Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Walter Kolosky: Power, Beauty and Passion - The Story of the Legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Power, Passion and Beauty: The Story of the Legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra

Walter Kolosky

Pages: 325


Self-published e-book


Walter Kolosky's Power, Passion and Beauty: The Story of the Legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra (Abstract Logix Books, 2005) now finds its way into e-book format, which is good news for trees as well as for die-hard Mahavishnu Orchestra fans. In the interval since publication of the original book, Kolosky has conducted further interviews with members of that ground-breaking and hugely influential jazz-fusion band that throw further light on the music, the demise of the classic MO Mark I, and developments in all things MO related—and there have been a few—since 2006. New interviews with people who were part of the MO juggernaut and musicians who were influenced by the MO help to add further appreciation of just how unique and indeed life-altering the MO was for those who saw it in all its pomp and glory.

When originally published, Kolosky's book came in for some criticism for his writing style and the lay-out of the book which effectively consisted of quotations culled from hundreds of hours of interviews strung together with faint narrative thread. Admittedly, Kolosky's writing does come across as rather gushing at times, and his habit of constantly referring to MO as "the greatest band that ever was" grates after a while, even if you tend to agree.

However, his tireless, hound-like research has unearthed, without any shadow of doubt, the definitive work thus far on the MO, and it's highly unlikely—given that all five original members are all in their seventh or eighth decade—that another book with such a breadth and depth of candid first-hand accounts—particularly from the MO Mark I of drummer Billy Cobham, violinist Jerry Goodman, keyboardist Jan Hammer, bassist Rick Laird and guitarist John McLaughlin—will ever see the light of day. For this reason alone, Kolosky's efforts assume historical importance, for those who care, that outweigh any weaknesses in style or format.

So, other than format what's new in this e-book version of Power, Passion and Beauty.... to tempt MO fans to part with their hard-earned cash? Well, for one, updated interviews with the protagonists, which if not quite finally clarifying once and for all why the original MO broke up, must certainly—and more importantly—contribute not only to a thawing in the relationships between the five original band members, but to their own sense of the bands enduring legacy. It's a legacy, as Kolosky points out, that has seen the MO's complex music revisited by rock, jazz, country, world, classical, Indian, big-band and flamenco bands in the last decade.

The needling question as to whether or not the MO Mark 1 might reform for one last planetary hurrah is revisited and left ambiguously hanging by a cosmic thread—by the author as much as the musicians themselves—but it seems like a pointless exercise given McLaughlin's creative vibrancy with the 4th Dimension and the on-going Remember Shakti, not to mention Rick Laird and Jan Hammer's virtual retirement from touring.

A new chapter brings the MO story up to date, with news on some of the increasing tribute bands that are springing up— like drummer Gregg Bendian's Mahavishnu Project, General Zod, the Birds of Flame, Treasures of the Spirit, Sapphire Bullets, The Mahavishnu Experience and Dream. Kolosky previously researched just about every MO cover version ever recorded in his book Follow Your Heart: John McLaughlin Song by Song (Abstract Logix Books, 2010) but the list grows.

One of the most tantalizing developments in recent years was the impromptu concert given by McLaughlin and Cobham at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2010. Kolosky faithfully records the two musicians' thoughts on their first performance together since 1984. Additional contributions from from guitarists Carlos Santana, Steve Howe, MO Mark II violinist Jean-Luc Ponty add to the considerable number of the original book's interviewees—at times exhausting—that spoke of the MO's impact. The funniest quotation remains, however, Rick Laird's original comment on the MO being "too friggin' loud.'

The increased interest in the MO since publication of Power, Beauty and Passion... is underlined by Elliott Sears, the MO's former road manager: "My inbox is filled with ten times the amount of Mahavishnu related material than before. More and more, I hear about high school jazz ensembles learning the band's music in their curriculums. It seems the Mahavishnu Orchestra and its individual members, now more than ever, are being used as the barometer against which all great musicians are being measured."



comments powered by Disqus


Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Book Reviews
Ziga Koritnik: Cloud Arrangers
By Nenad Georgievski
February 3, 2019
Book Reviews
Ricochet: David Bowie 1983
By Nenad Georgievski
February 2, 2019
Book Reviews
Shake Your Hips: The Excello Records Story by Randy Fox
By C. Michael Bailey
February 2, 2019
Book Reviews
Billie Holiday: Lady Sings The Blues
By Ian Patterson
January 16, 2019
Book Reviews
Tracy Fessenden: Religion Around Billie Holiday
By Steve Provizer
January 8, 2019
Book Reviews
Sonny Rollins: Meditating on a Riff
By Steve Provizer
December 31, 2018
Book Reviews
Dexter Gordon: Portrait of a Sophisticated Giant
By Steve Provizer
December 30, 2018