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Mahavishnu Orchestra


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(1970 – 1976, 1984 – 1987)

The Mahavishnu Orchestra was a jazz-rock fusion group that debuted in 1970 and dissolved in 1976, reuniting briefly from 1984 to 1987.

In its first version, the band was led by “Mahavishnu” John McLaughlin on acoustic and electric guitars, with Billy Cobham on drums, Rick Laird on electric and acoustic bass, Jan Hammer on electric and acoustic piano, and Jerry Goodman on violin. The group is best known for their two most popular albums: The Inner Mounting Flame (1971) and Birds Of Fire (1973).

From 1974 to 1976, personnel included Jean-Luc Ponty on violin, Narada Michael Walden on drums and vocals, Gayle Moran on vocals and keyboards, and Ralph Armstrong on bass, among others. This second incarnation of the group explored orchestral arrangements, as well as more mainstream funk and R&B grooves added to the mix.

This group was considered an important pioneer in the jazz fusion movement that was founded by Miles Davis. McLaughlin and Cobham met while performing and recording with Davis. McLaughlin was also influenced in his conception of the band by his studies with Indian guru Sri Chinmoy, who encouraged him to take the name “Mahavishnu”.

McLaughlin had particular ideas for the instrumentation of the group, in keeping with his highly original concept of genre-blending in composition. He particularly wanted a violinist. As the group evolved, McLaughlin adopted what became his trademark double-neck guitar (six-string and twelve-string), and Hammer added a Moog synthesiser, which enabled him to bend notes, mimicking the phrasing of McLaughlin’s guitar.


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  • chedder1

    these god damned dirty hippies sure do make good music.

    7 Oct 8:11pm Reply
  • MusicMagic77

    Once again... >> Wild Strings (live bootleg album, 1972)

    28 Sep 2:06pm Reply
  • thaewrapt

    /me надевает пенсне

    26 Aug 7:38pm Reply
  • Assedor

    Yes, it is a refined music for intellectuals!

    19 Aug 8:22am Reply
  • TaRaBoSt32o14

    Celestial Terrestrial Commuters.

    11 Jul 1:37pm Reply
  • cogsncogs

    More than 40 years and I still love that music!

    6 Jul 11:48pm Reply

    Revisiting MO, what a great time

    15 Jun 4:41am Reply
  • antiperiodic

    Oh boy this is my new jam! Just what I was looking for. [2] Can anyone recommend me some more spazzy Proggy Fusion? I'm pretty new to this kind of music.

    17 May 4:30am Reply
  • WorldInColour

    Oh boy this is my new jam! Just what I was looking for.

    14 May 4:23pm Reply
  • headgear56

    More than 30 years i still love that music!

    20 Apr 11:17pm Reply
  • shurochka_22

    very good!

    12 Mar 7:12pm Reply
  • Slim_rafa


    25 Dec 2013 Reply
  • deedee_27

    I'm so glad I came across this :O amazing!

    14 Dec 2013 Reply
  • solipsismmusic

    Brilliant stuff!

    23 Oct 2013 Reply
  • onthewall2983

    Of the albums after 1973, I like "Apocalypse" the most. I like the orchestral stuff and the band is pretty solid. But I much prefer the original line-up. A band that was never not on fire and influential to so many to come after.

    15 Sep 2013 Reply
  • Skanking_Skippy

    "Between nothingness and eternity is my favorite live album of all time." [x2]

    10 Sep 2013 Reply
  • gacktxrawr

    Between nothingness and eternity is my favorite live album of all time.

    24 Aug 2013 Reply
  • gacktxrawr

    I dare you to smoke to them.

    13 Aug 2013 Reply
  • Walwynwalwyn

    Well don't we go a long way to return to where we started. Was listening to some Terje Rypdal some weeks ago which lead me to a YouTube concert with Billy Cobham from 1994 where they did Birdland (Weather Report). Which reminded me of the Crosswinds album I used to have until it was nicked by the cops during a drugs raid. So I got a replacement from Amazon along with Weather Report, and the MO box set which arrived today, and I'm waiting on some Crusaders compilation box set.

    12 Aug 2013 Reply
  • Assedor

    This respected group has always sought to extract a diverse and deep sound. They have always been adventurous in the choice of material, and in the philosophical approach to the music. They produce a great impression of a mixture of artistry and power of influence. It makes sense to have them for your own collection.

    14 Jul 2013 Reply
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