Sunday Big Note – Listening Session #2

It would be another year – the last week of April and the early weeks of May 1973 – before the Mahavishnu Orchestra found themselves on the road opening for Frank Zappa and the Mothers Of Invention on the tour promoting Zappa‘s Over-Nite Sensation album. Yet, as the above clip of Ruth Underwood illustrates, the Mahavishnu Orchestra had a profound effect upon Zappa and the direction which his music took.

In this Sunday Big Note – Listening Session #2, we find the Mahavishnu Orchestra at Emerson Gymnasium, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, on April 21st, 1972, performing tracks from my all time favourite jazz fusion album, Mahavishnu Orchestra‘s 1971 The Inner Mounting Flame:

Meeting of the Spirits

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You Know, You Know

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The Dance of Maya

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The Noonward Race

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Original Lineup:

John McLaughlin – guitar
Jan Hammer – keyboards
Jerry Goodman – violin
Rick Laird – bass
Billy Cobham – drums

8 Responses to “Sunday Big Note – Listening Session #2”

  1. Paul says:

    It is also one of my favorite fusion albums as well as RTF -Romantic Warrior.I have every album Mahavishnu released.Thank you for posting this exciting music!

  2. Hugh says:

    I love the Drum Channel segment.
    Mahavishnu/Mothers show?! Now that’s a night out!
    I still remember finding my brother’s “Inner Mounting Flame”(and “Birds of Fire”) album among his stacks of lp’s. It didn’t take long for my friends and I to quickly go from Page to McLaughlin fans.
    Excellent Listening Session! :)

  3. jonnybutter2 says:

    I actually saw a concert on this tour, at Cobo Hall in Detroit. As I remember, it was Mahavishnu first, then Frank – both shows relatively short. And loud!

    Sorry, but I find Mahavishnu a bit boring, and always have. I’m sure it’s the context though: like a lot of fusion, Mahavishnu is sort of humorless, and Frank is, of course, anything but humorless. It’s not that Mahavishnu is bad, but…the comparison is just not fair. To me, the problem with most fusion is uninspired composition; yes, the players can really play, but the pieces are more like vehicles for soloing/jamming than compositions. Which would you rather listen to – a ‘vehicle’ or a composition?

    I also am not sure I’d say that Mahavishnu had a ‘profound influence’ on Zappa. It may have changed his direction (lucky for us!) but…anyway, that’s a minor quibble.

  4. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    I also am not sure I’d say that Mahavishnu had a ‘profound influence’ on Zappa. It may have changed his direction (lucky for us!) but…anyway, that’s a minor quibble.

    Perhaps to say that Mahavishnu had a ‘profound influence’ on Zappa was a bit much. It can be said, though, that they challenged Zappa’s sound in the short term. The Roxy Band, in my opinion, is Zappa’s only real adventure into jazz fusion which Mahavishnu had some influence.

  5. jonnybutter2 says:

    Yeah, I would buy that, UG.

    I remember Zappa saying (in reference to having read a ‘few pages’ of Joyce, I think) that ‘It doesn’t take much to influence me’. I relate to that. And what a fantastic thing the influence of hearing Mahavishnu produced!

  6. Mike Tiberio says:

    My first Zappa concert was in ’73 at the Nassau Colosseum on Long Island. Leo Kottke was the opening act. I had never heard of him, but obviously became a big fan after that. I was already a big fan of Mclaughlins and Zappas at that point, and the concert didn’t do anything to shake my faith. Franks foray into fusion with the Overnight band was a watershed for him, I believe, the beginning of his first real attempt to “be commercial”. Fusion was big at that time, and Frank wanted to ride that pony. I still get chills when I listen to 50-50 and Ponty gives that lead in into his solo off of Dukes organ solo.

  7. Reporter Sterbus says:

    From: lantz@primenet.com (Bill Lantz)
    It is in the Interview called “One Size Fits All (1977) and is in the Miller Freedman’s A Definitive Tribute to Frank Zappa.
    Steve Rosen: What about the contemporary heavies, like Jeff Beck or John McLaughlin?
    Frank Zappa: I like Jeff, yeah. I’ve listened to “Wired” [Epic], and there are a couple of solos on there that I like. And I like some of his stuff on “Rough and Ready” [Epic]. A person woud be a moron not to appreciate McLaughlin’s technique. The guy has certainly found out how to operate a guitar as if it were a machine gun. But I’m not always enthusiastic about the lines I hear or the ways in which they’re used. I don’t think you can fault him, though, for the amount of time and effort it must have taken to play an instrument that fast. I think anybody who can play that fast is just wonderful. And I’m sure 90% of teenage America would agree, since the whole trend in the business has been “faster is better.”

  8. Hugh says:

    I sure McLaughlin could’ve been a decent “stunt guitarist” for Frank. Ha! :)

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