Mahavishnu Orchestra

  (Redirected from The Mahavishnu Orchestra)

Mahavishnu Orchestra were a jazz fusion band formed in New York City in 1971, led by English guitarist John McLaughlin.[1] The group underwent several line-up changes throughout its history across two stints from 1971 to 1976 and 1984 to 1987.[2] With its first line-up consisting of musicians Billy Cobham, Jan Hammer, Jerry Goodman and Rick Laird, the band received its initial acclaim for its complex, intense music consisting of a blend of Indian classical music, jazz and psychedelic rock, and its dynamic live performances between 1971 and 1973.[3][4]

Mahavishnu Orchestra
The original line-up on stage in 1973. Left to right: Jerry Goodman, Jan Hammer, John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, Rick Laird
The original line-up on stage in 1973.
Left to right: Jerry Goodman, Jan Hammer, John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, Rick Laird
Background information
OriginNew York City, US
Genres
Years active
  • 1971–1976
  • 1984–1987
LabelsColumbia
Associated acts
Past membersJohn McLaughlin
Billy Cobham
Jan Hammer
Jerry Goodman
Rick Laird
Ralphe Armstrong
Narada Michael Walden
Gayle Moran
Jean-Luc Ponty
Stu Goldberg
Bill Evans
Jonas Hellborg
Mitchel Forman
Danny Gottlieb
Jim Beard

HistoryEdit

1971–1974: First incarnationEdit

By mid-1971, McLaughlin had been a member of Miles Davis' band and Tony Williams' Lifetime, and released three solo albums. He then set about forming his own jazz fusion group, the first line-up of which featured Panamanian drummer Billy Cobham, Irish bassist Rick Laird, Czechoslovakian keyboardist Jan Hammer, and American violinist Jerry Goodman.[5] Cobham and Goodman had played on McLaughlin's third solo album My Goal's Beyond (1971). McLaughlin's first choice for violinist was Frenchman Jean-Luc Ponty, but he was unable to join due to immigration problems. After listening to various albums he hired Goodman, formerly of The Flock. Though American bassist Tony Levin was the first person McLaughlin wanted,[6][7] Laird had known McLaughlin for several years and accepted the invitation. Hammer was found through a mutual friendship with Miroslav Vitous of the jazz fusion group Weather Report.[5] The group's name originates from Indian spiritual leader and guru Sri Chinmoy, of whom McLaughlin had become a follower and gave him the name Mahavishnu; "Maha" meaning "great" in Sanskrit and "vishnu" named after the Hindu deity Vishnu.[8]

With the line-up secured, the five met in New York City in July 1971 and rehearsed for one week. They adopted an instrumental fusion sound characterised by electric rock, funk, complex time signatures, and arrangements influenced by McLaughlin's interest in Indian classical music. Their debut gigs followed at the Gaslight at the Au Go Go as the opening act for bluesman John Lee Hooker.[9] McLaughlin recalled: "The first set was shaky but the second set just took off and every night it was great. They wanted to hold us over and a few days after the second week ... we went into the studio".[10] McLaughlin secured a record deal with Columbia Records, giving the green-light to record an album.

 
McLaughlin in 1973 performing with the band

The Inner Mounting Flame was released in November 1971, peaking at No. 11 on the Billboard Jazz Albums and No. 89 on the Billboard 200. This was followed by Birds of Fire (1973). Due to the pressures of sudden fame, exhaustion and a lack of communication, the original band began to tire. The stress was further exacerbated by problematic recording sessions in June 1973 at London's Trident Studios that found some of the players not speaking to others. Their project was never fully completed. Cobham was disappointed and felt that the group "Were knocking on the door of something really new. Something unique, something that had never been done before in rock and roll."[11] This was followed by the release of their first live album Between Nothingness & Eternity which featured material from the Trident sessions.[1]

Later in 1973, Hammer and Goodman expressed their frustrations of McLaughlin's leadership in an interview for Crawdaddy magazine. An attempt was made to improve group relations by having each member introduced as they walked on stage and tunes by Hammer, Laird, and Goodman mixed into the live set.[5] It was not enough, however, and the five played their final gig on December 30.[12] According to Laird, the band did not say goodbye to each other afterward.[13] In January 1974, McLaughlin split the group.[12] Laird spoke about the group weeks later, claiming that despite McLaughlin composing most of the group's tunes the rest of the band contributed "a great deal" to them and did not receive credit. He was also critical of Cobham's claim that the group had rejected his musical ideas and that Hammer, Goodman, and himself pushed to have their songs performed because for "an ego trip".[13]

