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John McLaughlin and the Tonight Show Big Band, "Cherokee"

07-03-2017 | By John Marks | Issue 92

Dear friend and fellow sojourner John Marks once again shares a musical morsel with us, originally published on his blog site, The Tannhauser Gate (http://www.thetannhausergate.com). This is a fine video of the guitar master, John McLaughlin, swingin' with Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show band.

As John observes below, what can one say? As the ancient Romans would have noted, "Res ipsa loquitur."

Amen to that!

And so on to the video...do enjoy!

Dr. David W. Robinson, Ye Olde Editor

John McLaughlin and the Tonight Show Big Band, "Cherokee" (1986)

There’s not too much to say about this… the music so confidently speaks for itself.

I first became aware of John McLaughlin upon seeing and hearing his third solo album My Goal's Beyond. Woober Joobers. I had never heard an Ovation "Roundback" guitar before; and the fact that the original LP album cover showed McLaughlin’s meditation room (and a portrait of his guru, Sri Chinmoy), intrigued me.

Years later, attending Vanderbilt Law School, at an overstock sale at the University bookstore, I bought a book of Meditations by Sri Chinmoy; and: it cut me to the quick.

Quoting from memory: Chinmoy stated that Jesus knew in advance and even predicted that Peter would deny him three times.

But:  Chinmoy goes on to say, Jesus chose no one else as the Rock upon whom He would found his church.

Quoth Chinmoy: Therefore, in view of all that: Stop obsessing about your own little sins; wake up, and try to do some good in the world.

That, and the fact that Chinmoy had lectured at Oxford (and therefore knew his Dante), at least to a limited degree, won me over.

John McLaughin became famous for his Mahavishnu Orchestra, and his later fusion exploits; but it is good to be reminded:  Oh yeah:  John McLaughlin could swing.

"Cherokee" is an iconic tune; and, I for one am sure that the Tonight Show band never played it better.

I often say that Hugh Hefner threw a lifeline to jazz after the British Invasion; but, Johnny Carson, of an age and upbringing with Hefner, did the same, by employing a big band five nights a week, and featuring soloists as diverse as Buddy Rich, and John McLaughlin.