Friday, December 8th at San Francisco’s Warfield Theater, saw the penultimate performance of the legendary jazz guitarist John McLaughlin. Following his final show in Los Angeles the next night, McLaughlin officially retired from all live performances in America, ending this tour with his stellar 4th Dimension band. It was a bittersweet show indeed, however McLaughlin didn’t disappoint his fans, closing out his career with an incendiary outing of music both old and new alongside bassist Etienne Mbappe, keyboardist/drummer Gary Husband and drummer percussionist Ranjit Barot. Earlier in the show, McLaughlin recalled his 1981 performance at the theater with the late guitarist Paco De Lucia, Al DiMeola, and their memorable live album “Friday Night in San Francisco”, described by jazz author and critic Walter Kolosky as “a musical event that could be compared to the Benny Goodman Band’s performance at Carnegie Hall in 1938; And may be considered the most influential of all live acoustic guitar albums…”
I count myself among those fortunate enough to have witnessed McLaughlin numerous times and might I add, in a variety of incarnations since the early 1970s. From my first concert with his Mahavishnu Orchestra at Washington, D.C.’s American University (and later on my birthday at Constitution Hall that December); his subsequent Mahavishnu lines ups with Jean-Luc Ponty, Narada Michael Walden, and Ralphe Armstrong; The original Shakti with Zakir Hussain and Al Shankar; organ trios with Joey DeFrancesco and Dennis Chambers; his One Truth Band, his trio with Kai Eckhardt and Trilok Guru; seeing his Remember Shakti tour in Montreal; and so many, many others.
Longtime McLaughlin biographer Walter Kolosky has now released a pictorial follow up to his previous and critically acclaimed book “Power, Passion and Beauty – The Story Of The Legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra”, entitled “The Mahavishnu Picture Book”. This new “ebook” features a foreword, written by the aforementioned, master musician Gary Husband. “The Kindle book contains more than seventy impactful and inspiring never before seen images of the band, and the histories behind them. Also included is special commentary from members of The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Sean Lennon, Steve Lukather, Neal Schon, Chick Corea, Mario Batali, Jon Anderson, Todd Rundgren and many others. The Kindle book also contains bonus pictures, extras, and an exclusive — the only known audio interview, never before heard, of the original Mahavishnu Orchestra!”
Kolosky’s first book has also been updated and released as an ebook; “The Mahavishnu Orchestra, founded by guitarist John McLaughlin, was the first band to fuse jazz, rock and world music into critical and commercial success. The Special Edition eBook “Power, Passion and Beauty” is the updated version of Walter Kolosky’s critically acclaimed work first published in 2006. The Special Edition eBook is brand new to those who have not read the original printed version of this riveting story. For those that have, many new anecdotes, insights, opinions, and an extra chapter updating the story of Mahavishnu have been added. The list of those sharing their views and memories of Mahavishnu for the original book was staggering. Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul, Pat Metheny, Sir George Martin, Jeff Beck, all of the original Mahavishnu members and almost 150 others helped tell the tale. This time around, Carlos Santana, Chick Corea, Steve Howe and many other noted artists, producers, audio engineers and spiritual travelers join in to add their views….”
Both books, are a must have for McLaughlin/Mahavishnu fans, the latter featuring footage in both black and white, as well as color; many by the photographers Peter Duray-Bito, Al Faaet and Don Smith. Seeing McLaughlin’s double-neck Gibson guitar, Billy Cobham’s classic clear plexiglass Fibes drums, and Jan Hammer’s vintage keyboards were worth the $10 price tag alone. Coupled with photos of Narada Michael Walden, violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, and the rest of the second incarnation of the Mahavishnu Orchestra were an added bonus. Perhaps just as intriguing was the commentary by so many of the Mahavishnu’s fellow musicians, fans, and photographers who candidly recalled that era, bringing so many memories back to life.
I’ll always carry with me my own memories of those bygone, yet unforgettable shows by McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra; they made an incalculable impression on me and so many others, and changed the way we looked and listened to music. For more info on Kolosky’s books, photos, and informative podcasts, you can visit http://www.walterkolosky.com/.
Here’s a video of John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension at 50th Montreux Jazz Festival 2016…