Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Mahavishnu World Order

My ear is still swill and I may never hear correctly again, but for now I shall leave my sickbed to post two consecutive days. Today we celebrate the anniversary of a classic concert of an even more classic, genre-defining band some people consider the greatest group of our lifetimes.
Today's treat is in some ways the definitive document of this group, themselves often thought of as the pinnacle of the Fusion universe. Pitifully few pieces of footage rival its hour-and-twenty-two-minutes of blazing astonishment.
What strikes the mind is how little of this music sounds dated or noodly in the ways Fusion is often categorized. Not a note is wasted, and that's hard to do when you're playing three times as many notes as everyone else.
What this shit must have sounded like when these guys hit the scene like an extinction-level comet hitting the Earth I cannot speculate. Surely this is one of the top ten bands ever to exist -- in the realm of the Beatles and luminaries such as they -- in terms of what things sounded like before them and what they were afterwards.
When they arrived, Jazz and Rock had been dancing with each other for about four years. Others -- the Miles Davis Bitches Brew/Live-Evil era groups, The Fourth Way, and Larry Coryell, for instance -- had pointed the way towards a full-energy integration of the backbeat and improvisation that didn't just resemble two unrelated forms Frankenstein-ed together for profit.
But it was The Mahavishnu Orchestra that codified the genre into the behemoth of tempo and tonality it became at its peak.... not surprisingly a summit that couldn't have been approached without their 1971 advent.
Really a stone-cold supergroup at its inception, featuring five super-heavyweight players who'd all been in well-loved bands prior to their coalescing into TMO, the sonic tsunamis of passionate intensity they unleashed upon a musical landscape hungry for real challenge and innovation may never be equaled.
Did I mention I like them? Not sure if you can tell from my little screed here. Needless to say The Mahavishnu Orchestra are an essential touchstone of the music of the last 50 years, with many an aspiring player having visited the mountain ranges they constructed in the early 1970s as a necessary pilgrimage en route to establishing their own musical territories.
So let's fire it up, shall we? This is a gorgeous PAL DVD -- sourced from the Holy Grail pre-broadcast tapes from the French TV archives -- of The Mahavishnu Orchestra in full, blistering flight at the legendary Châteauvallon Ampitheatre. It was taped 45 years ago today and is in no danger, even decades later, of losing a scintilla of its potency.
Mahavishnu Orchestra
Festival de Châteauvallon
Châteauvallon, France

01 tuning
02 Meeting of the Spirits
03 The Dance of Maya
04 One Word
05 Resolution
06 Sanctuary
07 Awakening

Total time: 1:22:50

John McLaughlin - guitar
Billy Cobham - drums
Rick Laird - bass
Jan Hammer - keyboards
Jerry Goodman - violin

PAL DVD of the pre-broadcast master tapes from French TV
If it's blazing fire music you crave, you'd honestly be a fool not to click on this share... all five guys play like gods descended from Olympus and you can sense new worlds being born as the audience takes it all in, knowing exactly whose presence in which they find themselves. Anyway, pull it on down and see what all the fuss was and is about... after 82 minutes of this incendiary device, you know you'll know.--J.

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