1974–1976: Second incarnationEdit

After the original group dissolved, it reformed in 1974 with a new cast of musicians behind McLaughlin: Jean-Luc Ponty (who had performed with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention) on violin, Gayle Moran on keyboards, Ralphe Armstrong on bass, and Narada Michael Walden on percussion, Steven Kindler and Carol Shive on violin, Marcia Westbrook on viola, Phil Hirschi on cello, Steve Frankevich and Bob Knapp on brass.[1] This "new" Mahavishnu Orchestra (which McLaughlin has reportedly called the "real" Mahavishnu Orchestra) changed personnel slightly between 1974's Apocalypse and Visions of the Emerald Beyond in 1975. Apocalypse was recorded in London with the London Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas, with George Martin producing and Geoff Emerick engineering the sessions.[1] The band was then reduced to a four-piece for 1976's Inner Worlds, with Jean-Luc Ponty leaving after a heated disagreement about writing credits on the Visions album, and Gayle Moran being replaced with Stu Goldberg. Ponty would later settle over the royalties for the tracks Pegasus and Opus 1 for an undisclosed amount of money.

1984–1987: Third incarnationEdit

After the dissolution of this version of the Orchestra, McLaughlin formed another group called Shakti to explore his interest in Indian music;[1] following that, he went on to form other bands including the One Truth Band and the Translators, and a guitar trio with Al Di Meola and flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía.

In 1984, McLaughlin reformed the Mahavishnu Orchestra with Bill Evans on saxophones, Jonas Hellborg on bass, Mitchel Forman on keyboards, and original member Billy Cobham on drums. Cobham participated in the sessions for their self-titled 1984 album, but was replaced by Danny Gottlieb for live work, and Jim Beard replaced Mitchel Forman for the latter period of this band's life. This band's overall sound was different from the original Mahavishnu Orchestra, in particular because of McLaughlin's extensive use of the Synclavier synthesizer system.

Post-Mahavishnu OrchestraEdit

McLaughlin then worked with a number of incarnations of the John McLaughlin Guitar Trio, all of which featured Trilok Gurtu on percussion, and, at various times, Jeff Berlin, Kai Eckhardt, and Dominique di Piazza on bass. He then formed the Free Spirits, a guitar, organ and drums trio, with Joey DeFrancesco on Hammond organ and trumpet, and Dennis Chambers on drums, as well as touring and recording again with Al Di Meola and Paco de Lucía.

Billy Cobham went on to perform as a solo artist, recording many albums including Total Eclipse, Crosswinds and Spectrum, and toured with the "Billy Cobham & George Duke Band" for many years.

Jan Hammer went on to collaborate with Jeff Beck (together with Narada Michael Walden) in Beck's acclaimed album Wired; and also recorded a live album with the latter. He released several solo albums and composed the theme and incidental music for the hit 1980s TV show, Miami Vice.

Jerry Goodman recorded the album Like Children with Mahavishnu keyboard alumnus Jan Hammer. Starting in 1985 he recorded three solo albums for Private Music and went on tour with his own band, as well as with Shadowfax and the Dixie Dregs.

Rick Laird played with Stan Getz and Chick Corea as well as releasing one solo LP, Soft Focus, but retired from the music business in 1982. He has worked both as a bass teacher and photographer since then.

LegacyEdit

Mahavishnu Orchestra has been cited as an influence on many bands of different genres. Greg Ginn, guitarist and main composer of hardcore punk band Black Flag, cited their early records which inspired him to record more progressive guitar work and even record instrumental albums.[14] There has been a resurgence of interest in the Mahavishnu Orchestra in recent years, with bands like The Mars Volta,[citation needed] Cynic,[citation needed] Opeth,[15] and the Dillinger Escape Plan,[16] naming them as an influence. Jon Fishman, the drummer for Phish has also cited them as an influence.[17] There have been no less than five major tribute recordings released. In addition, a book Power, Passion and Beauty: The Story of the Legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra by Walter Kolosky (AbstractLogix Books) has been published. It contains interviews with all of the band’s members and quotes obtained specifically for the book from many famous admirers such as Jeff Beck, Pat Metheny, the artist Peter Max, Bill Bruford and many more. The Mahavishnu Orchestra have also been sampled in contemporary music, most notably by Massive Attack on their track "Unfinished Sympathy", which sampled "Planetary Citizen", resulting in the band's being sued by Ralphe Armstrong, who received a healthy out-of-court settlement.[18] "You Know, You Know" was sampled on Massive Attack's "One Love" and Mos Def's "Kalifornia."

