lunedì 14 novembre 2011

The Mahavishnu Orchestra celebra i 40 anni

Il mese di novembre segna il 40° anniversario della nascita della originale Mahavishnu Orchestra la cui fenomenale esplosione la fece diventare presto la più rappresentativa tra le jazz-rock band. Infatti fu in questo mese del 1971 che la band pubblicò il suo album di debutto, The Inner Mounting Flame, e iniziò un tour di concerti interminabile. La prima versione del gruppo durò solo 30 mesi, ma quattro decenni più tardi la sua influenza è ancora molto forte.
Proprio nel mese di novembre sarà pubblicato dalla Sony Legacy un cofanetto di 5 Cd's che includerà i primi tre album della band e materiale live inedito tratto da concerti al Mar Y Sol Festival del 1972 e dal grande concerto a Central Park del 1973.
Il sito The Guitar Channel ha pubblicato un bellissimo articolo di Walter Kolosky autore dei libri Power, Passion and Beauty – The Story of the Legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra e Follow Your Heart - John McLaughlin song by song.

Ecco un estratto dell'articolo:
In 1971, toward the end of English guitarist John McLaughlin’s stint with The Tony Williams Lifetime and some historic appearances on pivotal Miles Davis albums, Davis suggested it was time for McLaughlin to put together a band of his own. Mahavishnu John McLaughlin, as he was known after being given the spiritual moniker by Guru Sri Chinmoy, populated the original Mahavishnu Orchestra with an international cast of characters. Violinist Jerry Goodman was from Chicago, drummer Billy Cobham was born in Panama, bassist Rick Laird was Irish, and keyboard player Jan Hammer had been a child prodigy in communist Czechoslovakia. Jazz had a strong influence on all of the players, save the classically trained Goodman, who played mostly rock and folk in the band The Flock.
It was a period of great experimentation and cross-pollination in popular music. Still, the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s odd-metered ultra high-volume mix of jazz, rock and blues, all infused with an (Asian) Indian subtext, was an unexpected hit on the pop music charts. This new music beat you about the arms and legs, but somehow managed to also inject a dose of spiritual Zen.
Though the Mahavishnu Orchestra didn’t invent jazz-rock, it was through its virtuosity that the music coalesced into a tangible genre. The jazz-rock era started with great promise from the likes of Miles Davis, Tony Williams, Weather Report, Return to Forever, the Eleventh House, Herbie Hancock, the Mahavishnu Orchestra and some others. The Mahavishnu Orchestra’s 1973 album Birds of Fire even cracked the Billboard pop music charts reaching #15. Aggressive instrumental music like this had never been accepted in such a way.
Thousands of fans showed up to fill large venues as the Mahavishnu Orchestra seemed to be on one long continuous tour. The music unrelentingly pushed out from the stage at gale force winds. The loud violence of it could, at times, threaten to separate you from your skeleton. Yet, there was a beauty to it as well. Listeners were left stunned in the wake of McLaughlin’s supersonic flights, Cobham’s power, Goodman’s soaring and Hammer’s deftness. All the while, bassist Laird somehow managed to keep everyone in some sort of line.  Drummer Dennis Chambers remembers staying in his seat a long time after attending his first Mahavishnu Orchestra concert. “It felt like I had stuck my finger in a light socket. I couldn’t sleep for 48 hours.” Guitarist Pat Metheny described his experience as “face-melting.” (He meant that in a good way.) Rock stars like Carlos Santana, Jeff Beck, Sting and many others became fans and were influenced by the band.
For all of its exciting promise, with few exceptions, the jazz-rock movement all but fizzled out several years later when greedy recording executives predicted a larger market for a simplified watered down version of the music. In what may be one of the most ironic outcomes in music history, dumbed-down jazz-rock became the unwitting stepfather of smooth jazz. There were a few brave musicians who fought against The Wave, but they were commercially drowned out. In a business world that creates and then worships its own demographic models and sees art as only a numbers game, innovation and virtuosity didn’t stand a chance.
As for the Mahavishnu Orchestra itself, the pressures of sudden fame, complete exhaustion from an over-rigorous tour schedule, and communication breakdowns eventually led to frayed nerves and turmoil. The original line-up did not make it to 1974. For decades, several of the band members did not speak to each other. Over the last five years, however, there has been some thawing of tensions. Jerry Goodman visited John McLaughlin at his home and showed-up at one of John’s concerts in California. John introduced him from the stage. Rick Laird attended a John McLaughlin concert in New York City. When they met afterward, it was the first time they had seen each other in over 25 years. Jan Hammer has recorded on both a Billy Cobham album and a Jerry Goodman project. Cobham has recorded for the same Goodman album (not yet released). Hell froze over last year when Billy Cobham and John McLaughlin agreed to a last minute request from Montreux Jazz Festival director Claude Nobs to perform as a duo. (Additionally, it seems that in 2011, McLaughlin and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, from the second version of the Orchestra, mended fences.)
Elliott Sears, the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s road manager, looks back. “I can’t believe it’s been forty years. I knew Jerry Goodman since we were kids. He had joined this new group and he helped me get a job as road manager for its first tour, which was on the East Coast. I had always wanted to see that part of the country, so why not? Well, that East Coast tour was just the beginning. We went to three continents and put on 535 shows! It was an incredible experience to work with such great musicians and it doesn’t surprise me one bit that their music continues to influence the generations that have followed.”....
(continua a leggere sul sito originario)

Ecco un video della The Mahavishnu Orchestra, che presentano You Know You Know registrata live in Germania nel 1972:

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