2 CD SET - 25 Tracks // 24 pages booklet !!!!
Paying affectionate homage to jazz greats is a tricky business, especially when it comes to an artist like John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra is considered by many to be the greatest Jazz-fusion group of all time. The group was formed in late 1970-early 1971 by McLaughlin, a brilliant guitarist with a jazz-rock pedigree that included work with the Graham Bond Organisation in the mid-60s, and with the electrified Miles Davis on his landmark "Bitches Brew" LP in 1969. The Mahavishnu Orchestra released a couple of records, including the incredible “Inner Mounting Flame” and “Birds of Fire”. They played with sophisticated improvisations and played incredibly loud during their live sets. The band utilized complex arrangements along with virtuoso solos and pioneered usage of indian music rhythms and electronic synthesizers.
With the rediscovery of jazz and fusion roots by a new generation, the Mahavishnu Orchestra stands out as one of the most influential artists of the genre. “MAHAVISHNU Re-Defined” is a double CD compilation featuring tracks by various modern artists either creating their own dynamic arrangements of John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra - compositions or producing original sonic paintings based on Mahavishnu consciousness. Featured are former McLaughlin members Billy Cobham, Mitchel Forman, Dennis Chambers, Russell Tubbs, Jim Beard, Matt Garrison, Gary Husband and Vinnie Colaiuta as well as an assemblage of excellent musicians and bands from all over the world. Nguyên Lê, Renau Garcia-Fons, Tino Di Geraldo, Kudsi Erguner, Pascal Bournet, HR Big Band, Ron Thaler, Gregg Bendian, Adam Holzman, Glenn Alexander, Eric Friedlander, John Patitucci, Trinity, Mahavishnu Project, Billy Ward, Pete McCann, John Stowell, Lucas Pickford & Steve Hunt, Gustavo Assis Brasil , John Bruschini, Jon Herington, Bob Malach, Jim Nolet, Jeff Hirshfield, Wild Strings Quartet, Radio.string.quartet.vienna , Vic Stevens, Percy Jones, David Fiuczynski, Gianfranco Continenza, Mark Egan, Mads Tolling, Göran Klinghagen, Richard Smith, etc.
Yorkshire (UK)-born Gary Husband, drummer, pianist/keyboardist starts CD 1 with a unusual, very percussive piano solo-version of “Celestial Terrestrial Commuters”. Gary is playing actually with John’s new band 4th Dimension.
Track 2 features French-Vietnamese guitarist Nguyên Lê, who has cultivated his own unique voice on the instrument with a folk fusion track onm his own incorporating the influence of John McLaughlin with “Dding Dek”, featuring RENAULD GARICA-FONS / bass, TINO DI GERALDO / drums & percussion, KUDSI ERGUNER / ney flute and ILLYA AMAR / marimba, tuned gongs.
Since gaining international recognition for his work with John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra and then Wayne Shorter during the mid 80’s, Mitchel Forman has proven to be one of the elite jazz and fusion keyboard players in the world today. This is a quirky cover version from “Birds of Fire”: “Thousand Island Park” (3) !
Not many classical guitar players out there can express emotion through the instrument the way Frenchman Pascal Bournet does. It is amazing how effortlessly Pascal makes the tune sound so simple. “Guardian Angels” (4).
There are easier exercises than transforming songs into a big band context which formerly have been created for smaller line-ups. The HR-Big Band (from Frankfurt / Germany) made it! With Colin Towns, who was the ideal choice for the task of arranging the music, supported by the input of the original Mahavishnu drummer, Billy Cobham, who lends his authentic experience to the project, and drives the band from the drum chair in his usual formidable fashion. The result is “Eternity’s Breath Parts 1 & 2”. (5)
Track 6 comes from US-drummer Ron Thaler: a John Abercrombie (!) ballad which sounds like a typical Mahavishnu composition, a piece of introverted music for very late at night. . “Some Timeless” - featured are CHRIS CLARK / keyboards, RON BERTOLET / alto sax and JEFF CARNEY / bass.
