5.0 out of 5 stars Surprise!
By W. T. Haight II
Shame on Columbia records for keeping this hidden for 40 years. They seem to have a fetish for this sort of thing. After all, they allowed what we now have as "The Lost Trident Sessions" to languish unseen for 25 years. It was live versions of the major songs from that recording which Columbia released as the original "Between Nothingness & Eternity." This second volume from that same concert contains a shorty from "Trident" and three pieces each from "The Inner Mounting Flame" and "Birds Of Fire." But these are not simply readings of familiar tunes. This is a band at the pinnacle of its estimable powers. Each player is a brilliant soloist, but also a team player who comps for the others. The guys have stretched and squashed these pieces, smacked them flat and thrown them over, popped them inside out and played them backwards. They've wrung as much joy, peace, exuberance, anguish, anger and laughter from them as possible, until they resemble the originals at times, but also not at all. This is muscular music which calls to mind a world record athletic performance: its tempos are furious, its harmonies angular and shifting, its rhythms thunderous yet intricate, its execution serving precision and inspiration equally. It will hit you in the solar plexus and knock the wind straight out of you.
Five stars is not nearly enough for this music. How about several hundred each for Billy, Rick, Jan, Jerry and Johnny Mac. And another hundred for Rex Bogue's (RIP) magnificent double rainbow, the finest example possible of the right guitar for the right player
Features the original classic line-up of the band
1. Hope (2011 Master) 1:47
2. Awakening (2011 Master) 14:08
3. You Know, You Know (2011 Master) 7:12
4. One Word (2011 Master) 18:30
5. Stepping Tones (2011 Master) 2:01
6. Vital Transformation (2011 Master) 6:16
7. The Dance Of Maya (2011 Master) 14:04
One of the premiere fusion groups, the Mahavishnu Orchestra were considered by most observers during their prime to be a rock band, but their sophisticated improvisations actually put their high-powered music between rock and jazz. Founder and leader John McLaughlin had recently played with Miles Davis and Tony Williams' Lifetime. The original lineup of the group was McLaughlin on electric guitar, violinist Jerry Goodman, keyboardist Jan Hammer, electric bassist Rick Laird, and drummer Billy Cobham. They recorded three intense albums for Columbia during 1971-1973 and then the personnel changed completely for the second version of the group. In 1974, the band consisted of violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, Gayle Moran on keyboards and vocals, electric bassist Ralphe Armstrong, and drummer Narada Michael Walden; by 1975 Stu Goldberg had replaced Moran and Ponty had left. John McLaughlin's dual interests in Eastern religion and playing acoustic guitar resulted in the band breaking up in 1975. Surprisingly, an attempt to revive the Mahavishnu Orchestra in 1984 (using Cobham, saxophonist Bill Evans, keyboardist Mitchell Forman, electric bassist Jonas Hellborg, and percussionist Danny Gottlieb) was unsuccessful; one Warner Bros. album resulted. However, when one thinks of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, it is of the original lineup, which was very influential throughout the 1970s. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi
The Mahavishnu Orchestra, in its original incarnation, lasted just four years, but in that brief time, the pioneering quintet set both the template and the high-water mark for fusion music. No band ever rocked as hard in a jazzy place as guitarist John McLaughlinís charging ensemble.
posted by Val on 06/2013 on B H&H