Best known as an obscure outpost in BBC Radio 4’s late-night Shipping Forecast, Valencia is also the location of an outpost of Boston’s Berklee College, the home of jazz degrees. John’s former Mahavishnu Orchestra colleague Rick Laird went there (Boston) in the middle 60s, as did his estwhile collaborators Howard Riley and Michael Gibbs.
On July 10, a couple of weeks ago, John only had to go as far as Valencia (from his home in Monaco) to receive an honorary doctorate in music, presented by Berklee President Roger H. Brown.
As the press release puts it:
Berklee’s honorary doctorate recipients are recognised for their achievements and influences in music, and for their enduring contributions to American and international culture. Past recipients include Duke Ellington (the first, in 1971), Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Smokey Robinson, Steven Tyler, Loretta Lynn, Juan Luis Guerra, Annie Lennox, Paco de Lucia, Carole King, Willie Nelson, George Clinton, Rita Moreno, Lionel Richie, and A. R. Rahman. Honorary doctorates have previously been awarded at the Valencia campus to Eddie Gómez (2013) and Plácido Domingo (2014).
John performed as a special guest at the commencement concert at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia. Here he is with a solo ‘Stella By Starlight’ and a blissful ‘My Favourite Things’, after John Coltrane. Neither piece is part of his usual repertoire.
It looks like the Valencia campus did a terrific job in staging, sound mixing and filming the event. The players are:
Guitar: John McLaughlin
Flute and Vocals: Rasika Chandarshekar
Piano: Hooni Min
Bass: Tabari Lake
Drums: Joshua Wheatley
So – hearty congratulations to Doctor John! Isn’t it amazing that – unless I’m mistaken – no British institution has yet recognised his achievements with honorary degrees?