Join us August 21st for a night of music of/inspired by the legendary John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra! The night will kick off with a performance by Jacques Entertainment System (Jacques Willis – Vibes/ Keytar, Kate Olson – Sax , Ryan Burns – Keyboard , Geoff Harper – Bass) followed by Being John McLaughlin ( Mark Taylor – Sax, Alicia DeJoie – Violin, Tristan Gianola – Guitar , Ryan Burns – Keyboards, Geoff Harper – Bass , John Bishop – Drums). Read what pianist Ryan Burns and Royal Room’s own sound-man/guitarist Tristan Gianola have to say about the music – or more importantly, all things pertaining to shredding, man-crushes, and “raw power”. Hope to see you there!
RR: How did you first hear the music of the Mahavishnu Orchestra?
RB: I first heard of Mahavishnu at Berklee School of Music. My roommate from Nashville was a huge McLaughlin nut. Also, I had a teacher who offered incentive to come to class the last day of school by pronouncing it Mahavishnu Day. We spent the last hour of the semester listening to the music. Different for a kid who was mostly into Monk and Wynton Kelly! I wish I could say I saw them live, but I’m not THAT hip.
TG: Just about a year ago I had a long drive ahead of me so I asked my friend if he had any CD’s I could borrow. I saw a copy Mahavishnu’s Bird of Fire. I gave it a try. I listened to the album on full blast the whole drive, and then again on the way back. It just knocked my socks off!
RR: What interests you about the work of the players in the original band?
RB: As a keyboard player, I was really interested in Jan Hammer, and his use of electronics, especially the analog sounds of the Fender Rhodes and Moog Synthesizer. I knew he did Miami Vice and other soundtrack work, but he was really letting loose in this band. I also developed a healthy idolization/man-crush on John McLaughlin, so much so that when I went to his clinic at UW a few years ago, I was nervous and had sweaty palms!
TG: Of course I became interested in McLaughin’s aggressive playing from a guitarist’s perspective. I found out that during the time he started Mahavishnu he was doing Yoga three times a day…the guy was very fit, no wonder he could shred like that! But what intrigues me even more is how the musicians played together. Every one of them shreds as fast and as aggressively as possible, yet the music never sounds confused or muddy, just dirty and mean. It is a total wank-fest, but never feels over indulgent. If you watch live footage of the band they were so instinctive, and their communication simply freed them to do anything. The world never heard a band so loud and fast at the time, it literally scared people.
How does this music relate to or differ from your usual work?
RB: Less swing, more rock. Less 4/4, more odd meters. LOUDER! But it’s all the same notes…
TG: Less legato, less reverb, and more grit and grime! Also the harmonics have a static quality and even if there are some dissonant and underlying figures you can still just play blues licks over it. How cool! As far as the guitar role goes, it’s minimal in effects and extended techniques and focused on good ol’ rock n’ roll!
What are the origins of the Royal Room incarnation of this band?
RB: Our bassist, Geoff Harper loved the song “You Know, You Know” from Inner Mounting Flame. I think we talked about doing it in our Miles Davis electric tribute band “Live Evil” in the 90’s, but counting it was too weird for me. A few years later, my go-to sax player in town to hire for gigs (Rick Mandyck) switched to guitar. Between Rick and Geoff both wanting to cover McLaughlin stuff, and awesome sounding re-masters being released of Mahavishnu stuff, it seemed natural to get a band together and learn the material. Drummer John Wicks (now with Fitz and the Tantrums and Bruno Mars) got interested, so he was in the first incarnation of the group called Being John McLaughlin. We could not find a violinist, so we used Mark Taylor on alto sax for those parts, who blew the house half stack speaker at Patti Summers trying to be heard on our first gig. We were cranking it. Later, Wicks got busy, so we used Matt Jorgensen on gigs and a Sonarchy recording. Matt is not available for the Royal Room gig, so he recommended his Origin partner John Bishop. Also, Rick now plays PIANO, so Tristan, who was going to play in a separate group for this night is now with us! Since then, Tristan has also brought violinist Alicia Dejoie of Seattle quintet Moraine on board.
What can we expect for this upcoming show? What material will you guys be covering?
RB: All material will be from the first two records “Inner Mounting Flame” and “Birds of Fire.” There are many differing opinions out there, but most of us in the band feel this was the most raw, best sounding stuff the group ever did.
TG: … like Ryan said, the first two albums, which are just plain RAW
Meeting Of The Spirits/You Know, You Know, Live at the BBC, 1972
Please join us Wednesday, August 21st for “Inner Mounting Flame: Music of John Mclaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra”. 8 PM/ Suggested Donation.