Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars The best jazz rock album of its year, 25 Jun 2003
This review is from: Exceisior (Audio CD)
There have been several attempts by bands to recreate the sound of the legendary jazz rock band, Mahavishnu Orchestra. The Mahvishnu Project, with a line up of jazz musicians, recently pulled it off, impressing Johh McLaughlin to boot. The Japanese band Kennedy did a knock about version of the "Birds Of Fire" tune, on their "Live" album (Musea Records). However, to me "Excelsior!" is the best recording with the feel of Mahavishnu, without the wholesale lifting of compositions and arrangements. The addition of Swedish keyboard master Jens Johansson to the brothers Berends, is inspired - Johansson (when not doing his day job with Stravavarious), is the modern day Jan Hammer. Apparently, Mastermind started out aiming for a tight, instrumental, heavy progressive album. Instead, they have managed to go much further and produce a latterday jazz rock gem. It should be noted their European record label SPV insisted the term "jazz rock" be avoided in publicity - but what do record companies know?

All tunes are excellent. The opening track "On The Road By Noon", is an obvious reference to MO's "Noonward Race", but is no slavish copy. While there is the tight interplay which was one of the hallmarks of Mahavishnu O, (heard as call and response between two or three lead instruments), the arrangements and excellent playing skills on "Excelsior!" differ. Bill Berends has claimed he is an inferior guitarist to McLaughlin, but what he produces here is free of the obvious progressive rock cliches: it is fresh and grips you. And then there is a lot to be said about the synergism generated by between Berends and Johansson, it is phenomenal. (To hear the same musicians but in a completely different context playing music of equal excellence, check out Mastermind's follow-up album "Angels of the Apocalypse" and especially the superior version of ELP's "Endless Enigma"). Add to this all sound effects rarely heard since the beginning of the 70's (e.g ring modulators), then you have a special album.
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5.0 out of 5 stars (4 customer reviews)
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Location: Loughborough, Leics, UK

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