217

Mahavishnu Project: Phase 2

Walter Kolosky By

Sign in to view read count
Mahavishnu Project: Phase 2 The Mahavishnu Project considers the music from the original fusion gods, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, to be classical in nature. Therefore it is no surprise to see the band put out another CD that features four of the MO tunes that appeared on its first release, Live Bootleg. After all, a classical repertoire is a classical repertoire. The great classical players spend their whole lives "interpreting" the masters' works time after time until they almost get it right. But if you throw in the improvisational aspects that the music of the MO guitarist and founder John McLaughlin's compositions allow musicians, each interpretation may as well be a different tune anyway. When you further throw in nine more inspiring MO pieces and a worthy original that the band didn't cover the first time out, you have Phase Two, the next step in the growth of this remarkable band.

Phase 2 is a two-disc set featuring performances from the Project'\'s 2003 tour. Better recorded than the band's first release, it also is a showcase for MP's new violinist, Rob Thomas, who soars with the wild abandon of Jean Luc Ponty and Jerry Goodman, the two violinists that were integral parts of McLaughlin's first two Mahavishnus. But even more impressive is Thomas' occasional references to L. Shankar, the Indian violinist who was a star from McLaughlin's Shakti band. These moments are fleeting and nuanced, but they add another textural element to this music. Thomas gets it!

Drummer, founder and arranger Gregg Bendian propels the band through two and a half hours of Mahavishnu madness. (A note: I have mentioned in past reviews that I am not a fan of CDs that are too long, as if the artist felt a need to fill every possible second available. I should have been clear that I do not feel that way about live recordings.) Bendian's solo performance on the legendary "One Word" is truly jaw-dropping.

Once again guitar phenom Pete McCann does the master proud. Especially impressive is the necessary restraint he shows on "Sanctuary" until he and the band explode. It seems that keyboardist Steve Hunt may have been under-recorded the first time out. On Phase 2 he is a major force sustaining long and interesting synthesizer runs that add muscle to the early Mahavishnu tunes that were recorded synthesizer-less. He is also especially strong on the Jan Hammer inspired original written by Bendian, "Within the Womb of Night." The Project's bassist, Stephan Crump, serves an important role in this music. It is his job to keep the group centered and to offer help in establishing the low treble of some of the melodies.

These Mahavishnu tunes, as performed by the MP, are as alive and vital as any music being offered on the scene today. Given a chance to be heard, the MP players should take their rightful places not only as fine classical interpreters, but as contemporary jazz-rock stars of the highest order with plenty of their own ideas to push the music even further. I can't wait until they tackle some more of McLaughlin's compositions.


Track Listing: CD1: Resolution; Meeting of the Spirits; You Know, You Know; A Lotus On Irish Streams; Sanctuary; Awakening; Birds of Fire. CD2: Noonward Race; Lila's Dance/The Dance of Maya; Miles Beyond; Within the Womb of Night; One Word; Hope.

Personnel: Gregg Bendian: drums; Pete McCann: guitar; Stephan Crump: bass; Steve Hunt: keyboards; Rob Thomas: violin.

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Aggregate Music | Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


Shop

More Articles

Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Checking Out" CD/LP/Track Review Checking Out
by Budd Kopman
Published: July 19, 2016
Read "Visual Music" CD/LP/Track Review Visual Music
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 18, 2016
Read "Touch My Beloved's Thought" CD/LP/Track Review Touch My Beloved's Thought
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 7, 2016
Read "Sanjay Divecha and Secret" CD/LP/Track Review Sanjay Divecha and Secret
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 2, 2016
Read "Blooming Tall Phlox" CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2016
Read "Sounds of 3" CD/LP/Track Review Sounds of 3
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 18, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!