Mahavishnu Project

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About Mahavishnu Project

The Mahavishnu Project is a fascinating venture into musically creative hero-worship. It's also unique as a "ghost band" devoted to an early-'70s jazz-rock fusion phenomenon. Most such outfits are devotees of big-band ensembles such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Glenn Miller, and the musicians whose work they're devoted to have usually passed on, often long ago. John McLaughlin and his Mahavishnu Orchestra associates are still around, but all of them approve of what the Mahavishnu Project is doing. And it is unique for good reason -- apart from the 21st Century Schizoid Band (which is comprised, in all but one case, of actual former members of King Crimson), it's difficult to think of any other group devoted to the performing of music out of this movement and this particular era, or of any others that would be worthy. Why would anyone seek to emulate the David Clayton-Thomas version of Blood, Sweat & Tears, or the original Chicago's repertory? (And what could the latter legally call itself, with the "Chicago" name trademarked, the Windy City Project? Besides, it could be argued that the current incarnation of Chicago is its own "ghost band.") Interzone drummer Gregg Bendian -- an alumnus of Pat Metheny, Ornette Coleman, and John Zorn -- who had already turned his talents (in collaboration with Nels Cline) to the re-creation of John Coltrane's work and sound on Interstellar Space Revisited: The Music of John Coltrane, was a longtime fan of the original Mahavishnu Orchestra from when he heard their two albums, Inner Mounting Flame and Birds of Fire, as a kid. In 2001, he decided to do something about it by creating the Mahavishnu Project with likeminded musicians. Ever since then, they've been carving out a little niche for themselves as jazz fusion revivalists, and impressing people with their work, building on the only significant band ever spawned by the jazz-rock fusion boom of the early '70s. Most notable among his collaborators have been guitarist Pete McCann (a dedicated McLaughlin devotee), keyboardist Steve Hunt (who's played with Billy Cobham and Allan Holdsworth), and violinists Todd Reynolds and Rob Thomas (the latter of whom is an alumnus of Andy Summers and Tito Puente and a member of the String Trio of New York). On tour, the group has also employed the services of Ennio Morricone collaborator Rocco Zifarelli. Among the album releases by this intiguing "ghost band" are 2002's Live Bootleg and 2004's Phase 2, both issued by Aggregate Records, and Return to the Emerald Beyond, which appeared from Cunieform Records in 2007. ~ Bruce Eder