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


Mahavishnu Project

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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5 stars As a big McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra, when I heard that there were a tribute band of this extra ordinary fusion band of the 70's I was very surprised, because these days most tribute bands are dedicated to play only rock band's music. That where the money is!! Also at the same times I thought that this band was just like any tribute band that plays the music exactly the same way it was composed. Sound familiar, how boring!!

However this is not the case of this band. They do take MH's compositions, but express them in their own language, but without losing the beauty, strength, magic, musicianship of the original compositions. This time the band chooses to perfume live in NYC the whole Visions of the Emerald and Beyond, which by the way is my favorite mahavishnu orchestra's album. Whoa and more whoa is what I can say about how incredibly well played these musicians played that night. All the songs from the original album are here, but the main different is that the band created every extended version. It will blow you away. Believe me, it did to me!! If you are a fan of the Mahavishu Orchestra and love this album, you won't be disappointed when you buy it. It's worth every penny and every dollar. It is simply brilliantly well done. Get it!!! Darksideof.

Report this review (#114939)
Posted Monday, March 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars A nice tribute to my personal favorite fusion-jazz album, Mahavishnu Orchestra's "Vision of the Emerald Beyond, this rednition takes the essence of the original recording (plus a track or two from ...Orchestra's "Apocolypse") and strrrrrretches the songs out to swaying, funky, rockin, and trippy heights. Don't look for the guitar solos to burn the fretboard the way John McLaughlin did them (hell, almost NOBODY can do it like John did), but this guy playing guitar is more than passable.

The gas about this tribute recording is that it's performed LIVE!! And what a killer recording! You don't even know it's live until the end of track 2 ("Lila's Dance" - my favorite cut from the original). There is some great Hammond organ playing where the keys were more "mixed back" on the original.

I highly recommend this (and the original as well) for anyone who likes progressive rock, classical and jazz music forms, as the connection to fusion jazz here and with MO is verrrry close.

Report this review (#122790)
Posted Saturday, May 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#215155)
Posted Tuesday, May 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars So, what's in a name? Is it a tribute band, or clones? Probably a combination of both.

I've had this album for years, an album that was put far, far away after the first listen. Recently I dug it up again and came to the same conclusion as for the first time. It leaves me frustrated, irritated.

Right off, the first track "Eternity's Breath" fails to capture the essence of one of Mahavishnu's greatest, most dynamic and bordering on delightfully bombastic tracks. I shake my head in utter disbelief. It can't be true! And that's before I get to the absolutely horrible, lean and weak vocal part. Haven't they heard of ear candling, or even just cotton buds over there?

Suitably put off, I persevere with the rest of the album, bit by bit, over the course of the day.

In all fairness, there are moments when brilliant musicianship is evident. Sadly, it's often compromised by dissecting the original compositions, leaving out essential parts, supplemented by long and often boring extended passages that are a waste of time, really.

Now, had I not been familiar with Mahavishnu before, this band may be on my radar for future releases and would receive a higher rating and accolades. But as things are, they don't really do justice to the original compositions and I just can't bring myself to rate them above 3.5. Great talents, wasted effort.

Report this review (#951428)
Posted Monday, April 29, 2013 | Review Permalink

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