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Mahavishnu Project - Return To The Emerald Beyond CD (album) cover


Mahavishnu Project


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.93 | 7 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars I had to look twice when I came across the Mahavishnu Project`s debut disc , Live Bootleg, in the just arrived bin a local second hand music shop. Disbelievingly, with guarded skepticism I snatched it up. Almost devoid of liner notes I had no idea what to expect and thought to myself, "this, I gotta hear". Well I wasn`t dissappointed. My first observation after one listen through the disc was that they were not attempting to duplicate this vexingly intricate music but rather breathing fresh air into it employing new technology and drawing on their individual musical faculties to come up with a truly honourable elucidation of material from the first precious 2 years of the unearthly Mahavishnu Orchestra. I wondered if this was just a one off and then I came across this jewel right in the Mahavishnu Orchestra section itself! Now this was something I really had to hear. The whole Mahavishnu Mk II, Visions Of The Emerald Beyond album, played in sequence! Heck, some of these tracks weren`t even played live by the original band themselves!

Now, the first notion which must be erased from the mind is that this is going to be your verbatim note- for-note musical recreation as with other tribute bands such as The Musical Box, who admirably capture the atmosphere of early Genesis music. Rather, what the Mahavishnu Project is seeking to accomplish here is a restatement of the original compositions by expounding on the original framework, adding instrumentation and their own improv sections wherever most appropriate, which reflects the timelessness of the music of The Mahavishnu Orchestra and how really potent, relevant and magical it still is today.

The brainchild of drummer/composer par excellence, Gegg Bendian, who himself has played with giants such as Pat Metheny and Ornette Coleman, The Mahavishnu Project is a completely reformed band from the 5 member 2002 Live Bootleg lineup. The eleven members who comprise the band featured here are also accomplished in their own right and the instrumentation (right down to gender of the players) is practically identical to that featured on the original `75 Visions Of The Emerald Beyond recording with the addition of a female vocalist who could be original keyboardist/vocalist Gayle Moran`s doppelganger! While Bendian is a perfect compromise between Cobham and Michael Walden he is really his own drummer playing all kinds of weird meters you would expect from Bill Bruford`s percussive stylings. Likewise, guitarist Glenn Alexander, with the exception of short bursts doesn`t (it would be futile) try to emanate McLaughlin but rather has harder rocking bluesy edge to his playing and gets more funkier than McLaughlin on tracks such as the Cosmic Strut . Bassman David Johnsen, perhaps because the advances of technology, tends to sound more fluid than Ralphe Armstrong here as well. And for those who who wondered what the Mahavishnu MK II would sound like with Jan Hammer then this is as close as your going to get as they`re were no real keyboard solos on the original work (save for some introductory piano phrasings from Gayle Moran) with plenty of tripped out keyboard work from Adam Holzman another testimony to the music`s everlasting potential. Woodwind sections from Premik Russel Tubbs are also worked into this magnificent aggregation. Interestingly, the airy violin of Rob Thomas captures the spirit of Jean-Luc Ponty`s dreamier post Mahavishnu solo playing more but nonetheless blends with ease, adding another dimension to these earlier pieces.

If the rendition of the whole Visions Of The Emerald Beyond is not enough for you there are 25 more minutes of incessant jamming on previous Mahavishnu Orchestra material going back as far as `72 including Jan Hammer`s Sister Andrea. Hammer actually performed with the band on one occasion and despite the support for this project from both himself and McLaughlin it`s too bad the two can`t bury the hatchet. Fortunately, the Mahavishnu Project fulfills the void and is to be commended for going where few would dare on this audacious live decantation of music that otherwise would live only on old vinyl or compact disc reproductions. So if you`ve been waiting for that 70s Mahavishnu reunion that never happened this is as close as you will come to re-living the Mahavishnu Orchestra`s 70s fire-breathing magic. Superb.

Vibrationbaby | 4/5 |


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