You Will Not Fall Asleep Listening to the Mahavishnu Orchestra

John McLaughlin was not yet 30 when he formed the Orchestra, the band that would make him a legend among fellow guitarists and devotees of boundary-pushing musical hybrids. Their explosive sound drew as much on Indian music and psychedelic rock as on his earlier experiences playing electrified jazz with Miles Davis and drummer Tony Williams. The teachings of McLaughlin’s then–spiritual guru Sri Chinmoy – who gave him the moniker “Mahavishnu,” a combination of “maha,” meaning great, and the name of the Hindu deity Vishnu – helped inspire the band’s ecstatic intensity. Their performances matched the high-prog complexity of McLaughlin’s compositions with proto-metal muscle and breathtaking dynamic control. 
After coming together in New York 1971, the quintet quickly outgrew clubs and made it all the way to arenas, a rare feat for an instrumental group, and gigged alongside rock heavyweights like Frank Zappa. “Watching them was an education,” Jeff Beck told band biographer Walter Kolosky of seeing the Orchestra’s classic first lineup. “It was like having your pants ripped off and politely put back on again.”

Posted on 27 de October de 2020

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