“Is That So?” is a profound work from John McLaughlin's musical collaboration with prolific Indian composer and vocalist Shankar Mahadevan. Six years in the making, they are accompanied by life-long friend and musical brother Ustad Zakir Hussain on the tabla, who has been collaborating with John since they founded Shakti in the early '70s. 'The idea for this album appeared in my mind early 2013. Shankar and I had been touring with Shakti and I was constantly inspired by his superb voice and gigantic talent. Even though I had studied the theory and practice of Indian music for years, I remain a 'Western' musician and one aspect of Western music is the magic of harmony', says John.' From the outset in the early 1970's, I constantly researched the possibilities of integrating harmony into the traditions of North and South India while at the same time keeping as close as possible to the melodic rules of the Raga system. However, the idea I mention above, was to abandon the rules of the Raga system completely and apply my own western harmonic liberty to the amazing voice of Shankar Mahadevan. ''Before concerts, John and I used to dabble with free improvisations using Indian scales (Ragas) and different harmonies backing them', says Shankar Mahadevan. 'The whole texture, color, feeling and the canvas of the music excited us as harmonic content does not exist in Indian classical music. In the beginning it was just a fun experiment, but it soon became larger than life and we knew we had to record it. When Zakir Hussain, the great tabla Maestro himself agreed to play in the improvisational sections we knew this would take our recording to a new level.
They could not have asked for more. Is that So? is a new concept in the meeting of musicians, singers, percussionists, and the musical cultures of the East and West. It takes listeners into unexplored musical horizons and is available on both CD and as a digital download.
Released Jan 17, 2020
Available on CD and as a lossless download.