Stay home, stay safe, work on those Mahavishnu tunes…
This is a fabulous performance of the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s ‘Trilogy’, three months ago in Italy. Stick around till 9:45 in. I hope Gary can see the funny side of it now 🙂
Just ‘out’ today, it seems: a ‘grey area’ live album featuring three US radio broadcasts 1971-72. I’m posting here rather than as a noticeboard item cos I don’t have an image to upload (a required part of posting a Noticeboard item). The 1971 recording, incidentally, is the earliest MO live recording around.
Forty-seven years ago yesterday, 30 December 1973, the Mahavishnu Orchestra Mk1 (John McLaughlin, Jan Hammer, Jerry Goodman, Rick Laird Laird, Billy Cobham) imploded in the snow.
Here is an extract from ‘Bathed in Lightning’ covering that period, and a fabulous recording from their fourth-last-ever concert, New York’s Avery Fisher Hall on December 27th:
Over two editions of Britain’s New Musical Express back in July 1973 Ian MacDonald had taken stock of John McLaughlin’s career thus far, from a time when he ‘had a reputation for being one of the remotest and most difficult people to work with in London’ to his current status as a ‘Hero’ who ‘bestrides the world of the electric guitar like a solitary colossus’. ‘Ridiculous speed is the transcendental essence of McLaughlin’s recent work with the Mahavishnu Orchestra,’ he wrote. ‘[T]he fastest passages in The Inner Mounting Flame and Birds Of Fire are now being played so swiftly that the ear has difficulty in separating bar from bar, let alone note from note… This, in purely musical terms, means that in about six months’ time the Orchestra will be no more than a shrill aural blur with the members fading visibly into hyper-space, like Captain » Continue Reading.
This is interesting… (well, okay, you’ll probably think I went too far there 😀 ) In summer 1975, John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra (rock band with guitar maestro dressed in white + orchestral string trio) co-headlined a US tour with Jeff Beck. If John had said to Jeff, ‘I’ve just had this premonition – in 44 years you’ll still be touring the US, dressed in white, with orchestral strings, playing Mahavishnu music…’
I wonder will the great man perform this 1975 Mahavishnu classic, unearthed for his 4th Dimension set during his 2017 ‘Farewell America’ tour? Let’s hope so…
Channel 5 seem to think so:
Here’s a montage video I’ve just created for the rare Lifetime non-album single ‘One Word’, recorded in New York in July 1970 and released solely in Britain in October 1970. Featuring ‘ex-Miles Davis’ alumni John McLaughlin (guitar) and Tony Williams (drums), ex-Cream alumnus Jack Bruce (bass/vocals) and Hammond organ sensation Larry Young the group should have been huge.
There were several problems, however: (1) they refused to allow promoters to use their past connections on any publicity; (2) they had three managers between the four of them; (3) they were all broke apart from Jack, who was putting a lot of his own money into keeping them together and bringing them to Britain for an extensive period at the end of 1970; (4) their music was extremely loud and extremely challenging, being somewhere between jazz, rock and ‘free improvisation’ – a high-volume cacophony – and as liable to infuriate purists of all three as it was to intrigue; (5) their recordings – two albums and this one single – were all flawed in one way or another (something diehards said at the time let alone subsequently). Lots of top jazz and rock artists claimed to have seen the most » Continue Reading.
I see there’s a 5CD Upstarts box set being advertised. Is it time for a reappraisal? Should they be numbered among The Greats? (* thinks he knows answer to this already…*) Anyone got any anecdotes?
…somebody called John McLin – maybe the presenter thought there were no Laughs involved. The walk-on music is ghastly – but hearty congratulations to John for the award, for his solo on the Mahavishnu re-run ‘Miles Beyond’ on ‘Live At Ronnie Scott’s’.
