As a cornerstone of what is now called World Music, Shakti’s vision and virtuosity have inspired generations of musicians worldwide to explore previously unthinkable sonic hybrids. Born from the musical and spiritual brotherhood between the groundbreaking British guitarist and bandleader John McLaughlin and the masterful Indian percussionist Zakir Hussain, Shakti’s soulful and organic fusion of Eastern and Western, North Indian and Carnatic musical traditions has been transformative for both the band members and their listeners.
Now, fifty years after the informal conversations and jam sessions that sparked the band’s inception, Shakti unveils “This Moment,” their first studio album in over 45 years. Released on June 23, 2023, on CD and vinyl LP by Abstract Logix, India will also have the privilege of streaming the album first on Spotify India. A poignant aspect of this album is the dedication of the recordings to the memory of the incomparable late ‘Mandolin’ U. Shrinivas, a former Shakti band member.
“‘This Moment’, the new ‘studio’ album is a true labor of love. The music on this recording represents a quantum leap in the musical evolution of Shakti. It represents 50 years of working and playing together beginning in 1973. The numerous concerts we have played, the number of times we have been together working on our musical development, have brought us to the point where it has all been brought together here and now in the 21st Century. This album is a crystallisation of 5 decades of love and dedication. Our musical evolution recorded here, is really a revolution in the history of Shakti.” – John McLaughlin
A work of profound depth and radiant optimism, “This Moment” presents a collection of eight new compositions and performances that exude a rare intensity forged from unwavering passion. Led by McLaughlin (guitar, guitar synth) and Hussain (tabla), Shakti now encompasses a formidable ensemble, featuring vocalist Shankar Mahadevan, percussionist V. Selvaganesh, and violinist Ganesh Rajagopalan. This incarnation of Shakti embodies a captivating dynamism, characterised by masterful interplay, mesmerising unison passages, extraordinary improvisations, and an uncanny ability to seamlessly blend diverse global traditions into profound musical dialogues.
“We took advantage of the fact that we were all isolated during the lockdown, and John ji took the lead. So, from remote places all over the world, files were going back and forth, we had a common dropbox, everybody listened to it put their part, brought it back, exchanged comments on a WhatsApp group, oh my god! how we executed this album ‘This Moment’ is really remarkable. It was an experience and we really enjoyed the process.” – Shankar Mahadevan
The compositions comprising “This Moment” traverse a series of interconnected movements, skilfully showcasing various vocal and instrumental sub-groups within Shakti. These transitions encompass tightly woven thematic statements, captivating solos by McLaughlin and Rajagopalan, invigorating rhythmic shifts, and soaring vocal passages by Mahadevan. McLaughlin’s contributions are extraordinary, as he adeptly harmonises the magnificent Ragas of North and South India with the chromatic essence of jazz and blues. The sheer velocity and precision of his articulation continue to exhilarate. Acting as the engine room, Hussain and Vinayakram (son of the original Shakti ghatam player, T.H. “Vikku” Vinayakram) create a spacious environment for the passages to breathe and resonate, while also igniting a fervent, galloping foundation that propels the soloists to ever-increasing ecstatic heights.
“The discovery each time you sit as a group, to play and perform, is like climbing the Everest from different angles. Every time it is a whole different point of view, marvelling at how you do the same but it’s not the same. Having that kind of interaction, conversation between the group, the creative idea process is something that is Shakti and it is exclusive to Shakti.” – Zakir Hussain
Following the resounding success of their India tour in January 2023, which was promoted and produced by Hyperlink Brand Solutions, Shakti is now set to embark on an extensive tour across Europe and the United States of America to celebrate the release of “This Moment.” The European tour will encompass six countries, commencing on June 27th, while their first U.S. tour in eighteen years will span across 17 cities nationwide. The U.S. tour showcases Shakti’s pan-cultural ethos by incorporating jazz and American elements through special appearances by esteemed musicians such as Jerry Douglas, Béla Fleck, Bill Frisell, or John Scofield.