JAMES MAC GAW (MAGMA)
Last March 8 the French-Scottish guitarist James Mac Gaw passed away. He has been the guitarist from the illustrious vocal jazzrock group Magma from July 1997 (Nice Jazz Festival) to June 2015 (Osaka, Japan). Together with bassist Philippe Buissonnet he became the backbone of the born again phenomenon, flanking leader Christian Vander (drums/vocals), always ready, delivering everywhere. The tandem soon became very involved and with their telepathic connection and rhythmic synergy, ‘Bubu’ & James formed the ideal companions for the adventurous and unpredictable master drummer. Thus the young men were at the cradle of Magma's come-back, which led to almost endless world tours and countless albums.
With his great musicality, versatile playing and dexterous technique, his developed guitar sound and control over his FX-board, James Mac Gaw was the ultimate and complete guitarist for Magma. In addition to his mindblowing guitar work and dazzling solos, his absolute hearing, theoretical knowledge and musical training, James (together with vibraphonist Benoît Alziary), provided scores of the masterpieces of the genius Vander, who himself never entrusted a note to the paper.
With his 17 years of service, he was in any case one of the most loyal members of the band, which is characterized by an ever-changing line-up. James has participated in hundreds of concerts, dozens of studio and live albums and DVDs and sometimes he added workshops to the performances. He toured tirelessly with Magma and One Shot (a jazz rock formation with Magma members), until he was attacked in 2015 by an aggressive brain tumor. He survived the operation and embarked on the fight of his life, an unfair fight that ended in early 2021.
In december 2020 James Mac Gaw produced his farewell album called 'La Fin des Temples', a tribute to his friend and leader Christian Vander. A beautiful echo of everything that Zeuhl has become known for. Christian Vander posthumously wrriting to his eternal friend James, calls it “the ultimate message; a celestial hymn that connects us to your new universe…” Stella Vander, singer of Magma, salutes James as her charming friend and a real 'Son of Magma', but above all a musical wizard who created osmosis. "Loosing James was very hard for all of us..."
James Mac Gaw with Magma at Music Meeting Nijmegen 2010 (The Netherlands) Photo © Hans Speekenbrink
Christian Vander with James Mac Gaw at Le Triton, Paris, after MDK - 2005. Epok II DVD
James Mac Gaw (MAGMA) with Storm (ProgJazz) backstage at Music Meeting Nijmegen 2010 (The Netherlands). Photo by Laurent Sprooten.