At last, Mozza has come clean, revealing his long-suspected Mahavishnu influence in this concert performance from last year that features the biggest gong in rock since Billy Cobham – used in battle from 4.26 on…
I’ve hesitated to start a new thread on this, as I posted a tour heads-up thread and a ‘wow – he’s back to double-neck’ thread within the past couple of months, and I fear annoying people with too much Maha… But… dammit, John McLaughlin has just played his last ever tour in America, where he made his name (relocating to New York in 1969 after a remarkable 10-year British career under the radar, but popping up in all sorts of places, traversing all sorts of scenes – a Zelig of the Swinging 60s in London) and where the Mahavishnu Orchestra burned bright and then burned out, 1971-75.
It may well be that he has played his last ever show (as opposed to tour) in America – at UCLA Royce Hall, Los Angeles, a couple of days ago. The tour was remarkable for him playing a load of Mahavishnu tunes for the first time in decades, including a full separate two-band set of the stuff with tour co-headliners Jimmy Herring’s Invisible Whip.
Here then is a glimpse of the last homage in America to the Greatest Band That Ever Was, ‘Eternity’s Breath’:
Any Ellingtonians out there? I’m looking for a way in (hundreds of recordings, multiple eras, multiple band formats, etc) – the extent of my current knowledge is the Dan’s recording of East St. Louis Toodle-oo…..
I’m familiar with the usual suspects in 50s and 60s bebop and postbop (Monk, Miles’ quintets, Charlie Parker) but I’ve managed to bypass Duke Ellington completely.
Any help gratefully received…..
John McLaughlin’s farewell US tour began yesterday in Buffalo, NY. A few short cameraphone clips have appeared (mostly bits of ‘Meeting of the Spirits’) but this one’s a revelation. Though distant, JM is clearly playing a double-neck, presumably a PRS model. Prompted by the interviewer, he joked about asking the PRS luthier to make him such a thing in a recent ‘Jazz Times’ interview. I would guess that PRS had one lying around and, after the JT interview, gave the great man a call.
This is a glimpse of the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s ‘Trilogy’, clearly part of the end of night set with the JM band joined by Jimmy Herring’s band:
The question when you set up your profile on the Afterword site. Those of you who might have answered neither: who would you choose instead? The mighty Who? The Kinks? Principal Edward’s Magic Theatre? I choose Yardbirds…
The great man is touring the US for the last time in the month few weeks, playing Mahavishnu music in quantity for the first time in decades. Here’s his promo vid:
I’ve just noticed that someone has posted a high quality version of the great ‘Smile of the Beyond’, from MO II’s Montreux performance in 1974 (which, bafflingly, was among the 60-odd minutes omitted from the official DVD of the show) – and it has to be shared!
Rare in the MO canon in being primarily a vocal item, featuring the exquisite Gayle Moran, the studio recording of this was among the late George Martin’s favourite productions, done in one take.
But fear not, bolted on to the song is a 20-minute wig-out.
Best known as an obscure outpost in BBC Radio 4’s late-night Shipping Forecast, Valencia is also the location of an outpost of Boston’s Berklee College, the home of jazz degrees. John’s former Mahavishnu Orchestra colleague Rick Laird went there (Boston) in the middle 60s, as did his estwhile collaborators Howard Riley and Michael Gibbs.
On July 10, a couple of weeks ago, John only had to go as far as Valencia (from his home in Monaco) to receive an honorary doctorate in music, presented by Berklee President Roger H. Brown.
As the press release puts it:
Berklee’s honorary doctorate recipients are recognised for their achievements and influences in music, and for their enduring contributions to American and international culture. Past recipients include Duke Ellington (the first, in 1971), Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Smokey Robinson, Steven Tyler, Loretta Lynn, Juan Luis Guerra, Annie Lennox, Paco de Lucia, Carole King, Willie Nelson, George Clinton, Rita Moreno, Lionel Richie, and A. R. Rahman. Honorary doctorates have previously been awarded at the Valencia campus to Eddie Gómez (2013) and Plácido Domingo (2014).
John performed as a special guest at the commencement concert at the Palau de les Arts Reina » Continue Reading.
