Interview with John Mc Laughlin

Logic User John McLaughlin leaves traces
in the history of Jazz

February 7th 2003

Q: You'll soon be releasing a DVD to teach guitar students. In your long and ongoing career: which musicians do you consider to be your teachers or mentors?

Mc Laughlin: During my career I have had the chance to play with many great musicians. The most notable being Miles Davis with whom I began playing in 1969. I recorded about 6 or 7 Albums with him, and appeared in many concerts in Europe and America. Miles was, without doubt, the greatest of all the teachers and mentors I have had in my life. Naturally, some of today's finest musicians came to public recognition, like myself, through their association with Miles Davis: such as John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarret and Chick Corea. Amongst these musicians are some of my greatest influences, particularly John Coltrane and Bill Evans. My musical debt to Miles and these gentlemen is enormous.

Q: Is this type of relationship the best way of "growing up" in the music scene and for improving skills?

Mc Laughlin: There is no better way of learning music than by having a personal relationship with the "teacher". However, the musical world is now the size of the planet, and there are many, many young musicians all over the world who really desire instruction, and I believe that the interactive DVD we will make, while never replacing the physical presence of the teacher, will do a great job of communicating musical information in a lucid and coherent manner.

Q: Over recent years, eastern music - especially from India - seems to be one of the most important influences on you. Which aspect of this music is the most fascinating to you?

Mc Laughlin: Without doubt, Indian music has played an important part in my "global education". In musical terms, the musicians in India have attained a level of spontaneous improvisation in music that is only equaled in jazz music. Briefly, the Jazz musician and his Indian counterpart have much musical common ground, and we can learn a great deal from each other.

Q: You started as a guitarist. Later on, you became a bandleader as well. In theory - being a Logic user - you could produce everything on your own, or globally swap sound and MIDI files with musicians via the Internet. What's your opinion about these new possibilities?

Mc Laughlin: I started as a guitarist and will end my life as a guitarist! I became a bandleader before the personal computer was invented, so I know the value of the written note. That was the only thing musicians had to communicate with each other. With the advent of the personal computer, and its "software soul" everything began to change.
The manner in which we recorded music, and communicated, all changed with the introduction of MIDI and its manipulation with music software such as Logic. At the beginning, things moved slowly, but gradually began to transform the music world. Today, I think nothing of sending a modified Logic session over the net to a colleague who is working on the same session. In addition, I can now send audio files for the same session. This is truly amazing. MIDI, and its development into audio control and manipulation, is without doubt at the heart of the revolution in music today, and since I have used perhaps every music software app on the market, I can say that Logic is without equal in its control of MIDI and audio. It has essentially altered the way musicians think in the creation and realization of their music.

Q: You'll go on tour soon. Will Logic be part of your luggage...or maybe part of your setup on stage?

Mc Laughlin: I leave on tour soon for one simple reason - and that is to play music with some of the greatest musicians in the world. It is a fairly short tour with the musicians from "Remember Shakti", but we will play all the major cities in India, plus two special concerts in Dubai. However, this tour is very special for me since it will be the first time I will tour without bringing my guitar effects rack along with me.
One month ago my sound technician and I successfully reproduced my effects rack using an Apple Titanium PowerBook and Logic Platinum 5 with plug-ins. You cannot imagine the pleasure and relief I've felt since this day

From now on, I will tour with no effects rack, using only a PowerBook with Logic

 - installed on my shoulder. For me, this is nothing less than a revolution!

Addendum by One-Word member Julian F. Derry.
this reply from JM to this, my query about his new "rig"...

Lastly, there is much excitement amongst the members of One-Word (a mailing list dedicated to discussing your music) about digital/ethernet
guitars, with much speculation about what plug-ins you are using etc,and if they sound similar to the Sony M7. 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 2003 18:58:49 +0100
Subject: Re:

Dear Julian, thanks for your heartfelt letter.

Here is the content of what I wrote for the E-Magic WebSite, I hope it's ofuse to someone. It definitely is useful for me. I was using this setup
during a recent tour of India.

Here is my setup for the Titanium laptop computer that I use toreplace my touring rack, which is basically the Sony M7 effects unit that
although not made anymore, is a powerful machine.

        As you know, the various airlines of the world have trashed at least5 of my Sony M7's, and it is for this reason I have researched the
possibilities of reproducing the Sony effects through the Laptop using Logic Platinum with VST Plugins.

        My sound technician Marcus Wippersberg created a Logic setup with 4 Channels and one main output.

        The Guitar audio signal arrives from the MOTU 828 via FireWire to the computer and into the 1st. input channel.

        The first effect is an Equalizer where you can modify the basic Guitar tone to your choice.

        The output of this channel is then bussed to another input channel which has two separate chorus effects that I use with discretion so as not
to deform the sound too much. This then goes to a delay with only one effect.

        The output of this channel then is bussed to a further channel which has an autopanner set on very slow, and which gives me a greater sense of
width and movement to the sound, which is then sent to the front house console, and stage monitor who can add reverb if required.

    At the moment I am still running everything with Mac OS 9.2, and although there is a very short delay of a few milliseconds, it doesn't
bother me too much. From what I hear, running everything with Mac OS.X will reduce even further the processing delay.

P.S. I am working with Apple computers at the moment on this subject of virtual reproduction of hardware for guitarists. I recently received a Beta
version of an Amplitude program from them, that runs dirctly from the audio input of the computer, and outputs from the audio output. (OS X of course)
and this system is definitely quicker! More news as it develops...

 Below is a sample pic of how LogicPlatinum 5.5 looks with plug-ins