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Mahavishnu Project biography

Back in 1971, when guitar-god JOHN MCLAUGHLIN left MILES DAVIS and (TONY WILLIAMS' LIFETIME) to form the groundbreaking MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, he was the first to combine the fire of HENDRIX-drenched rock with the groove of COLTRANE's modal jazz & the ethereal Indian ragas of RAVI SHANKAR. The critics called it "jazz rock" (of course it was much more) and the result was nothing less than a musical revolution. The MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA has since been cited as a major influence on everyone from KING CRIMSON to PHISH to the MARS VOLTA, and was in many ways one of the first electric jam bands. Not surprisingly however, the music of the MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA hasn't gone on to be covered and re-interpreted by the many bands it has affected, largely due to its extreme technical demands. That is, until now.

The MAHAVISHNU PROJECT launches directly from where the original band abruptly left off. In 2001, this incendiary unit from New York City began performing their unique renditions of music from classic MAHAVISHNU discs such as "Birds of Fire", "Inner Mounting Flame", "Between Nothingness & Eternity" and "Visions of the Emerald Beyond", while remaining true to the cutting edge improvs of the original band, and to MCLAUGHLIN's stunning compositions. Their take on the music must be quite special, as they have received the seal of approval from Maestro MCLAUGHLIN himself!

The MAHAVISHNU PROJECT is led by extraordinary drummer/composer GREGG BENDIAN, widely known for his work with PAT METHENY, ORNETTE COLEMAN & JOHN ZORN. BENDIAN has received rave reviews for his and NELS CLINE's "Interstellar Space Revisited: The Music of John Coltrane" (Atavistic), his band INTERZONE's "Requiem for Jack Kirby" (Atavistic, 2001) and his sterling drum and vibes work on the long-awaited "We Saw A Bozo Under The Sea" (ZHR, 2001) by former BEEFHEART guitar whiz, ZOOT ROLLO HORN. BENDIAN's talents are uniquely suited to the daunting challenge of another shining icon of creative music the MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA.

In the current line-up of the MAHAVISHNU PROJECT, GREGG BENDIAN is joined by guitar whiz GLENN ALEXANDER - who's worked with L. SHANKAR & RANDY BRECKER, MILES DAVIS & WAYNE SHORTER's keyboardist ADAM HOLZMAN, bassist DAVE JOHNSON (from "Project: The Music of Frank Zappa") and violinist ROB THOMAS, who has worked with ANDY SUMMERS and TITO PUENTE. Earlier line-ups included STEVE HUNT (ALLAN HOLDSWORTH BAND) on keyboards, STEPHAN CRUMP (el...
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Return to the Emerald BeyondReturn to the Emerald Beyond
Cuneiform 2007
Audio CD$18.53
$7.43 (used)
Phase 2 (2cd)Phase 2 (2cd)
Audio CD$14.99
$11.99 (used)
Phase 2 (2cd) by Mahavishnu ProjectPhase 2 (2cd) by Mahavishnu Project
Audio CD$44.98
Return to the Emerald Beyond by Mahavishnu ProjectReturn to the Emerald Beyond by Mahavishnu Project
Audio CD$64.12
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MAHAVISHNU PROJECT top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

MAHAVISHNU PROJECT Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Live Bootleg
3.09 | 4 ratings
Phase 2


MAHAVISHNU PROJECT Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.93 | 7 ratings
Return To The Emerald Beyond

MAHAVISHNU PROJECT Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Return To The Emerald Beyond by MAHAVISHNU PROJECT album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2007
3.93 | 7 ratings

Return To The Emerald Beyond
Mahavishnu Project Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BORA

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.

 Return To The Emerald Beyond by MAHAVISHNU PROJECT album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2007
3.93 | 7 ratings

Return To The Emerald Beyond
Mahavishnu Project Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Vibrationbaby

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.

 Phase 2 by MAHAVISHNU PROJECT album cover Live, 2004
3.09 | 4 ratings

Phase 2
Mahavishnu Project Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars Not exactly sure what these guys set out to do except maybe try to be MO what The Musical Box is to Genesis, but the philosophy appears different: although maintaining the spirit very tightly, the tracks being revisited are often expanded (some almost doubling their original duration) and they add a composition of theirs. With a shadowy artwork, evoking the famous birds, present on two MO covers, this double CD will, sort of, give what you've always waited for, a live version of those first two perfections of albums. This is true up to certain point, because you (as a total) will quickly realize that it is not the MC boys playing, their so-typical and virtuoso play being inimitable and almost impossible to reproduce faithfully.

Another puzzling thing is they call this album Phase 2, but all of the tracks they chose come exclusively from the MkI line-up and even more precisely from IMF and BoF, bar the lone Lila's Dance from Emerald. Actually the only non-MO track, drummer Bendian's Within The Womb Of Night is sonically close enough to MO, but Bendian played it safe, sounding much like Hope. Never an easy judgment on such projects, especially on a tribute to such a perfect band as MO, MP's Phase 2 might just be worth your investment, but I doubt that you'll get much mileage out of this double disc affair. I thank my library system for having me spared the hunt and investment.

 Return To The Emerald Beyond by MAHAVISHNU PROJECT album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2007
3.93 | 7 ratings

Return To The Emerald Beyond
Mahavishnu Project Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by beebs

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.

 Return To The Emerald Beyond by MAHAVISHNU PROJECT album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2007
3.93 | 7 ratings

Return To The Emerald Beyond
Mahavishnu Project Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by darksideof

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.

 Phase 2 by MAHAVISHNU PROJECT album cover Live, 2004
3.09 | 4 ratings

Phase 2
Mahavishnu Project Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Phil

3 stars An intriguing proposition....from their reputation, a band "approved" by McLaughlin himself, the Mahavishnu Project appear much more than a mere tribute band. And there is no doubting the quality of the musicians here, or their ability to not just play, but to make a valid re-interpretation of one of McLaughlins's finest ventures. However I suspect this live album is really best appreciated if you've already seen the band - I mean the "Project" - live, and then buy this to remind you of what I imagine is a powerful stage performance. It's a double CD based on a 2 hours + live concert, and that's some going for music of this intensity. Unfortunately I paid top whack for this (15.99) and that affects my view on this, because the sound quality is just about acceptable, but not great. The music itself is based almost exclusively on the MO's first two - and best - albums, with the exception of a version of "Lilla's Dance" and a track penned by the "Project" leader, drummer Greg Bendian, "Within the Womb of Night", that is really rather good. The disappointment is that the MO's keynote tracks - like Birds of Fire, and Meeting of the Spirits - don't work so well; much better are the lesser tracks like "You Know You Know" that allow the band - all of them fine players, but for me especially Rob Thomas on violin stands out - to improvise around Mclaughlin's often simple riffs. At the end of the day though there are just a few too many shortfalls to wholly convince - the music often lacks the pace and energy of the original; for one thing, you realise just how damn good Cobham was /is at stretching a beat - something lacking here. 3 stars as a valid attempt, but to anyone that hasn't yet experienced early Mahavishnu, this is no substitute for the real thing. For those that have and crave more, I suspect seeing the Mahavishnu Project live - rather than listening to a "live" CD - is where to put your money.
Thanks to dick heath for the artist addition.

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