Recorded on the second night of a two-night stand at New York City’s Avery Fisher Hall, this recording captures one of the last performances by the legendary original lineup. Although missing the beginning of the set, what is available is a fascinating glimpse of the Mahavishnu Orchestra at the tail end of their existence:
This night’s recording begins in progress, with the group exploring the infectious groove of “You Know, You Know,” one of the most popular compositions from their debut album, The Inner Mounting Flame.
Next up is Jerry Goodman’s composition, “I Wonder.” Recorded during the Trident sessions several months prior and recorded again in 1974 by Goodman and Hammer for their Like Children album following the breakup, this version features expansive improvisations, beginning with an emotional solo from McLaughlin that relies more on bluesy string bends and a fat biting tone as opposed to speed. Goodman and Hammer both take impressive solos as well.
Shortly after the nine-minute mark, Cobham launches the band into a furious version of “Awakening.” A tape change misses a few seconds of this (approximately 1:15 in), but it is otherwise complete. “Awakening” is divided into three distinct sections, each focused around an outstanding solo from one of the band members, bridged together by reinstatements of the original theme.
The version of “Hope” that follows unfolds in an elegant, magisterial way and provides listeners with a brief break in the relentless intensity that preceded it. However, this lasts less than two minutes before Cobham signals one of their classic turn-on-a-dime transitions.
To fully pummel the audience into submission, they close the set with “Vital Transformation.” In 9/8 time, this contains some of the most furious playing that the band would ever achieve.
This is one ferocious concert. Click here to listen to it at Wolfgang’s Vault.
This version of Mahavishnu Orchestra are:
Billy Cobham – drums
Jerry Goodman – violin
Jan Hammer – keyboards
Rick Laird – bass
John McLaughlin – guitar