Drummer/composer/producer Gregg Bendian is widely known for his groundbreaking work with Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Pat Metheny, Derek Bailey, John Zorn, George Garzone, Evan Parker, Interstellar Space Revisited (with Nels Cline), and the bands INTERZONE and TRIO PIANISSIMO. Bendian founded THE MAHAVISHNU PROJECT in 2001 as a live jazz-rock repertory outlet for the seminal compositions of John McLaughlin & The Mahavishnu Orchestra. McLaughlin himself has called the project "quite amazing" and "unbelievable". This live version of “Sanctuary” is what the phrase cutting edge was invented for – and an impressive interpretation ! Featuring:
GLENN ALEXANDER / guitar, ZACH BROCK / violin, ADAM HOLZMAN / keyboards, DAVE JOHNSON / bass, MATT SZEMELA / violin, JEREMY KITTEL / violin, JON WEBER / viola, LEIGH STUART / cello,
MELISSA STYLIANOU / voice and former Mahvavishnu player PREMIK RUSSELL TUBBS / alto flute, soprano saxophone. (7)
Track 8 features Jim Beard. While racking up an astonishing list of sideman credentials over the past twenty years—having toured with the likes of John McLaughlin, Wayne Shorter, John Scofield and Pat Metheny – keyboardist Jim Beard has also distinguished himself as an accomplished composer, arranger and producer who has made significant contributions to recordings by Mike Stern, Michael Brecker, etc. On “In All Her Finery”, his own composition, is making up the bulk –
and sounds like a perfect interlude before the next storm. Featured are MARC QUINONES, AARON HEICK, STAN HARRISON, TODD REYNOLDS, ERIK FRIEDLANDER, JOHN PATITUCCI and BILLY WARD.
One to watch out for, Pete McCann is already gathering rave notices as an exceptional guitar player and composer, treading the lines between jazz and rock. “JM”, who McCann considers to be “one of the all time great guitar Gods”, lives up to McLaughlin’s name as McCann explores the “moody” harmonic limits of the tune, stretching the boundaries in a chaotic fashion of screaming, overdriven, whammy bar splendor. The mix of sax and overdriven guitar near the outro is dramatic as is the break from gnarly guitar to clean. Featured on this Pete McCann composition are JOHN O’GALLAGHER / Sax, JOHN HERBERT / bass, MARK FERBER / drums and MIKE HOLOBER / piano
In the age of mediocrity and clones, John Stowell’s uniqueness and originality are a breath of fresh air. John is a unique jazz guitarist influenced as much by pianists and horn players as he is by guitarists. This is just a warm acoustic interpretation of “A Lotus On Irish Streams” (10)
Track 11 comes from Germany’s extraordinary project Trinity.
Supported John McLaughlin and his band in the 90s with Triton in Hamburg at Jazzport Festival, now german guitarist Franz Holtmann took pleasure in getting his very private little interpretation of these unique highlights of musical eternity. Keyboarder Matthias Krauss plays a highly inspired solo through the first section of this two-part piece reminding of that particular “Visions of an Emerald Beyond” concept and then a late meeting of the spirits takes place in part two together with bassman Gudze and and drummer Jost Nickel. Do you hear the voices that you left behind, John? Their composition is called “Visions of Fire”.
Lucas Pickford is an excellent bassist who has found his own voice amid the saturating influences of Jaco, Stanley Clarke, Jonas Hellborg and Jeff Berlin. Here he partners with keyboardist Steve Hunt, who has worked prominently with Billy Cobham, Allan Holdsworth and other major fusion players and Indian percussionist Vinay Kantak. John McLaughlin is clearly a profound influence - "The Wish" features Pickford on both sarod and bass. He, Hunt and percussionist Vinay Kantak do a fine job of navigating the tune's demanding rhythmic shifts. (12)
Based in Boston, Gustavo Assis Brasil is considered one of the best hybrid pickers around
“The same Day” is his own composition and features José Pienasola / bass and Mauricio Zottarelli / drums. (13)
CD 2 starts with Bristol based WILD STRINGS QUARTET and their version of “Trilogy”.