As a ‘bonus track’ to my recent thread about an adventurous weekend of music, my troubadouring and songwriting guest Buddy Mondlock was talking about list songs in my kitchen (that’s where he was talking about them – there were no list songs in my kitchen, per se) and I said, ‘Like Neil Diamond’s ‘Done Too Soon’?’
‘You’ve never heard it?’
Because it’s on all of Neil’s best-ofs I assumed it must have been a big US hit back in the day but, no, it was only a Billboard #65. Who knew?
Still, it’s a track on one of my all-time favourite records, Neil’s ’12 Greatest Hits’ (a mid 70s vinyl comp). I played it for him, realising – as I always do – that there are several lines I’ve never been able to work out. They sound like random goobledegook – albeit very effectively emotive ones. (Similarly with ‘Holly Holy’, Neil can somehow make near nonsense sound utterly profound through the sheer commitment of his performance and the brilliance of his chord changes/arrangements.)
So I’ve finally got around to looking the lyrics up. I still don’t know who seven of these people are, but at least I know » Continue Reading.
Last November I sped down to Dublin (100 miles south) to see Irish jazz guitar legend Tommy Halferty’s 70th birthday concert. I was unfamiliar with Tom’s music, though I knew the name. (I realise there will be several Afterworders who will now tell me they have 20 of his albums and how come I don’s – but there just isn’t enough time in the world to hear everything, especially if a large part of your day job is documenting things that happened 50 years ago.) I went because I’d just heard the great Norma Winstone would be there, a fabulous English singer of 50 years standing (hence, I knew her vintage works…).
The whole show – a set with Norma then a trio set then a one-off septet, playing seven pieces of Tom’s arranged for the occasion by bassist Ronan Guilfoyle who, as far as I can see, sort of runs Irish jazz.
It was professionally filmed and here is a wonderful edit of some of the evening with great sound.
It was uploaded in March, but I’ve only noticed it tonight. The reason I did was because my friend Scott Flanigan – a fabulous pianist and arguably Ireland’s leading » Continue Reading.
…came out before Tim Buckley’s own version. Who knew?
Rummaging through early 60s music magazines, one is struck by the wealth of hit-makers and personalities who are all but forgotten today. You wouldn’t believe how big the Bachelors were, for instance, and names like Mark Wynter, Adrienne Poster, Carol Deene, Susan Maughan, Daryl Quist, Frankie Vaughan and many more.
Another was Karl Denver. Here he is in the mid 70s in a frankly mind-boggling performance. Be warned, it contains a fusion solo.
…appears to be Martin Hughes-Games. Having apparently gone down an evolutionary dead-end (by being a middle-aged white man) somewhere in between Winterwatch and Springwatch, with his place in the eco-system seemingly having been supplanted by another species (a young black woman), the lesser-spotted MHG staged a heroic comeback at the start of this current Springwatch series, having benefitted from some excellent conservation (i.e. lots of people writing to Radio Times saying it wasn’t fair).
But it may only have been an Indian summer, a last hurrah… From managing to more or less tolerably share the eco-system with the new entrant during the first couple of days of Springwatch, the MHG was soon pushed out of its natural habitat, forced to migrate from Sherbourn first to North Wales – momentarily invading the territory of a hardier beast, a Iolo Williams, down by the sand dunes, before being driven north the following day, to be spotted hanging around a beaver’s dam in Perthshire.
Concerned wildlife experts and media commentators anticipate it can only be a matter of days before this individual, believed the last of his species, will be lured to the uttermost north – somewhere around, say, the Shetlands – by » Continue Reading.
Here’s a question for the French-speaking AW massif – is John McLaughlin stating that he met George Martin during a Peter & Gordon session around 5 mins in here? In what I don’t doubt is a wide-ranging interview… in a language I can’t speak…
I’m thinking of doing a bit of crowdsourcing – after a suggestion by Twang – for one of the music biog books I’m working on. I’d always planned it to be a limited edition self-published affair, and I could stretch to just about doing it myself (finding the two or three weeks necessary to get the text finished is the problem at the moment, with other calls on my time) but the Kickstarter route seems attractive. Anyone got any advice or direct experience?