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Tuesday, November 29, 2011
MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA - THE COMPLETE COLUMBIA ALBUMS COLLECTION
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 McLaughlin’s charging ensemble. McLaughlin had already built a firm reputation in his native England as a keen improviser with blues and rock leanings when he was invited by drummer Tony Williams in early 1969 to join him in New York. Almost immediately, McLaughlin was swept up into the very epicenter of the burgeoning fusion movement, appearing on – in 1969 alone – three of the genre’s most significant recordings: Emergency! (by the newly-formed Tony Williams Lifetime) and In aSilent Way and Bitches Brew, the epochal Miles Davis albums that kick started fusion. When it was time for McLaughlin -- who, in his initial New York stay, had quickly developed from a gifted player to a brilliant one -- to form his own band, he brought together musicians who could apply full-force rock energy to improvisatory jazz skill. Keyboardist Jan Hammer, violinist Jerry Goodman, and drummer Billy Cobham were each extravagant virtuosos eager to match McLaughlin at his own game; bassist Rick Laird contained the passion with his steady bass lines. Dubbed the Mahavishnu Orchestra, the new band released its debut recording, The Inner Mounting Flame in August of 1971: fusion as we know it was now fully born. Younger listeners raised on rock responded to the band's vitality and extraordinary musicianship; before long The Mahavishnu Orchestra was appearing with the likes of The Byrds and Aerosmith. Subsequent hit albums built on The Inner Mounting Flame’s innovations; Hammer added synthesizers to his arsenal, developing a keyboard style nearly as influential as that of McLaughlin’s frenetic guitar work and Cobham’s rumbling percussive attack. But it was nearly inevitable that the life span of such a dynamic ensemble would be brief. The Mahavishnu Orchestra threw down the gauntlet; fusioneers who followed have been trying to catch up ever since.
• 2011 marks the 40th Anniversary of the founding of the band and its signing to Columbia Records.
• Features the original classic line-up of the band led by John McLaughlin -- and including Billy Cobham, Jan Hammer, Jerry Goodman and Rick Laird.
• Smash hit albums The Inner Mounting Flame and Birds Of Fire are here, along with the band’s only live album Between Nothingness And Eternity, plus the rare The Lost Trident Sessions.
• Also contains the very rare bonus track, a 15 minute live version of “Noonward Race” from the Mar Y Sol Festival in 1972 in Puerto Rico.
1. The Inner Mounting Flame (1971)
2. Birds Of Fire (1973)
3. The Lost Trident Sessions (1973)
4. Between Nothingness and Eternity (1974)
5. Bonus Disc: Between Nothingness And Eternity [Disc 2] All tracks previously unreleased