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 original Orchestra included Jan Hammer (later to score TV's "Miami Vice") on keyboards, Jerry Goodman on violin, Rick Laird on bass, and Billy Cobham on drums. They released two fabulous studio albums, Inner Mounting Flame and Birds of Fire, along with a disappointing live album, Between Nothingness and Eternity.
A reformation of the group in 1974 brought Jean-Luc Ponty on board to play violin, along with a host of new supporting musicians (which McLaughlin went on record as saying was the "real Mahavishnu Orchestra"). The Orchestra faded into the sunset in 1975 with the release of the excellent Visions of the Emerald Beyond album, as McLaughlin went on to greener pastures, including a wealth of solo work and further collaborations with Miles Davis and Carlos Santana.
Our Prog Rock Corner selection for August 11, 1996 was "Open Country Joy" off the album Birds of Fire, released in 1973.
Prog Rock Corner Index
Our impression of "Open Country Joy":
Blazing Goodman violin! Hot treated McLaughlin guitar solos! Fascinating rhythmic interplay! If only all fusion were as kick-ass as this. Mahavishnu Orchestra rocks our world!
Find out more about John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra:
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