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Power, Passion & Beauty: The Story of the Legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra Paperback – July 31, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...a terrific story beautifully told." -- Allaboutjazz.com

"One of the greatest books to come out in 2006." -- Tom Gagliardi of the Gagliarchives Radio and Internet show

"a fascinating story of the music, the spirit of the times, and of the people. A must read..." -- Jazzrockworld.com
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 313 pages
  • Publisher: Abstract Logix Books; 1 edition (July 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976101629
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976101628
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,260,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. laird on August 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
A most enjoyable read, Walter knows more about the MO then I do and I was the bass player! The facts are covered and there are bios of each of the members prior to the formation of the band

along with interviews from Pat Methany, Herbie Hancock and many others, plus some great photos. If you were a MO fan, you've got to read this book.
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Format: Paperback
Due to the extensive and detailed research, this book is a must-read for any die-hard MO fan; but be prepared to slog through some lame prose.

Positives: Due to the paucity of information that has been available on the MO in the past, the depth and variety of insights that Kolosky has collected in this book are both astounding and riveting. The interviews with the band members are particularly great to read. The book humanizes every member, and does a good job of showing how each of them brought different talents, perspectives and insecurities that led to both the brilliance and the eventual demise of the group. I felt confident that Kolosky has left no stone unturned in his quest to illuminate us as to exactly what made the MO so great.

Negatives: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the MO, and can honestly say that their music has affected my life more than any other art I have ever encountered. But even I was put off by Kolosky's simpering fanboy tone. While the research is meticulous and impressive, the quality of the writing made the book an absolute drudge to read. A biased, reverent tone is welcome, as are some personal thoughts; but Kolosky often intrudes on the story, digressing and generally mucking it up with his opinions and self-indulgence. You're going to have to be a VERY dedicated fan to make it through.
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Format: Paperback
Being an ardent Mahavishnu fan, I could not wait to read what I thought would be an inside look into the band's genius. Boy was I disappointed. In short, the book substantially consists of the author's gushing (to the point of distraction) about how great the band is and quotes from various musicians discussing the first time they heard the band and how great the band is. I'm sorry, but I could not care less to hear about how great the band is from other musicians. I already know the band is great. I get it. Why do I need to read page after page about the first time the author heard the band and what the band means to him? I was hoping to gain insight and detail into how the music was created and a personal look into the minds that created it. It would also have been nice to get a glimpse into the inner conflicts that plagued the band, but the author, obviously ga ga over the band, appeared afraid to travel down that path or say anything that might even remotely be controversial. There is nothing revealed in this book that any fan would not otherwise know except maybe details concerning the font the band used. In short, this a very superficial read about a complex and important musicial group.
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The good news is you have to agree with most of Kolosky's conclusions regarding the place of the MO in the history of music. They remain unique, spanning the improvisation of jazz, the compositional sensibility of classicism, the rhythmic variation of Indian music and the energy and power of Rock. The bad news is Kolosky's methodology and his own limitations prevent a completely satisfying book. The book consists almost entirely of interviews, which in and of itself is not a problem. but in telling the story Kolosky doesn't always ask the right questions. He does effectively trace the careers of the key participants and the interviews provide a wealth of anecdotal information detailing the short life of the Mo, but his lack of technical knowledge leave us still guessing at the processes that created this unique band, its triumphs and limitations.
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From the first time I heard MO on Don Kirschner's Rock Concert so many years ago until now I've been hooked. I have followed each member's career and personal life as much as I could. John is my absolute favorite musician of all time. Billy, Jan, Jerry, and Rick are are every bit as important to me in so many ways as to be countless. To say the music spoke to me then and still does now is true. To read quotes from others who feel the same as me is always exciting. To hear my own thoughts expressed more eloquently than is possible for me is humbling. The Mahavishnu Orchestra music has been, is and always will be a part of my life. This music was "instrumental" (no pun intended) in helping me form my spiritual views as well as being pleasant for ME to listen to, although I've managed to alienate a few folks by listening to it. Oh, well... their loss...LOL... Anyhow, it was a wonderful read and very informative and interesting to me.
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Format: Paperback
As a fan of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, I have such vivid memories of seeing the band in performance during the early 1970s. After requesting a minute of silence (in which you could literaly hear a pin drop), John McLaughlin and the his fellow band mates would launch into its performance. The ferocity and intensity of the live performance would literally make your hair stand on edge and give you the feeling of what it must be like to be caught within a hurricane. I still have visions of John McLaughlin and his double-necked Gibson pointing to the skies and playing with a speed and dexterity unlike anything I had ever witnessed. I became a believer. Simply amazing...

"Power, Passion & Beauty: The Story of the Legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra" by Walter Kolosy fully captures that feeling; it totally defines what makes the Mahavishnu Orchestra "the greatest band that there ever was." The author weaves the story of the creation (and demise) of the Mahavishnu Orchestra through the eyes and ears of a fan. But beyond the author's words, you will also hear the words of the band members from Mahavishnu Orchestra 1 and 2 as well as of those who witnessed this band and had their lives and musical influences changed forever. Legendary musicians such as Pat Metheny, Jimmy Herring, Jeff Beck, John Abercrombie, Steve Morse, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock (to name just a few) all agreed to share their thoughts on the band in this book.

The world has never lost interest in the Mahavishnu Orchestra; if anything it clamors to hear its works, see its performances, and to know more about the band and what it represented in the world of jazz and rock. There is an entire younger generation that continues to hunger for music by this band.
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