Various Artists: Mahavishnu Redefined: A Tribute to John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra (2009)
With guitar icon John McLaughlin's greater visibility, thanks to recent tours with his 4th Dimension group and Five Peace Band collaboration with pianist Chick Corea, there's been a flurry of reassessment of his vast and vital output as a repertory source. Drummer Gregg Bendian's Mahavishnu Project delivered first-time performances with Return to the Emerald Beyond (Cuneiform, 2007), guitarist Jeff Richman's Visions of an Inner Mounting Apocalypse (Tone Center, 2005) recruited name guitarists to rework classic Mahavishnu Orchestra (MO) material, 4th Dimension keyboardist/percussionist Gary Husband delivered a deeply personal solo piano tribute with A Meeting of the Spirits and radio.string.quartet.vienna unleashed the remarkable Celebrating the Mahavishnu Orchestra, where MO's raw power was reworked for a far-from-conventional chamber group.
Many of these artists and more appear on Mahavishnu Redefined: A Tribute to John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, a generous double-disc of music written or inspired by McLaughlin that, in its broad range, demonstrates just how pervasive the guitarist's reach is. There are tracks from existing tributes, including Husband's reverent yet harmonically reworked "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters," from MO's classic Birds of Fire (Columbia, 1973) and radio.string.quartet.vienna's remarkable version of "Meeting of the Spirits," originally on MO's debut, Inner Mounting Flame (Columbia, 1971)a sound that shook the world, and here retains its raw electricity, even while unplugged. Bendian has provided previously unreleased live recordings from his annual VishnuFest, including his 11-piece incarnation working a potent extended version of Birds of Fire's "Sanctuary," as well as two songs featuring the group's string quartet and vocalist Melissa Stylianou.
Equally, there are unique reworks of McLaughlin material, ranging from acoustic guitarist Pascal Bournet's challenging look at "Guardian Angels," from McLaughlin's Electric Dreams (Columbia, 1978) and, in duet with cellist Enrique Alberti, a joyous version of Birds of Fire's countrified "Open Country Joy," to MO drummer Billy Cobham's HR Big Band collaboration on a swinging version of the 1975 Columbia date, Visions of the Emerald Beyond's "Eternity's Breath."
The most revealing music on Mahavishnu Redefined is, however, the original music, where McLaughlin's deep influence can be felt, even as the artists assert their own individuality. Guitarist Nguyên Lê's "Dding Dek" takes McLaughlin's Indo-centricity farther east to Vietnam, yet the ascending chords that form the basis of his solo are unmistakable. Keyboardist Jim Beard's distinctive octet of woodwinds and strings create the beautiful "In All Her Finery," while Trinity Xperiment's "Visions of Fire" possesses unmistakable references to early MO. Drummer Dennis Chambers references the structure of "New York on My Mind," from McLaughlin's Electric Guitarist (Columbia, 1978), with guitarist Jon Herington's "Paris on Mine." In a once-removed reference, drummer Ron Thaler's quartet reworks the title track to John Abercrombie's Timeless (ECM, 1975) an album over which the spirit of McLaughlin loomed large.
Just as Mysterious Voyages (ESC, 2005) demonstrated the enduring nature and influence of Weather Report, so too does Mahavishnu Redefined prove that McLaughlin's legacywhile still far from completehas reached more than one generation of musician and, no doubt, will continue to influence many more.
Track Listing: CD1: Celestial Terrestrial Commuters (Gary Husband); Dding Dek (Nguyên Lê); Thousand Island Park (Mitchel Forman); Guardian Angels (Pascal Bournet); Eternity's Breath Pt. 1 + 2 (HR Big Band feat. Billy Cobham); Some Timeless (Ron Thaler); Sanctuary (Mahavishnu Project); In All Her Finery (Jim Beard); JM (Pete McCann); A Lotus on Irish Streams (John Stowell); Visions of Fire (Trinity Xperiment); The Wish (Lucas Pickford & Steve Hunt); The Same Day (Gustavo Assis-Brasil). CD2: Trilogy (Wild Strings Quartet); Way Down (John Bruschini); Meeting of the Spirits (radio.string.quartet.vienna); Paris on Mine (Dennis Chambers); Do You Hear the Voices You Left Behind (Göran Klinghagen Trio); La Mere De La Mer / Smile of the Beyond (Mahavishnu Project String Quartet); Would you like to dance? (Vic Stevens); John's Blues (Kimo Williams & Kimotion); Open Country Joy (Pascal Bournet & Enrique Alberti); One Word (Gianfranco Continenza); Song to John (Mads Tolling); Cosmic Strut (Richard Smith).