Band membersEdit

1971–1973
  • John McLaughlin - guitar
  • Jan Hammer - keyboards
  • Jerry Goodman - violin
  • Rick Laird - bass guitar
  • Billy Cobham - drums
1974–1975
  • John McLaughlin - guitar
  • Gayle Moran - keyboards, vocals
  • Jean-Luc Ponty - violin
  • Ralphe Armstrong - bass guitar
  • Narada Michael Walden - drums
1976
  • John McLaughlin - guitar
  • Stu Goldberg - keyboards
  • Ralphe Armstrong - bass guitar
  • Narada Michael Walden - drums
1976–1984 Disbanded
1984
  • John McLaughlin - guitar
  • Mitchel Forman - keyboards
  • Bill Evans - saxophone
  • Jonas Hellborg - bass guitar
  • Billy Cobham - drums
1985–1986
  • John McLaughlin - guitar
  • Mitchel Forman - keyboards
  • Bill Evans - saxophone
  • Jonas Hellborg - bass guitar
  • Danny Gottlieb - drums
1987
  • John McLaughlin - guitar
  • Jim Beard - keyboards
  • Bill Evans - saxophone
  • Jonas Hellborg - bass guitar
  • Danny Gottlieb - drums

TimelineEdit

DiscographyEdit

Studio albumsEdit

Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
US
[19]
US Jazz
[19]
AUS[20] GER
[21]
NOR
[22]
UK
[23]
The Inner Mounting Flame
  • Released: August 14, 1971[24]
  • Label: C.B.S., Columbia
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download
89 11
Birds of Fire
  • Released: March 29, 1973[25]
  • Label: C.B.S., Columbia
  • Formats: CD, CS, LP, Q8, digital download
15 38 29 18 20
Apocalypse
with London Symphony Orchestra
  • Released: March, 1974[27]
  • Label: C.B.S., Columbia
  • Formats: CD, LP, Q8, digital download
43 10 82
Visions of the Emerald Beyond
  • Released: February, 1975[28]
  • Label: C.B.S., Columbia
  • Formats: CD, CS, LP, Q8, digital download
68 18 74
Inner Worlds
  • Released: January, 1976[29]
  • Label: C.B.S., Columbia
  • Formats: CD, CS, LP, Q8, digital download
118 24
Mahavishnu
  • Released: 1984[30]
  • Label: WEA Musik, Warner Bros.
  • Formats: CD, CS, LP
Adventures in Radioland
  • Released: 1987
  • Label: Relativity, PolyGram
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download
The Lost Trident Sessions
  • Released: September 21, 1999[31]
  • Label: Sony
  • Formats: CD, HDCD, digital download
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Live albumsEdit

Title Album details Peak chart positions
US
[19]
AUS[20]
Between Nothingness & Eternity
  • Released: November, 1973[32]
  • Label: C.B.S., Columbia
  • Formats: CD, LP, Q8, digital download
41 42
Unreleased Tracks from Between Nothingness & Eternity
  • Label: C.B.S., Columbia
  • Formats: digital download

CompilationsEdit

Title Album details Peak chart positions
US
[19]
The Best of Mahavishnu Orchestra
  • Released: 1980
  • Label: Columbia, CBS
  • Formats: LP, CS, CD
The Complete Columbia Albums Collection
  • Released: 2011
  • Label: Columbia, Sony
  • Formats: CD

