Mahavishnu Orchestra were a multinational jazz-rock fusion band formed in New York City in 1971 by English guitarist John McLaughlin. The band’s original lineup featured “Mahavishnu” John McLaughlin on guitar, Panamanian drummer Billy Cobham, Irish bassist Rick Laird, Czechoslovakian keyboardist Jan Hammer, and American violinist Jerry Goodman.
McLaughlin had specific ideas for the instrumentation of the group in keeping with his highly original concept of genre-blending in composition. He particularly wanted a violinist as an integral contributor to its overall sound. As the group evolved, McLaughlin adopted what became his visual trademark — a double neck guitar (six-string and twelve-string) which allowed for a great degree of diversity in musical textures — and Hammer became one of the first to play a Minimoog synthesizer in an ensemble, which enabled him to add more sounds and solo more freely alongside the guitar and the violin.
Their musical style was an original blend of genres: they combined the high-volume electrified rock sound, complex rhythms in unusual time signatures that reflected McLaughlin’s interest in Indian classical music as well as funk, and harmonic influence from European classical music. Presented here are tracks from their first two albums. These guys played “upstairs”.