John McLaughlin — Meeting of the Minds

Meeting of the Minds (DVD cover)

The DVD of my dreams has just been released by Abstract Logix, and I’ve already started buying it by the dozen: John McLaughlin’s Meeting of the Minds, the making of Floating Point. It is my hope that when Manifold Recording opens and The Miraverse comes into existence that we will be hosting musicians and archiving such creativity and experiences as the Meeting of the Minds DVD captured.

I’m a big fan of John McLaughlin’s music and musicality. When he came to Durham last year, I was lucky enough to procure 4 tickets to his Fourth Dimension concert so close to the stage I could touch it. At that time we had already received zoning approval for the studio complex, but we had not yet received a building permit. I went to that concert at the Carolina Theater of Durham both as a fan and as a prospective producer. How would his live concert measure up to what I believe could be an even better experience–an opportunity to see and participate in the creative process with a musical genius like John?

What I learned that evening in Durham is that there is a world of difference between a concert and a creative experience such as was documented in Meeting of the Minds. In the concert environment, John took the stage and let his guitar do all the talking. Of course he introduced his fellow band members, but he didn’t really introduce the music or the songs. Rather, he just let the notes stream out at warp speed to be assimilated and decoded by the audience before they vanished into memory. I believe that was a missed opportunity. Even a passive audience benefits from a little education and elaboration–the background of a song, its connection to other songs, the concepts and compromises intrinsic to any finite work.

In Meeting of the Minds, John opens up and helps explain, both to his collaborators and to those watching the DVD, this is what to look for or that is somethng to watch out for. These clues satisfy not only our curiosity about the man, but also enhance our appetite for the music. It presents a wonderful spectrum of mutual respect, humility, courage, talent, and above all, musicality. I do really, really like the Floating Point CD. But I like it so much more having seen the people making it and the process by which it was made.

I do believe that John McLaughlin is one of the greatest guitar players in the world, but in no way is he the only one or the only one that matters. Many, many players matter. Many, many players have stories to tell, references to cite, inspirations to honor, and musical worlds to create and explore. I believe that an expanded format of both DVD and CD may help music better compete for our attention in an increasingly crowded marketplace. For me the subject, scope, and quality of this production validates the vision that a studio environment like Manifold Recording will live up to its name: Manifold Recording. With integrated audio and video infrastructure, a live room, booths, and a control room commensurate in size to the ones John used in Chennai, we will be able to capture and deliver the essential depth and dimension that defines both the creative process and product, and that this will in turn provide a sustainable edge for all who participate.

If this DVD moves you as it did me, then I encourage you to contact me. Tell me what made you most excited. Tell me what new ideas about content and production it awakens in you. Tell me especially about how you think the studio proper and/or the experience/environment can best serve future meetings of the minds. I am looking to build a network of artists, producers, and engineers who are as excited as I am about engaging music in ways that make it more valuable, more sustainable, and more rewarding than the current status quo accepts or allows. I believe that Meeting of the Minds shows that this is perfectly possible, and I believe that with the right facilities and the right people, we can create a new and much better status quo. If you, too, believe, then let’s talk about making this happen!

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