The Mahavishnu Project's primary focus is the fiery jazz-rock that guitarist John McLaughlin made with the remarkable Mahavishnu Orchestra. But the way it improvises and recombines Mahavishnu tunes suggests its story will grow beyond Live Bootleg, its only album so far.
As with the original Mahavishnu recordings of the '70s, the music on Live Bootleg is extraordinarily complicated and jam-oriented, suggesting why the Mahavishnu Orchestra is cited as an influence on everybody from King Crimson to Phish. The two-disc set, which the Project has been pushing since spring, is 120 minutes of powerful fusion. These musicians are not only ambitious; they're good enough to have been blessed by McLaughlin himself. At 60, McLaughlin is engaged in Shakti, his jazz-raga fusion vehicle. Meanwhile, Mahavishnu's inspiration lives on in a band that twines "The Dance of Maya" and "Birds of Fire" with Mahavishnu-spawned originals, attesting to the improvisatory spirit that fueled fusion in the first place.