The WSQ play pastoral arrangements of John McLaughlin's wonderful music, in particular the music he wrote for the incendiary Mahavishnu Orchestra. This is a labour of love for all concerned and we offer our deepest praise and sincere gratitude to John McLaughlin for the original inspiration and the ever Inner Mounting Aspiration his music has created. Featuring MARCO ANDERSON / 6- & 12 string guitars, PHILIP GIBBS / guitar & tenor guitar, ALE FERNANDEZ / guitar, PETER EVANS / violin & string samples and RON SAVAGE / acoustic bass.
Track 2 comes from N.Y.C. JOHN BRUSCHINI guitarist, who is well known for his versatility and has performed in many of the city’s popular clubs and performance spaces including The Knitting Factory, Visiones, Condon’s, S.O.B.’s, The 55 Bar, CBGB’s and other venues. Performing with the likes of Cecil Taylor, Dave Douglas and Myra Melford, guitarist John Bruschini may be a known quantity in the New York City environs. On “Way Down” he has put together a great band - Robert Aries [keyboards] (John Scofield, Bill Evans [sax]), Jeff Hirshfield [drums] (Dr. John, John Zorn, Randy Brecker, Kenny Wheeler, Paul Bley), Jim Nolet [viola] (Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry), Kip Reed [bass] (Gil Evans, Tania Maria).
The Radio.string.quartet.vienna is usually found in the classical section, but this outfit are causing a stir on the back of their subtle but energised interpretations of the Mahavishnu classics.
The arrangement of John McLaughlin’s 1970’s composition(s) touch a nerve with many former Mahavishnu-fans. They are, to put it simply, terrific of tone, virtuosity and balance. The general quality level, as well as all the particulars of communicative virtuosity, places the quartet right up there with the best on today's international scene. Listen to “Meeting Of The Spirits”.
Featured are BERNIE MALLINGER / violin, JOHANNES DICKBAUER / violin, CYNTHIA LIAO / viola
And ASJA VALCIC / cello. (3)
A formidable, ferocious and ultrafunky presence behind the kit in such celebrated ensembles as Parliament-Funkadelic, Steely Dan, Santana and the Brecker Brothers as well as incendiary fusion outfits led by guitarists John Scofield, Mike Stern and John McLaughlin, Dennis Chambers is everyone’s choice for all world drummer. Dennis does give drum fanatics plenty to drool over on Jon Herington’s dramatic "Paris On Mine", the guitarist’s nod to John McLaughlin’s "New York On My Mind" (from 1978’s “Electric Guitarist”). With BOB MALACH / tenor sax, JIM BEARD / Hammond B3, acoustic piano, MATTHEW GARRISON / bass and MICHAEL DAVIS / trombone. (4)
Title No. 5 comes from Göran Klinghagen, an amazing and colourful Swedish guitar player who has been working and recording with many famous Scandinavian jazz musicians such as Bobo Stenson, Anders Jormin, Lars Danielsson, Palle Danielsson, Arild Andersen, and Jon Christensen to name a few. Here Klinghagen is making his tribute “Do You Hear The Voices That You Left Behind” to one of his biggest influences, John McLaughlin, together with the great bass player Christian Spering and Leroy Lowe on drums. Originally the tune was recorded on quartet but here is a trio version with solos from everybody in the group.
