Mahavishnu Orchestra — Mahavishnu
(Wounded Bird WOU 5190, 1984/2002, CD)
by Jon Davis, 1984-10-18:
In the late 60s, guitarist John McLaughlin burst onto the jazz scene, playing with Miles Davis and Tony Williams at the very beginnings of jazz-rock fusion. When he formed his own group, Mahavishnu Orchestra, he took the jazz world by storm with an electrifying blend of jazz, rock, Indian, and European Classical music. The Orchestra disbanded several years ago, as McLaughlin experimented with all-acoustic music and solo albums. Now the band is back with a shortened name and a streamlined sound. Gone are the elaborate orchestrations and large group of musicians. McLaughlin's guitar playing is astounding, with both lightning licks and lyrical melodies. His use of the new guitar synthesizer is never inappropriate; he alters his sound to fit the mood of the piece. Billy Cobham, the other remaining original member, is the driving force behind the music. His drumming is better than ever, reflecting the assimilation of all the world's percussive styles by a mind with an incredible rhythmic sense. The reformation of Mahavishnu is one of the best things to happen in jazz this year.
(This review originally appeared in Daily Evergreen, the student newspaper at Washington State University.)
by Jon Davis, 2003-12-01:
I don’t think anyone would argue against the idea that the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s peak was long past by the time John McLaughlin put this version of the band together. McLaughlin probably regarded this as a somewhat different band anyway, as evidenced by the fact that it was originally released just as Mahavishnu (for this reissue, the “Orchestra” is added). Billy Cobham is the only other Orchestra member present, and the role of melodic foil to the guitar and keys, previously filled by violin, is taken over by Bill Evans on saxes and flute. Listeners expecting the manic edge-of-the-seat energy that made the original band’s first few albums so remarkable will be disappointed; while this is no snooze-fest, the whole thing is more polished and mannered, due in large part to McLaughlin’s avoidance of the guitar. Yes, one of the great guitarists of all time recorded an album on which he plays mostly keyboards and “digital guitar” rather than his main axe. Maybe he was just tired of it and wanted to try something different, though he does rip out exactly one excellent solo on the third track. The results are somewhat mixed, for though there are some great moments, on the whole it’s a little too polite to rank with the best MO. Jonas Hellborg is uniformly good on bass, and Mitchell Forman fills the keyboard role admirably. All of which leaves this album as a curiosity in McLaughlin’s career, far from worthless, but not one of the greats.
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more
Under the Sun - Schematism - On Stage with Under the Sun – Under the Sun has been AWOL since the band debuted in 2000 with mixing work done by long time Rush associate Terry Brown on Magna Carta. The band also had some name confusion with the Nova Scotia act... (2006) » Read more