Found under my Sofa
The Mahavishnu Orchestra was the name of two jazz-fusion groups led by John McLaughlin, in 1971–1976 and 1984–1987.
First Mahavishnu Orchestra:
The band's original lineup featured "Mahavishnu" John McLaughlin on acoustic and electric guitars, with members Billy Cobham on drums, Rick Laird on bass guitar, Jan Hammer on electric and acoustic piano and synthesizer, and Jerry Goodman on violin. This first incarnation of the ensemble was a multinational group: McLaughlin is from Yorkshire, England; Cobham from Panama; Hammer from Prague, Czech Republic; Goodman from Chicago, Illinois; and Laird from Dublin, Ireland. This group was considered an important pioneer in the jazz fusion movement.
|Mahavishnu Orchestra Poster 1971|
McLaughlin had particular ideas for the instrumentation of the group, in keeping with his highly original concept of genre-blending in composition. He particularly wanted a violinist as an integral contributor to its overall sound. As the group evolved, McLaughlin adopted what became his trademark—a double neck guitar (six-string and twelve-string) which allowed for a great degree of diversity in musical textures—and Hammer became one of the first to play a Mini Moog synthesizer in an ensemble, which enabled him to add more sounds and solo more freely, alongside the guitar and the violin.
Their musical style was an original blend of genres:
they combined the high-volume electrified rock sound that had been pioneered by Jimi Hendrix (whom McLaughlin had jammed with on his initial arrival in New York as part of the Tony Williams Lifetime), complex rhythms in unusual time signatures that reflected McLaughlin's interest in Indian classical music as well as funk, and harmonic influence from European classical music. The group's early music, represented on such albums as The Inner Mounting Flame (1971) and Birds of Fire (1973), was entirely instrumental; their later albums had songs which sometimes featured R&B or even gospel/hymn-styled vocals.
In the aforementioned two albums, the group goes from an energetic fusion of upbeat genres (a representative example of which is the song "Vital Transformation") to very serene, chamber music-like tunes, such as "A Lotus On Irish Streams," a composition for acoustic guitar, piano and violin, and "Thousand Island Park," which drops the violin and incorporates double bass; or from low-key to extremely busy in a single piece, such as "Open Country Joy."
|Mahavishnu & Zappa Poster Advertise 1973|
Due to the pressures of sudden fame, exhaustion and a lack of communication, the original band began to tire as 1973 continued. The stress was further exacerbated by a disastrous recording session (from a personal relationship standpoint) at London's Trident Studios that found some of the players not speaking to others. Their project was never fully completed. The last straw came as John McLaughlin read an interview in Crawdaddy! magazine in which Jan Hammer and Jerry Goodman expressed their frustrations with John's leadership style.
An effort to fix things back in New York fell short. McLaughlin in the later 1970s stated in an interview in Gig magazine that he would like the album to come out, as he thought it was good. In its place, the live album Between Nothingness and Eternity was released instead, featuring material from the studio album. Almost 30 years later, during the beginning of a renaissance of Mahavishnu's music, the incomplete album from the failed London recording was released as The Lost Trident Sessions.
John McLaughlin (musician):
John McLaughlin (born 4 January 1942, Doncaster, West Riding of Yorkshire, England), also known as Mahavishnu John McLaughlin, is an English guitarist, bandleader and composer. His music includes many genres of jazz, and rock, which he coupled with an interest in Indian classical music to become one of the pioneering figures in fusion.
After contributing to several key British groups of the early sixties and making his first solo record Extrapolation (with Tony Oxley and John Surman) he moved to the USA where he played with Tony Williams's group Lifetime and then with Miles Davis on his landmark electric jazz-fusion albums In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew, A Tribute to Jack Johnson and On The Corner. His 1970's electric band, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, performed a technically virtuosic and complex style of music that fused electric jazz and rock with Indian influences.
|The Mahavishnu Orchestra - Photo 1972|
ohn McLaughlin is a leading guitarist in jazz and jazz fusion. His style has been described as one of aggressive speed, technical precision, and harmonic sophistication. He is known for using exotic scales and unconventional time signatures. Indian music has had a profound influence on his style, and, it has been written, he is one of the first westerners to play Indian music to Indian audiences. He was influential in bringing jazz fusion to popularity with Miles Davis, playing with Davis on five of his studio albums, including Davis' first gold-certified Bitches Brew, and one live album, Live-Evil. Speaking of himself, McLaughlin has stated that the guitar is simply "part of his body," and he feels more comfortable when a guitar is present.
From a family of musicians (his mother being a concert violinist), McLaughlin studied violin and piano as a child and took up the guitar at the age of 11, exploring styles from flamenco to the jazz of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli. He moved to London from Yorkshire in the early 1960s, playing with Alexis Korner and the Marzipan Twisters before moving on to Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, the Graham Bond Organisation (in 1963) and Brian Auger. During the 1960s he often had to support himself with session work which he often found unsatisfying but which enhanced his playing and sight-reading.