SourcesEdit

  • Kolosky, Walter (2006). Power, Passion and Beauty: The Story of the Legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 787. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  2. ^ "Mahavishnu Orchestra - Biography, Albums, & Streaming Radio". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  3. ^ Smith, Roger L. (1972-02-11). "Rock and Schlock". The Harvard Crimson. The Harvard Crimson Inc. Retrieved 2019-02-22. McLaughlin has chosen to work toward a musical intensity that aims inward rather than outward. There is never a wasted note, yet the improvisation by each member of the group is always present, always building and directing the music.
  4. ^ Heckman, Don (1972-07-07). "Jazz: Mahavishnu - A Trip Into Rock". The New York Times. Retrieved 2019-02-22. ...the Mahavishnu ensemble has gradually developed a form of jazz that dips into rock, blues, Indian music, “classical music” and electronics for source material, stylistic elements and aesthetic energy.
  5. ^ a b c DeLigio, Frank; Snyder-Scumpy, Patrick (November 1973). "John McLaughlin & The Mahavishnu Orchestra: Two Sides to Every Satori". Crawdaddy. Archived from the original on 8 December 2012. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  6. ^ thodoris (8 October 2012). "Interview:John McLaughlin (solo, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Miles Davis) – Hit Channel". Hit-channel.com. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  7. ^ thodoris (21 February 2013). "Interview:Tony Levin (Stick Men, King Crimson, Peter Gabriel, John Lennon) – Hit Channel". Hit-channel.com. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  8. ^ Shteamer, Hank (26 October 2017). "John McLaughlin on His Final U.S. Tour, Revisiting Mahavishnu Orchestra". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 26 December 2020.
  9. ^ "Exclusive: After 40 Years, The Mahavishnu Orchestra Looks Back". The Guitar Channel.
  10. ^ DeLigio, Frank; Snyder-Scumpy, Patrick (November 1973). "John McLaughlin & The Mahavishnu Orchestra: Two Sides to Every Satori". Crawdaddy. Archived from the original on 8 December 2012. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  11. ^ Welch, Chris (2 February 1974). "Mahavishnu Orchestra: Cobham — it ended in total fiasco". Melody Maker. Retrieved 27 December 2020 – via Rock's Backpages.
  12. ^ a b Charlesworth, Chris (2 February 1974). "John McLaughlin: It Was Natural Evolution". Melody Maker. Retrieved 26 December 2020 – via Rock's Backpages.
  13. ^ a b Alterman, Loraine (28 February 1974). "Rick Laird: Why Mahavishnu is Breaking Up". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 27 December 2020 – via Rock's Backpages.
  14. ^ Shteamer, Hank (July 2012). "#9: GREG GINN". HeavyMetalBebop.com. Manhattan, New York City. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  15. ^ Hodgson, Peter (16 September 2011). "INTERVIEW: Opeth's Mikael Åkerfeldt". iheartguitarblog.com. Retrieved 14 March 2017. Q: There’s an obvious fusion feel to a lot of the material on Heritage. Where did that come from?
    Mikael Åkerfeldt: [...] the fusion aspect comes from Mahavishnu Orchestra [...]
  16. ^ Tsimplakos, Jason (5 November 2013). "The Dillinger Escape Plan interview". Rocking.gr. Glasgow, Scotland (published 25 November 2013). Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  17. ^ Baron, Josh. "Hooking Up With Fishman". Relix. Relix Media Group. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  18. ^ Kolosky, Walter. "Mahavishnu Orchestra - Planetary Citizen". JAZZ.COM. Archived from the original on 18 May 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  19. ^ a b c d "John McLaughlin - Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  20. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 188. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  21. ^ "Home - Offizielle Deutsche Charts". Officialcharts.de. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  22. ^ Hung, Steffen. "norwegiancharts.com - Norwegian charts portal". Norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  23. ^ "Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  24. ^ "The Inner Mounting Flame - Mahavishnu Orchestra - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  25. ^ "Birds of Fire - Mahavishnu Orchestra - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  26. ^ "Gold & Platinum". RIAA. Retrieved 2020-08-03.
  27. ^ "Apocalypse - Mahavishnu Orchestra - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  28. ^ "Visions of the Emerald Beyond - Mahavishnu Orchestra - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  29. ^ "Inner Worlds - Mahavishnu Orchestra - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  30. ^ "Mahavishnu - Mahavishnu Orchestra - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  31. ^ "The Lost Trident Sessions - Mahavishnu Orchestra - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  32. ^ "Between Nothingness & Eternity - Mahavishnu Orchestra - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 June 2016.

External linksEdit