 2023)

Shakti, the remarkable musical collaboration of John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain, Shankar Mahadevan, V.Selvaganesh, and Ganesh Rajagopalan, has been an enduring foundation of what is now celebrated as world music or world fusion. Their visionary and virtuosic amalgamation of Eastern and Western musical traditions has ignited the creativity of musicians worldwide, inspiring them to explore previously unimaginable sonic hybrids.

Born out of the deep musical and spiritual connection between the revolutionary British guitarist and bandleader, John McLaughlin, and the master Indian percussionist, Zakir Hussain, Shakti’s soulful and organic intermingling of musical worlds has been transformational for both its members and its global audience.

Half a century after their informal conversations and jam sessions brought the band to life, their music continues to resonate and evolve. This Moment, Shakti’s first studio album in over 45 years, is a testament to their enduring artistry and musical partnership.

Featuring McLaughlin on guitar and guitar synth; Hussain on tabla; vocalist Shankar Mahadevan; violinist Ganesh Rajagopalan; and percussionist Selvaganesh Vinayakram, the current iteration of Shakti is a dynamic collective, defined by their exquisite interplay, dazzling unison passages, masterful improvisations, and the remarkable ability to bridge a vast array of global traditions.

Despite the significant gap in their studio recordings, Shakti has persistently remained a “live” band, releasing several concert recordings. McLaughlin acknowledges the challenges of studio recordings due to geographical distances and individual careers but rallied the band members to use modern recording technology to create This Moment. Recorded and mixed across the United States, Monaco, India, and Great Britain, the album retains a remarkable cohesion, reflecting the deep bond shared by the musicians.

The outstanding compositions on This Moment are a journey through connected movements, presenting various vocal and instrumental subgroups within Shakti. The music seamlessly transitions between stretched thematic statements, riveting solos by McLaughlin and Rajagopalan, invigorating rhythmic shifts, and soaring vocal passages by Mahadevan.

John McLaughlin’s contributions are nothing short of remarkable, seamlessly merging the great Ragas of North and South India with groundbreaking contemporary jazz and the blues. His speed and skilled precision remain exhilarating. The rhythm section, led by Hussain and Vinayakram, creates an engaging dynamic foundation that allows the music to breathe and resonate while also propelling the soloists to ecstatic heights.

You could say that we have returned to elements of an older Shakti sound by bringing back the violin,” says Hussain. “In some ways, it completes the circle. But the musical mindset that the artists in the group bring to the table reveals many layers of creative thought that we in our initial incarnation did not have the time nor the means to explore. And now, the decades of individual music experiences we all have had poured into this gathering’s offering has resulted in an extraordinary depth to the sound and interaction of this band.

I have been working and playing with Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain for 50 years, and with Shankar Mahadevan for 20 years,” McLaughlin concludes. “I can say categorically that their influence on me as a musician and human being is without equal. It’s really a thrill, and I’m delighted to be part of this marvelous tradition of the Shakti group.”

Musicians: John McLaughlin on guitar, guitar synth; Zakir Hussain on tabla, konnakol; Shankar Mahadevan on vocals and konnakol; Ganesh Rajagopalan on violin, konnakol; Selvaganesh Vinayakram on kanjira, mridangam, ghatam, and konnakol.

Buy This Moment.

Author: Claudia Taylor

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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