Rick Laird was born in Dublin in 1941. His family emigrated to New Zealand where he began to play both jazz and pop in his teens, first in Auckland in 1959 and later in Sydney, and eventually concentrating on jazz. He moved to London to study and began to make inroads in the London jazz scene, eventually joining Ronnie Scott's house band where he backed many visiting big names.
But Rick Laird is best known as part of the original 1971-73 lineup of seminal fusion band the Mahavishnu Orchestra with John McLaughlin (leader/guitar), Jerry Goodman (violin), Jan Hammer (keyboards) and Billy Cobham (drums). They made two outstanding albums, "The Inner Mounting Flame" (CBS, 1971) and "Birds Of Fire" (CBS, 1973), and a live set "Between Nothingness and Eternity" (CBS, 1973) but split while recording a third studio album at Trident Studios in London. The album was shelved and the recordings finally issued in 1999 as "The Lost Trident Sessions". Unlike the first two studio albums, this album included material by band members other than John McLaughlin, including Laird's own "Steppings Tones", which may have increased the tensions within the band. The band split at the very end of 1973.
Laird remained in New York for a number of years making live and studio dates for various band leaders, including replacing Stanley Clarke in Return To Forever in 1978, but eventually he began to tire of the hustle of being a musician for hire and decided to hang up his bass to pursur a successful career as a photographer. But not before recording his lone solo album.
"Soft Focus" was recorded in Weesp in Holland with Joe Henderson (sax), Tom Grant (piano) and Ron Steen (drums). It was his only recording as leader. It includes two Laird originals "Now You Know" and "Soft Focus" as well as tracks by Henderson, Jan Hammer and Cole Porter's "I Love You".
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