Tony William’s Lifetime – Turn it Over – 4/5
Miles Davis is often a commonly cited name whenever Jazz Fusion occurs, a talented trumpet player (albeit his style was one I couldn’t get into, thus his absence from the special), he was also incredibly good at discovering talent. As well as discovering Herbie Hancock, he also introduced guitar legend John McLaughlin to notable drummer Tony Williams. Prior to forming ‘Mahavishnu Orchestra,’ this duo recruited Larry Young on the organs, and then for this – their second album – also bassist Jack Bruce. A certifiable super-group of jazz-fusion musicians, welcome to a virtuoso lover’s paradise.
Whilst the bass spends most of its time sitting in the back, it at times helps to keep a steady rhythm throughout the track, which whilst seeming rather insignificant in itself becomes rather important at times when all other members are going off on a tangent at the same time. The drumming is insatiable, not the quickest of the pack he instead compensates by a terrific variety, creating some of the most unusual chaotic passages and tempo shifts I can name, excelling above all else in his use of volume. Capable of gently caressing the drums through the slower emotional passages, then wailing on them with a chaotic fury in an instant.
McLaughlin too proves himself many a time, occasionally working with a sprucey rock tone in the back, when brought forward he often performs with a nice and noisy distorted tone, he wails on that guitar throughout many of the tracks, working with the organ as often as not. And it is the organ that makes this sound unusual, distinct from a keyboard it has a ‘warbly’ effect, never used for a gothic tone, he creates a slight disturbed at times, muddy and blurred tone to the proceedings, and with a strong presence is likely to be the make or break for whether you will enjoy this album. Performed well, it must be said he can at times get overzealous with his love for the instrument, and can become a little tiring.
Despite this, the album certainly showcases the two leading ‘Mahavishnu Orchestra’ founders at their finest, delivering a solid helping of fusion madness, with guest vocalists (both male and female) adding some variation to the proceedings, this would make an excellent album for an introduction to the genre.
Highlights: To Whom it May Concern-Them, Right On, Vuelto Abajo