Mahavishnu Orchestra Live at Montreux 1974 / 1984

Mahavishnu Orchestra Live at Montreux 1974 / 1984
While it’s earth shaking for fans of Mahavishnu to realise that footage is available at all, this two-disc release is a slight misnomer. This is not the original five-piece that breathed fire into jazz-fusion but a worthy taste of later incarnations, from 1974 and 1984, respectfully. The ’74, 11-player line-up are the most powerful, as Jean-Luc Ponty, bassist and drummer Ralphe Armstrong and Michael "Narada” Walden push John McLaughlin to expected, extended heights, notably on the 22-minute "Wings of Karma,” as a full horn and string section come clean on the "orchestra” concept. Yet only two of the six songs provided offer accompanying video footage (the balance being audio only). The ’84 band offer the rock-solid rhythm section of Jonas Hellborg and Danny Gottlieb, yet the smaller troupe fail to capture or fully reignite the original band’s inner mounting flame. At over 234 minutes, fans and fans-to-be are rewarded with an illuminating glimpse into the genius of McLaughlin’s compositions by any account with two valid attempts to keep Mahavishnu’s flame alive and burning. (Eagle Rock)