John McLaughlin - To the power of zen

John McLaughlin draws on the energy of the music he created with the Mahavishnu Orchestra to weld it on to everything that has gone since for his eagerly awaited “zen” project. With its hard driving, abrasive edge at times, it is hardly a fluffy product of some dreamy new age.

While there are respectful nods to esteemed colleagues such as Wayne Shorter and Michael Brecker, the spiritual strength of the Dali Lama informs McLaughlin’s concept as the guitarist hits new improvisational peaks and challenges the growth of conservatism in jazz. Exclusive interview: Stuart Nicholson

Jack DeJohnette - Once in a lifetime

The latest project for drummer Jack DeJohnette is a live album Trio Beyond: Saudades based on a tribute project to fellow drummer Tony Williams’ Lifetime, a group that was at the forefront of the jazz-rock revolution in the late 1960s. DeJohnette teams up with organist Larry Goldings and guitarist John Scofield for the album. Stuart Nicholson talks to Jack about Tony Williams and recalls Jack’s tenure with Miles Davis especially the sessions in Washington DC recorded at the Cellar Door club and describes how De Johnette’s own group Special Edition in the 1980s provided a jumping off point for a new generation of jazz leaders

Bennie Maupin - Dark side of the sun

Penumbra is the long awaited new album by Bennie Maupin, best known for his work on Head Hunters and Bitches Brew. The saxophonist and bass clarinettist talks to Tom Barlow about why his new album has taken so long, his Nichiren Daishonin Buddhist beliefs, recollections of Eric Dolphy and mentor Yusef Lateef

Tomasz Stanko - Far Off

Blues-drenched, free jazz legend Tomasz Stanko knows Ornette’s Coleman’s tune ‘Lonely Woman’ like some people know Lennon and McCartney’s’ ‘Let It Be’. For him it’s the kind of music that is key to his interior musical soundtrack. Over the years he has led his own bands in Poland, influenced initially heavily by the man from Fort Worth. But Stanko importantly became a member of pianist/composer Krzysztof Komeda’s group and later in his career worked extensively with the distinguished Finnish drummer Edward Vesala, as well as working as a sideman with Cecil Taylor, Gary Peacock and most recently Manu Katché. Stanko’s own groups have varied in their complexion, sometimes very austere, sometimes accessible with bossa nova and modal flavours. Next month his current quartet releases its third album. Ahead of its release, Stanko talks to Stephen Graham

Kenny Garrett - Chinese Whispers

Kenny Garrett is forever etched on the jazz imagination for his touring and recording with Miles Davis in the last period of the trumpeter’s life. Garrett and Miles made the most unlikely songs work. Long since a leader of distinction with many albums under his belt, Garrett made a creative leap of considerable audacity some years ago when he started to incorporate Chinese music into his vision of jazz, moving away from Coltrane tributes and a funkier direction. Andy Robson talks to the alto saxophonist about his new "Great Wall of China" project, dedicated to McCoy Tyner, tracks the erhu down to its lair and discovers what really happened when Kenny-met-Pharoah.

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