Monday, May 9, 2016
Mahavishnu Orchestra - 1973-1975  "Between Nothingness & Eternity" "Visions of the Emerald Beyond"
Mahavishnu Orchestra - 1973-1975  "Between Nothingness And Eternity"
Between Nothingness & Eternity is the first live album of Mahavishnu Orchestra, and last with the original line-up, released in 1973. According to the Mahavishnu Orchestra Gigs listing by Walter Kolosky, it was recorded live at the Schaefer Music Festival, held in Central Park, New York on August 17 and 18, 1973, even though, available recordings seems to prove that all of the material from the album was actually taken from the second night only. Originally, Mahavishnu Orchestra's third album was to be a studio one, recorded in June 1973 at Trident Studios in London, but was scrapped during the final days of the project. A live album containing versions of three out of the original six tracks came out instead. The original studio album was later released in 1999 as The Lost Trident Sessions.
Between Nothingness & Eternity was included in 2011 as part of The Complete Columbia Albums Collection boxset, along with the other albums by the first line-up of the band, including "The Lost Trident Sessions". This new version was a new different mix with an additional minute of music on "Sister Andrea". The boxset also contained an album called "Unreleased Tracks from Between Nothingness & Eternity" which contains other selections from the two Central Park shows.
The first Mahavishnu Orchestra's original very slim catalog was padded out somewhat by this live album (recorded in New York's Central Park) on which the five jazz/rock virtuosos can be heard stretching out at greater length than in the studio. There are only three selections on the disc, all of which were to have been on the group's then-unissued third album -- two of them, guitarist John McLaughlin's "Trilogy: Sunlit Path/La Merede la Mer" and keyboardist Jan Hammer's "Sister Andrea," are proportioned roughly as they were in their studio renditions, while the third, McLaughlin's "Dream," is stretched to nearly double its 11-minute studio length. Each develops organically through a number of sections, and there are fewer lockstep unison passages than on the earlier recordings. McLaughlin is as flashy and noisy as ever on double-necked electric guitar, and Hammer and violinist Jerry Goodman are a match for him in the speed department, with drummer Billy Cobham displaying a compelling, raw power and dexterity to his work as well, especially on the CD edition, which also gives bassist Rich Laird a showcase for his slightly subtler work. Yet for all of the superb playing, one really doesn't hear much music on this album; electricity and competitive empathy are clearly not enough, particularly on the 21-minute "Dream," which left a lot of fans feeling let down at the end of its side-two-filling run on the LP. In the decades since this album was released, the studio versions of these three pieces, along with other tracks being worked up for their third album, have appeared as The Lost Trident Sessions -- dating from May and June of 1973 -- thus giving fans a means of comparing this repertory to what the band had worked out (or not worked out) in the studio; and Between Nothingness and Eternity has come up a bit in estimation as a result, benefiting as it does from the spontaneity and energy of a live performance, though even that can only carry this work so far -- beyond the personality conflicts that broke up the band, they seem to have been approaching, though not quite reaching, a musical dead end as well.
1. Trilogy Medley (12:01)
... The Sunlit Path
... La Mere De La Mer
... Tomorrow's Story Not The Same
2. Sister Andrea (8:22)
3. Dream (21:24)
Total Time: 41:47
Line-up / Musicians
- Jerry Goodman / violin
- Jan Hammer / synthesizer, piano, keyboards, Moog synthesizer
- Rick Laird / bass
- John McLaughlin / synthesizer, guitar
- Sri Chinmoy / poetry
- Billy Cobham / drums
Mahavishnu Orchestra - 1975  "Visions of the Emerald Beyond"
Visions of the Emerald Beyond is an album by the jazz fusion group Mahavishnu Orchestra, and the second released by its second incarnation.
According to the liner notes, the album was recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York City from December 4 until December 14, 1974. It was then mixed at Trident Studios in London from December 16 until December 24, 1974.
As the second album to document the second Mahavishnu Orchestra, this one isn't as, well, apocalyptic as its predecessor, yet it does focus more intently on the band itself. Jean-Luc Ponty's curling electric violin lines help give this Mahavishnu band a more European sound than its predecessor, and some of the orchestral concepts of Apocalypse work their way into the picture via comments by a string trio and trumpet/sax duo. This band also had some interest in a bombastic funk direction that may have been borrowed from Mr. "Chameleon" Herbie Hancock, and would later be followed by Mahavishnu Two's drummer, Michael Walden. Gayle Moran's ethereal vocals don't date as badly as those on many jazz-rock records; at least she can sing. Overall, this Mahavishnu edition is more refined and not as aggressive as the first -- although they could charge ahead pretty hard, as "Be Happy" and "On the Way Home to Earth" demonstrate -- yet they were still capable of making memorable electric music.
Visions of the Emerald Beyond is the most-overlooked and under-appreciated recording John McLaughlin has ever made. This album, released in 1975, features an expanded Mahavishnu line-up that went beyond a horn and string section to include the dynamic Narada Michael Walden on drums and fusion superstar Jean Luc Ponty on violin.
This album is drenched in a new sort of funkiness that McLaughlin had not explored in previous Mahavishnu recordings.
"Eternity's Breath" opens the album, and right away you know you are in for a sonic treat. McLaughlin's notes are fat and strong. Walden's drumming is powerful and propulsive. Ponty's violin literally soars to heights he has never attained on his own recordings. The strings and horns do not have that superfluous quality found in many other "third-stream" efforts. They are relevant to the musical event. Vocals even pop up now and then, and although they can be somewhat "holier than thou", they too add to the orchestral milieu of Visions.
Many listeners wanting to hear a clone of the original Mahavishnu Orchestra never accepted this band. That is too bad, because MO2 had a lot to say. The band has a full and engaging sound, plus the balls to present it in a grandiose fashion.
Michael Walden's "Cosmic Strut' opened up side two of this album on the original vinyl release. Talk about FUNK! This tune envelops you in it. Walden, who has gone onto to become a superstar producer, was a great fusion writer.
"Lila's Dance" is another gem. When Branford Marsalis served as the musical director of America's Jay Leno Tonight Show, his band, also featuring the fine jazz guitarist Kevin Eubanks, would regularly perform the tune, along with "Meeting of the Spirits." Even two decades years later these tunes were too much for the establishment to take. Management told Marsalis to stop playing this type of music. That attitude, along with some other issues, convinced Branford that he no longer had a job. Eubanks has the gig now, and although he's a huge McLaughlin fan, he doesn't play any of these tunes. He wants to keep his job. That's how dangerous this music can still be.
1. Eternity's Breath Part 1 (3:10)
2. Eternity's Breath Part 2 (4:48)
3. Lila's Dance (5:34)
4. Can't Stand Your Funk (2:09)
5. Pastoral (3:41)
6. Faith (2:00)
7. Cosmic Strut (3:28)
8. If I Could See (1:18)
9. Be Happy (3:31)
10. Earth Ship (3:42)
11. Pegasus (1:48)
12. Opus 1 (0:15)
13. On The Way Home To Earth (4:34)
Total Time: 39:57
Line-up / Musicians
- John McLaughlin / 6- & 12-string guitars, vocals
- Gayle Moran / keyboards, vocals
- Jean-Luc Ponty / violins (electric & baritone electric) (10 solo)
- Ralphe Armstrong / bass, double bass, vocals
- Michael Walden / drums, percussion, clavinet, vocals
- Bob Knapp / flute, trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals
- Russell Tubbs / alto & soprano saxes
- Steven Kindler / 1st violin (5 solo)
- Carol Shive / 2nd violin, vocals
- Phillip Hirschi / cello
Posted by Crimhead420 at 9:39 PM