Each of these virtuosi are given license to improvise with 24 eighth note beats in Dorian mode. Freedom within tight constraints is the secret to good improvisations. This is what I have enjoyed most in my work with Paris1919, a band led by Chris Strouth. We are by no means as accomplished as these people (John McLaughlin - guitar; Jan Hammer - keyboards; Jerry Goodman - violin; Rick Laird - bass; Billy Cobham - drums) but they are our heroes. In their day, the Mahavishnu Orchestra was the popularizer of high-octane improvisation in mixed meters and octatonic scales. I have been listening to a number of young bands online testing their wings in this same mix of approaches (now nearly 50 years old!).
I'm fascinated with composing for virtuosi. Making a performance that looks and sounds nearly impossible while at the same time making it completely routine to execute is one of the great challenges for any composer. It is a magic trick well-worth the effort. And once an audience understands the trick it only adds to the enjoyment.
So, enjoy 1971. You know you know.
Composer Randall Davidson creates music, and performs, produces, and promotes music of others. This blog is an annotated, virtual playlist of the music that he loves and that he calls "sticky" (aka memorable).