Personnel: Gary Husband: piano and "in piano" percussion (CD1#1); Nguyên Lê: guitar (CD1#2); Renaud Garcia-Fons: vbass (CD1#2); Tino di Geraldo: drums and percussion (CD1#2); Kudsi Erguner: ney flute (CD1#2); Illya Amar: marimba and tuned gongs (CD1#2); Mitchel Forman: keyboards (CD1#3); Trey Henry: bass (CD1#3); Ray Brinker: drums (CD1#3); Pascal Bournet: acoustic guitar (CD1#4); Heinz Dieter Sauerborn: alto saxophone (CD1#5); Oliver Leicht: alto and soprano saxophones (CD1#5); Harry Petersen: tenor saxophone (CD1#5); Johannes Enders: tenor saxophone (CD1#5); Rainer Heute: baritone saxophone (CD1#5); Tobias Weidinger: trumpet (CD1#5); Martin Auer: trumpet (CD1#5); Thomas Vogel: trumpet (CD1#5); Günter Bollmann: trombone (CD1#5); Peter Feil: trombone (CD1#5); Christian Jaksjo: trombone (CD1#5); Manfred Honetschlager: bass trombone (CD1#5); Martine Scales: guitar (CD1#5); Peter Reiter: piano, Rhodes and keyboards (CD1#5); Thomas Heidepriem: electric bass (CD1#5); Billy Cobham: drums (CD1#5); Colin Towns: arrangements (CD1#5); Ron Thaler: drums (CD1#6); Chris Clark: keyboards (CD1#6); Ron Bertolet: alto saxophone (CD1#6); Jeff Carney: bass (CD1#6); Gregg Bendian: drums (CD1#7); Glenn Alexander: guitar (CD1#7); Zach Brock: violin (CD1#7); Adam Holzmann: keyboards (CD1#7); Dave Johnson: bass (CD1#7); Matt Szemela: violin (CD1#7, CD2#6); Jeremy Kittel: violin (CD1#7, CD2#6); Jon Weber: viola (CD1#7, CD2#6); Leigh Stuart: cello (CD1#7, CD2#6); Melissa Stylianou: voice (CD1#7, CD2#6); Premik Russell Tubbs: alto flute and soprano saxophone (CD1#7); Jim Beard: keyboards (CD1#8), Hammond B3 (CD2#4), acoustic piano (CD2#4); Marc Quinones: percussion (CD1#8); Aaron Heick: flute, clarinet, English horn and oboe (CD1#8); Stan Harrison: flute and clarinet (CD1#8); Todd Reynolds: violin (CD1#8); Erik Friedlander: cello (CD1#8); John Patitucci: double-bass (CD1#8); Billy Ward: drums (CD1#8); Pete McCann: guitar (CD1#9); John O'Gallagher: saxophone (CD1#9); John Herbert: bass (CD1#9); Mark Ferber: drums (CD1#9); Mike Holober: piano (CD1#9); John Stowell: acoustic guitar (CD1#10); Franz Holtmann: guitar (CD1#11); Mathias Krauss: Rhodes, organ, keys and programming (CD1#11); Gudze: bass (CD1#11); Jost Nickel: drums (CD1#11); Lucas Pickford: bass and sarod (CD1#12); Steve Hunt: synths and programming (CD1#12); Vinay Kantak: tablas, tambourine and shaker (CD1#12); Gustavo Assis-Brasil: guitar (CD1#13); José Pienasola: bass (CD1#13); Mauricio Zottarelli: drums (CD1#13); Marco Anderson: six and twelve string guitars (CD2#1); Philip Gibbs: guitar and tenor guitar (CD2#1); Ale Fernandez: guitar (CD2#1); Peter Evans: violin and string samples (CD2#1); Ron Savage: acoustic bass (CD2#1); John Bruschini: guitar (CD2#2); Robert Aires: keyboards (CD2#2); Jim Nolet: viola (CD2#2); Kip Reed: bass (CD2#2); Jeff Hirshfield: drums (CD2#2); Bernie Mallinger: violin (CD2#3); Johannes Dickbauer: violin (CD2#3); Cynthia Liao: viola (CD2#3); Asja Valcic: cello (CD2#3); Jon Herington: guitar (CD2#4); Bob Malach: tenor saxophone (CD2#4); Matthew Garrison: bass (CD2#4); Michael Davis: trombone (CD2#4); Dennis Chambers: drums (CD2#4); Göran Klinghagen: guitar (CD2#5); Christian Spering: bass (CD2#5); Leroy Lowe: drums (CD2#5); David Fiuczynski: guitar (CD2#7); Percy Jones: bass (CD2#7); Demetrios Pappas: keyboards (CD2#7); Vic Stevens: drums (CD2#7); Vinnie Colaiuta: drums (CD2#8); Larry Kohut: bass (CD2#8); Ben Lewis: keyboards (CD2#8); Chris Siebold: guitar (CD2#8); Kirk Garrison: trumpet (CD2#8); Matt Lewis: trumpet (solo) (CD2#8); Willie Murillo: trumpet (CD2#8); Tuim Rubottom: trumpet (CD2#8); John Mose: trombone (solo) (CD2#8); Jim Boltinghouse: trombone (CD2#8); Peter Brockmann: trombone (CD2#8); Dave Ryan: trombone (CD2#8); Mitch Paliga: tenor saxophone (CD2#8); Roger Neuman: tenor saxophone (CD2#8); Jim Ogdren: alto saxophone (CD2#8); Paul McGinely: alto saxophone (CD2#8); Ted Hogarth: baritone saxophone (CD2#8); Scot Breadman: percussion (CD2#8); Kimo Williams: arrangements (CD2#8); Pascal Bournet: acoustic guitar (CD2#9); Enrique Alberti: cello (CD2#9); Gianfranco Continenza: guitar (CD2#10); Alessandro Centofanti: keyboards (CD2#10); Mark Egan: bass (CD2#10); Walter Martino: drums (CD2#10); Mads Tolling: violin (CD2#11); Mike Abraham: guitar (CD2#11); George Ban-Weiss: acoustic and electric bass (CD2#11); Richard Smith: guitars (CD2#12); Hans Zermuehlen: keyboards (CD2#12).