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I'm saddened to see such a mis-informed review of a very readable and informative book. Such an experienced contributor should have checked his facts first before committing them to print.
That the author of the book didn't pursue the line of sensationalism by trying to open old wounds is a mark of respect for those involved, a triumph over the lust for gossip and innuendo that is so often harvested to bring sales in.
The interview to which Mr Collette refers was not conducted with John but mainly with Jerry and Jan and their incendiary comments were the ones that caused the open hostilities and the beginning of the end of the band. But surely you must have read this in the book as it is quite plainly mentioned.
Rob Thomas is only the violinist in Gregg Bendian's Mahavishnu Project, the modern day update on this fantastic ensemble. I don't know who Mr Collette thought he was but someone with a little knowledge of this musical field would have known that.
I notice that Mr Collette's biog mentions his love of The Allman Brother's band, but if they ever used indian rhythmic meters or themes then I never heard them. Neither The Grateful Dead or the Allmans Brothers band (both fine examples of their own genres) were anything remotely like the Mahavishnu Orchestra musically and I can only guess that this is another example of writers using their own somewhat narrow field of reference to try and sound authoritive on a subject they clearly know very little about.
For once we have an informed book about a legendary musical outfit that doesn't dwell on the author's subjective views and allows the views of the participants and those that were present and felt the effects afterwards to tell the tale first hand. In this Mr Kolosky is to be congratulated.
I would without hesitation recommend this book to anyone who had even a passing interest in the subject and, more importantly to the army of devotees of John McLaughlin and his music. Don't let this review put you off from a very knowledgable book, written with respect and affection.
I am one of the editors of Power, Passion and Beauty by Walter Kolosky.
While Mr. Collette is entitled to his opinion, one wishes that he would have taken the time to establish an informed opinion based on fact rather than one created to meet a deadline.
The subtitle of the book, "The greatest band that ever was" might be regarded as hyperbole by some. But this declaration is a heartfelt statement by Walter. And he says this on pg.184.
Collette writes: "Further, if more of the quotes from such visionary musicians as Jeff Beck and Pat Metheny were pursued with an eye toward identifying the effects of the band on their own styles, sceptics and dilettantes both might come away with more sympathy with Kolosky’s point of view."
The musicians that participated were not asked questions like "Can you solo in 17?" or "Did you ever own a double-neck like McLaughlin?" The questions were asked from the perspective of how did the band and their music effect you *personally*, not technically.
Jeff Beck says on pg.272 of Jan Hammer "His playing is so concise and devilish and fiery. That is what drew me in. Jan is still my hero on keyboards."
Pat Metheny says on pg.96 "What time signature is that? Is that a guitar? A violin? Who cares! ...we were watching three people completely and forever reinvent the meaning of their instruments in jazz..."
Further, it is a waste of time, and insulting, to ask someone dumb crap like "Can you play fast like McLaughlin?" And "skeptics" is spelled wrong.
Collette writes: "Many of these quotes, however, are culled from interviews which weren't concerned exclusively with Mahavishnu, so they don't necessarily throw light on this area."
This statement is wrong. Ninety-eight percent of the interviews, personal quotes and comments were given exclusively for the book. Pat Metheny was contacted while he was on tour, and he took the time to WRITE his comments for the book. Only 2% of the book was referenced from existing print material; maybe less.
Had Mr. Collette bothered to read pages 2 - 4, he would have been aware of this fact.
Collette writes: "It would have served Kolosky and the band well too, if he had identified some of his sources in more detail. Don Heckman, for instance, is a long-standing New York Times critic..."
On pg.74, an article by Mr. Heckman is referenced in a bold font. The footnote at the end says "New York Times, Dec.'71, pg.12". Had Mr. Heckman been contacted to give comments for the book, he would have been credited at the back of the book - as all of the people who directly participated for the book are.
Had Mr. Collette bothered to read page 3, he would have been aware of this fact.
Collette writes: "And is the Rob Thomas quoted in “Homage To Mahavishnu Orchestra” the Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty?"
Had Mr. Collette bothered to read page 9 or the credits at the end of the book, he would read that Rob Thomas is a violinist.
Collette continues: "If so, what credibility does he lend to the subject at hand?"
Had Mr. Collette bothered to read page 9, he would read that Rob Thomas was the violinist for the Mahavishnu Project band. He should read the book if he needs to know who they are.
Regarding Mr. Collette's desire for blood-letting and vitriol on the subject of the MO's break-up. This book was written as a celebration of the band and its music, not some National Enquirer expose. Had the book been written in 1974, Mr. Collette would have gotten all of the nastiness and spite that were residual effects of the break-up. This period is thoroughly documented.
But it is 33 years later. The interviews and statements given by the band members reflect their attitudes *today*. The members of the MO look back at that time with a reflection that has been tempered with the wisdom of experience and a sort of forgiveness that comes with the passage of time.
There was no glancing over the issue of the break-up in order to "safeguard access to his sources". The break-up of the band was told objectively, without hurting (or defending) anyone.
Picking at old scabs and wounds would have served no purpose, and was never Walter Kolosky's intent. Had Mr. Collette bothered to actually read the book, he would known this. He should give the book to someone who will.
Machine Mass feat. Dave Liebman
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