John McLaughlin and the “Tonight Show” Big Band: “Cherokee” (1986)

There’s not too much to say about this… the music so confidently speaks for itself.

I first became aware of John McLaughlin upon seeing and hearing his third solo album My Goal’s Beyond. Woober Joobers. I had never heard an Ovation “Roundback” guitar before; and the fact that the original LP album cover showed McLaughlin’s meditation room (and a portrait of his guru, Sri Chinmoy), intrigued me.

Years later, attending Vanderbilt Law School, at an overstock sale at the University bookstore, I bought a book of Meditations by Sri Chinmoy; and: it cut me to the quick.

Quoting from memory: Chinmoy stated that Jesus knew in advance and even predicted that Peter would deny him three times.

But: Chinmoy goes on to say, Jesus chose no one else as the Rock upon whom He would found his church.

Quoth Chinmoy: Therefore, in view of all that: Stop obsessing about your own little sins; wake up, and try to do some good in the world.

That, and the fact that Chinmoy had lectured at Oxford (and therefore knew his Dante); at least to a limited degree, won me over.

John McLaughin became famous for his Mahavishnu Orchestra, and his later fusion exploits; but it is good to be reminded: Oh yeah: John McLaughlin could swing.

“Cherokee” is an iconic tune; and, I for one am sure that the Tonight Show band never played it better.

I often say that Hugh Hefner threw a lifeline to jazz after the British Invasion; but, Johnny Carson, of an age and upbringing with Hefner, did the same, by employing a big band five nights a week, and featuring soloists as diverse as Buddy Rich, and John McLaughlin.

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One Reply to “John McLaughlin and the “Tonight Show” Big Band: “Cherokee” (1986)”

  1. John Hamm

    McLaughlin, as always, is a joy to behold (behear?). During the intro though, I couldn’t help wishing the horn section had been out on a smoke break. Thanks for posting this!

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