World Music Innovators Shakti Share “Finding The Way” Live from the Ryman (Premiere)

December 28, 2023
World Music Innovators Shakti Share “Finding The Way” Live from the Ryman (Premiere)

Earlier this year, John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain reconvened their singular, pioneering world fusion collective Shakti and released a new album. This Moment—the first Shakti studio record in 45 years—has been nominated for a Grammy in the Best Global Music category. Today we premiere a live video of “Finding The Way,” a track from This Moment performed at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville during Shakti’s 50th anniversary tour, which also featured bandmates Shankar Mahadevan (vocals), Selvaganesh Vinayakaram (percussion), and Ganesh Rajagopalan (violin).

Looking back on his initial musical collaboration with Hussain, McLaughlin recently told Relix, “Within 20 seconds, I realized I was playing with somebody that I had to play with more because he was just too amazing. There was an affinity that is indescribable. This really was the pinnacle. It was the primal experience behind the formation of Shakti. Zakir is simply the greatest. He says we were musicians from the same family in another life, and I think it is as logical to assume that as it is not to assume that.”

“It still feels like a group of like-minded people who are addicted to the same intoxication, ecstasy and joy,” the tabla player then noted. “That’s where our heads are at. We’ll say, ‘OK, we’re going to sit together to work out arrangements that we’re going to play onstage.’ Instead, we end up playing a song for an hour and a half in a rehearsal, just having fun, enjoying ourselves and totally forgetting that we’re putting together material for a concert. What’s unique and magnetizing about Shakti is that kind of hang, where we embrace each other physically, mentally, musically and rhythmically.”

As for “Finding the Way,” the guitarist reflects,  “The title of the tune can be read in different ways. Some of which can be almost existential. First of all every human being is finding their way from the moment they are born: this could be almost considered a ‘choice’ apart from people living in a repressive dictatorship in or a war zone in which choices are extremely limited. From a personal point of view, ‘Finding the Way’ in life was and is inseparable from finding my way in music simply because I, and every artist needs to find their way in their art which necessitates knowing to some degree who you are. This is also the great question in metaphysics and in fact, the goal of what is known as Self Realization is the discovery of ‘who we really are’. The piece itself is technically demanding on all the musicians  nd opens with a dialogue between the melodic section of the band and the percussion. The dialogue ends with each percussionist improvising spontaneously which is also a form of ‘finding the way’ both artistically and spiritually. At the end, the percussionists call the melodic section back in order to end in collective joy.”