Born: 1971 Primary Instrument: Band/orchestra
Mahavishnu Orchestra - progressive jazz/fusion ensemble
John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra is considered by many to be the greatest Jazz-fusion group of all time. The group was formed in late 1970-early 1971 by McLaughlin, a brilliant guitarist with a jazz-rock pedigree that included work with the Graham Bond Organization in the mid-60s, and with the electrified Miles Davis on his landmark Bitches Brew LP in 1969.
The original Orchestra included Jan Hammer (later to score TV's Miami Vice) on keyboards, Jerry Goodman on violin, Rick Laird on bass, and Billy Cobham on drums. Signed with much hoopla to Columbia in 1971, they released two fabulous studio albums, “Inner Mounting Flame,” (’71) and “Birds of Fire,” (’72) along with a live ‘73 album, “Between Nothingness and Eternity.”
A reformation of the group in 1974 brought Jean-Luc Ponty on board to play violin, Gayle Moran on keyboards and vocals, Ralphe Armstrong on bass, and drummer Michael Warden. This lineup recorded “Apocalpyse, in ’74. There were other personnel changes but by 1975 the band had disbanded after the album “Visions of the Emerald Beyond.”
There was another attempt in 1984 to revive the band with Cobham again on drums, Bill Evans on saxophone, Mitchell Forman, keyboards, Jonas Hellborg on bass and Danny Gottlieb on drums. This lineup released “Mahavishnu,” on Warner Brothers, to lukewarm responses from the audience.
The original Mahavishnu Orchestra and its debut album “The Inner Mounting Flame,” was a extremely innovative and high energy hallmark in the development of progressive jazz fusion.