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November 2005

Various Artists
Visions of an Inner Mounting Apocalpyse: A Fusion Guitar Tribute
Tone Center

The Mahavishnu Orchestra's The Inner Mounting Flame was a landmark date in jazz-rock history, a magical session that brilliantly combined the virtuosity of jazz with the relentless exuberance of rock. That's sometimes the case on this tribute date, with the core group including onetime Mahavishnu violinist Jerry Goodman teaming with ace drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, bassist Kai Eckhardt, keyboardist Mitchel Forman and guitarist Jeff Richman.

The various guests take several approaches. One is faithfully reproducing the spirit and sensibility of the original cuts, done most memorably by John Abercrombie on "Follow Your Heart" and Steve Lukather on "Birds of Fire." Another involves staying within your specialty, as Mike Stern dispenses an array of slick lines and R&B-tinged phrases on "Can't Stand Your Funk" and Steve Morse and Warren Haynes deliver slicing blues and rock riffs within their solos on "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters" and "Lila's Dance."

But the real surprises come from Greg Howe, Frank Gambale and Jeff Richman in their takes on "Dance of Maya," "Dawn" and "Jazz." In each case, the player uses the main melody as a takeoff point for either sensational moments (Howe) or crisp and clever restatement (Gambale and Richman-the latter also served as producer and principal arranger). While not quite a unified, neat commemoration of either the Mahavishnu Orchestra or John McLaughlin, Visions does show through its myriad portraits glimpses of what made the original band so memorable.

Originally published in November 2005
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