Mahavishnu Orchestra: The Lost Trident Sessions
This lost-in-the-vault-for-26-years session represents the near-impossible fusion archivist's dream: to find a complete studio release by the fusion era's seminal band at the very height of the creative powers (and the height of tension between members off the stage). Most musicians and fans who remember the force and tides of change generated by John McLaughlin's greatest ensemble will agree this one was worth the wait. Engineered by 70's production legend, Ken Scott, the tracks and takes have at times a rough, raw and unfinished edge but it doesn't matter. Why this album is so critical to the fusion canon is that it captures the frenzy of a band about to break up, but still at their creative peak and particularly with compositional contributions from members such as bassis Rick Laird and violinist Jerry Goodman which showcase their monstrous improvisational (and writing) capabilities, which were too dominated by McLaughlin in earlier releases. Jan Hammer demonstrates his prowess on Rhodes piano and mini-moog, and reminds us once again, that little has been accomplished in jazz with electronic keyboards that improves upon what Hammer routinely unleashed upon audiences in 1973.
Featured here are two fine extended mega-jams/suites by McLaughlin, who's playing and exchanges with Cobham's drumming runs the gamut from serene and subtle to molten ferocity. Bill Milkowski's liner notes, featuring comments from all the band members offer a healthy dose of musical history and perspective on one jazz's most revolutionary ensembles. It's also a reminder that since this time, rock-influenced instrumental jazz has rarely risen to the level of interplay and inspiration heard here. The Lost Trident Sessions offers us a veritable rendering of fusion's equivalent to the "Lost Sea Scrolls."