Track 6 combines two tracks from drummer/composer/producer Gregg Bendian – featuring the string section of his band, THE MAHAVISHNU PROJECT ! Arranged by Gregg for string quartet and singer Melissa Stylianou this quartet/quintet has the chops, the guts, the soul, the spirit, and the taste required to carry on the musical legacy of John McLaughlin. Recorded live at the 3rd Annual VishnuFest. Titles are: “La Mere De La Mer / Smile of the Beyond”. The string quartet features
MATT SZEMELA / 1st violin, JEREMY KITTEL / 2nd violin, JON WEBER / viola, and LEIGH STUART / cello, and is featured by MELISSA STYLIANOU / voice
As a drummer having covered the musical scene from jazz legend Pat Martino to fusion great Allan Holdsworth with Gongzilla, it’s no wonder Vic Stevens playing and writing abilities draw from so many influences. His burning desire for more are captured within his music. He is making authentic music that is about who he is. Vic’s quartet – guitarist David Fiuczynski, bassist Percy Jones (ex-Brand X) and keyboardist Demetrios Pappas – is doing great here with this adrenaline-soaked piece of jazz rock. (7)
The Mahavishnu Orchestra’s release of “Inner Mountain Flame” cemented composer / bassist, Kimo Williams’ dedication to music. The driving rhythms, unique harmonic concepts and odd time signatures propelled him to study music with an urgency to find his own artistic voice. He formed his 27 member fusion-rock ensemble The Paumalu Symphony while studying at Berklee College in Boston. He subsequently, created his own harmonic concept called “Diagonal Harmony” and continued to present his music through this ensemble now called KIMOTION.
Here is Kimo’s interpretation of a Vinnie Colaiuta (!) composition dedicated to John McLaughlin called “John’s Blues”. Performed live in Malibu California at Pepperdine University. (8)
Another effort from French master guitarist Pascal Bournet, together with extraordinary cellist Enrique Alberti - with a folksy version of “Open Country Joy”. This is Mahavishnu Orchestra music pared down to the minimum. The fluidity of their playing put Bournet and Alberti leagues ahead of any other John McLaughlin-dominated tribute. This duo clearly knows this music, and their playing is faultless and beautiful. (9)
Gianfranco Continenza is an extraordinary musician – and one of the hottest guitar players in Italy. Gianfranco is a real treat to listen to. A great guitar playing, composition, and a really fantastic band that plays together! For the John McLaughlin classic “One Word” he is joined by former Pat Metheny member Mark Egan on bass and his long time partners Alessandro Centofanti / keyboards and Walter Martino on drums. These four musicians can handle the pure engery level of the original track. (10)
Mads Tolling, internationally renowned two time Grammy Winning violinist, violist, and composer, has been a member of Turtle Island Quartet since 2003. Tolling grew up in Copenhagen, Denmark and moved to the U.S. at the age of 20 to pursue jazz studies. Tolling has performed more than 100 concerts with Stanley Clarke’s new band worldwide and has performed with Paquito d’Rivera, Kenny Barron, Joe Lovano, Stefon Harris, The Assad Brothers and Leo Kottke to mention a few.
On “Song for John” he is introducing his own trio. “Song To John” was composed by bassist Stanley Clarke and keyboardist Chick Corea as a tribute to Coltrane for Clarke’s “Journey to Love” album in 1975. Mads Tolling’s arrangement truncates the original piece’s lengthy opening while retaining the conversational conceit through a mix of solos and ensemble choruses. He is joined by Mike Abraham on guitar and George Ban-Weiss on the bass. (11)
Richard Smith is a session player and recording artist who lives in Los Angeles, California.
Richard is also a Senior Professor and Chair of the Studio/Jazz Guitar department at the University of Southern California. Richard is a fine player in the pop-jazz style, with a crisp and clean tone that falls into the George Benson mold. On “Cosmic Strut”, composed by Mahavishnu drummer Narada Michael Walden, Smith is joined by keyboarder HANS ZERMUEHLEN. Result is a funk-a-licious grooveable track (!). (12).
“MAHAVISHNU Re-Defined” is a compilation featuring an incredibly wide assemblage of musicians, most of whom, although likely unknown to listeners, have not only been influenced by the Mahavishnu Orchestra, but have gone on to create spectacular and unique music that ventures far beyond that of their mentors - some of the new material is equally compelling.