409

Jeff Richman & Friends: Visions of an Inner Mounting Apocalypse: A Fusion Guitar Tribute

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Jeff Richman & Friends: Visions of an Inner Mounting Apocalypse: A Fusion Guitar Tribute Tribute albums are a risky undertaking. You need to be respectful without being too imitative. You need to demonstrate the impact of the artist(s) while at the same time showing how things have moved forward. In a nutshell, you need to be relevant and reverent without coming off as simply a poor carbon copy.

Paying respect to John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra presents an even greater challenge than most. For one thing, drummer Gregg Bendian's fine Mahavishnu Project has already delivered some serious homage, most recently on the live release Phase 2 and at the Vishnu-Fest in New York. But even more importantly, any attempt to revere the Mahavishnu Orchestra—whose debut album, '71's The Inner Mounting Flame, has literally been a life-altering experience for more than one generation of guitarists and other fans—runs the significant risk of being unable to meet listener expectations.

Fortunately guitarist/producer Jeff Richman, responsible for last year's John Coltrane tribute, A Guitar Supreme, understands that one needs to capture the spirit and unbridled energy of Mahavishnu Orchestra while at the same time treating the material with enough invention to tell new and different stories. In doing so he demonstrates the widespread impact that Mahavishnu represents, rather than simply delivering an album of well-executed covers.

Richman has assembled a core group in drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, bassist Kai Eckhardt, and keyboardist Mitchel Forman—all of whom have all played with McLaughlin at one time or another, and consequently have a clear understanding of precedence. And recruiting original Mahavishnu violinist Jerry Goodman—who seems to be making something of a comeback these days, most notably with British drummer Gary Husband's Force Majeure—was an incredibly inspired decision. Goodman is playing better than ever.

While rearranging the material—which, with two exceptions, comes from Mahavishnu Orchestra Mark I and II albums The Inner Mounting Flame, Birds of Fire, and Visions of the Emerald Beyond—Richman has managed to maintain the raw edge and power of the originals that made them such watershed recordings. And his specific choices in matching up the nine other guitarists to the material are nothing short of perfect.

Citing any specific performance is pointless, as everyone demonstrates McLaughlin's monumental influence while successfully retaining their own well-developed musical personalities. If there's any criticism, it's that, despite McLaughlin's encyclopaedic knowledge, he always managed to sound somehow unschooled; and some of these players—in particular Steve Morse on Birds of Fire's "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters"—come off as perhaps a little too clean, a little too perfect.

Still, while not truly a Mahavishnu Orchestra piece, John Abercrombie's set closer, an evocative version of the gentler "Follow Your Heart," demonstrates the overriding impression that all the participating guitarists leave. They may have all evolved their own stylistic conceptions, but the McLaughlin influence is still there to be found, if one only knows where to look. Vital and visceral, Visions of an Inner Mounting Apocalypse correctly views Mahavishnu Orchestra and McLaughlin's material as unpolished but unequivocally invaluable jewels.


Track Listing: Birds of Fire; Can't Stand Your Funk; Celestial Terrestrial Commuters; Meeting of the Spirits; Jazz; Dawn; Lila's Dance; Faith; Dance of the Maya; Follow Your Heart.

Personnel: Vinnie Colaiuta: drums; Kai Eckhardt: bass; Mitchel Forman: keyboards; Jeff Richman: guitars. Featuring violinist Jerry Goodman (2,6,7,9) and guitarists Steve Lukather (1); Mike Stern (2); Steve Morse (3); Jimmy Herring (4); Jeff Richman (5); Frank Gambale (6); Warren Haynes (7); David Fiuczynski (8); Greg Howe (9); John Abercrombie (10).

Title: Visions of an Inner Mounting Apocalypse: A Fusion Guitar Tribute | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Tone Center


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Screen Sounds CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Rediscovered Ellington CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 20, 2017
Read The Bug CD/LP/Track Review The Bug
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Sing Me Some Cry CD/LP/Track Review Sing Me Some Cry
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Masters In Bordeaux CD/LP/Track Review Masters In Bordeaux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 19, 2017
Read On Parade In Parede CD/LP/Track Review On Parade In Parede
by John Sharpe
Published: August 19, 2017
Read "True Love Collection" CD/LP/Track Review True Love Collection
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 24, 2016
Read "Streams" CD/LP/Track Review Streams
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 17, 2016
Read "Invisible Hand" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Hand
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "Infinitude" CD/LP/Track Review Infinitude
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 31, 2016
Read "Of The Night" CD/LP/Track Review Of The Night
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 28, 2016
Read "Lacy Pool_2" CD/LP/Track Review Lacy Pool_2
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 14, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.