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As jazz-rock fusion pioneer John McLaughlin delved deeper into Eastern spirituality and mysticism, he developed a corresponding interest in the music of South India. Following the collapse of the second version of the Mahavishnu Orchestra in 1975, McLaughlin put together Shakti, an outfit dedicated to fusing high-energy jazz and Indian music. In addition to McLaughlin (who played acoustic guitar instead of his customary electric), Shakti featured violinist Lakshminarayana Shankar, tabla player Zakir Hussain, and mridangam players T.H. "Vikku" Vinayakram and Ramnad V. Raghavan. The group's innovative self-titled debut was released in the summer of 1975, after which Raghavan departed, leaving them a quartet. Two further Shakti albums -- 1976's A Handful of Beauty and 1977's Natural Elements -- appeared before McLaughlin elected to move on to other projects. In 1999, McLaughlin reunited with Hussain and Vinayakram for a new double-disc album, Remember Shakti, which also featured bansuri master Hariprasad Chaurasia.
© Steve Huey /TiVo
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