McLaughlin moved to the U.S. in 1969 to join Tony Williams' group Lifetime. A recording from the Record Plant, NYC, dated 25 March 1969, exists of McLaughlin jamming with Jimi Hendrix. McLaughlin recollects "we played one night, just a jam session. And we played from 2 until 8, in the morning. I thought it was a wonderful experience! I was playing an acoustic guitar with a pick-up. Um, flat-top guitar, and Jimi was playing an electric. Yeah, what a lovely time! Had he lived today, you'd find that he would be employing everything he could get his hands on, and I mean acoustic guitar, synthesizers, orchestras, voices, anything he could get his hands on he'd use!"
|The Mahavishnu Orchestra - 1972|
He recorded Devotion in early 1970 on Douglas Records (run by Alan Douglas), a high-energy, psychedelic fusion album that featured Larry Young on organ (who had been part of Lifetime), Billy Rich on bass and the R&B drummer Buddy Miles. Devotion was the first of two albums he released on Douglas. In 1971 he released My Goal's Beyond in the U.S., a collection of unamplified acoustic works. Side A ("Peace One" and "Peace Two") offers a fusion blend of jazz and Indian classical forms, while side B features melodic acoustic playing McLaughlin on such standards as "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat", by Charles Mingus whom McLaughlin considered an important influence. My Goal's Beyond was inspired by McLaughlin's decision to follow the Indian spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy, to whom he had been introduced in 1970 by Larry Coryell's manager. The album was dedicated to Chinmoy, with one of the guru's poems printed on the liner notes. It was on this album that McLaughlin took the name "Mahavishnu".
In 1973 McLaughlin collaborated with Carlos Santana, also a disciple of Sri Chinmoy, on an album of devotional songs, Love Devotion Surrender, which featured recordings of Coltrane compositions including a movement of A Love Supreme. McLaughlin has also worked with the jazz composers Carla Bley and Gil Evans.
McLaughlin's 1970s electric band, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, included violinist Jerry Goodman, keyboardist Jan Hammer, bassist Rick Laird, and drummer Billy Cobham. They performed a technically difficult and complex style of music that fused electric jazz and rock with Eastern and Indian influences. This band helped establish fusion as a new and growing style. McLaughlin's playing at this time was distinguished by fast solos and exotic musical scales.
The Mahavishnu Orchestra's personality clashes were as explosive as their performances, and consequently the first incarnation of the group split in late 1973 after two years and three albums, including a live recording entitled "Between Nothingness and Eternity".
In 2001 the "Lost Trident Sessions" album was released; recorded in 1973 but shelved when the group disbanded. McLaughlin then reformed the group with Narada Michael Walden (drums), Jean-Luc Ponty (violin), Ralphe Armstrong (bass), and Gayle Moran (keyboards and vocals), and a string and horn section (McLaughlin referred to this as "the real Mahavishnu Orchestra"). This incarnation of the group recorded two more albums, Apocalypse with the London Symphony Orchestra and Visions of the Emerald Beyond. A scaled-down quartet was formed with McLaughlin, Walden on drums, Armstrong on bass and Stu Goldberg on keyboards and synthesiser, which generated a third "Mahavishnu 2" recording in 1976 largely due to contractual obligations, Inner Worlds.
♦ Gibson EDS-1275 – McLaughlin played the Gibson doubleneck between 1971 and 1973, his first years with the Mahavishnu Orchestra; this is the guitar which, amplified through a 100-watt Marshall amplifier "in meltdown mode," produced the signature McLaughlin sound hailed by Guitar Player as one of the "50 Greatest Tones of All Time."
♦ Double Rainbow doubleneck guitar made by Rex Bogue, which McLaughlin played from 1973 to 1975.
♦ The first Abraham Wechter-built acoustic "Shakti guitar," a customised Gibson J-200 with drone strings transversely across the soundhole.
♦ He has also played Godin electric/MIDI guitars, one of which can be seen on the Eric Clapton's Crossroads Chicago 2007 DVD.
♦ John currently is endorsed by PRS guitars.
Mahavishnu Orchestra - "Whiskey a Go Go"
Los Angeles, California FM broadcast
1972-03-27 (1st set)
• John McLaughlin: guitar
• Jan Hammer: keyboards
• Jerry Goodman: violin
• Rick Laird: bass
• Billy Cobham: drums
01. John talks, meeting of the spirits 15:25
02. Miles beyond 15:03
03. The dance of Maya 12:48
04. Band intros 1:02
05. A lotus on Irish streams 9:44
06. The noonward race 19:39
Mahavishnu Orchestra - "Nothingness Tour"
Montreal, Canada 1973-07-13
• John McLaughlin (guitar)
• Jerry Goddman (violin)
• Jan Hammer (piano, moog)
• Rick Laird (bass)
• Billy Cobham (drums)
07. Introduction 0:56
08. Meeting of the Spirits 14:32
09. Miles Beyond 12:20
10. Stepping Stones 3:13
11. Sister Andrea 9:31
12. Dream 25:18
13. I Wonder, Awakening (beginning) 05:43
14. Awakening (Part 2) 00:43
15. Awakening (Part 3) 04:51
16. Awakening (Part 4) Conclusion 06:51
17. Meeting of the Spirits 12:41
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|The Mahavishnu Orchestra - Advertise Poster|