JEAN-LUC PONTY — Live (review)

JEAN-LUC PONTY — Live album cover Live album · 1979 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Sean Trane
By the end of 78, Ponty had a bunch of albums recorded after having resumed his solo career after stints with Zappa and Mahavishnu Orchestra. Most of his 70’s albums are fairly similar to each other, hovering around a Fusion jazz-rock so typical of the time, which had many qualities but could also at times approach elevator music. To actually designate an album where you could start your investigations would be rather difficult as all albums are fairly even in quality. One of the best advice I could give to a Ponty rookie is to try out this live album where obviously are weeded-out the quieter almost-muzak moments of his studio albums.

Among the better and livelier moments are the Aurora excerpts and the finale of Imaginary Voyage which are wise choices. Although the live versions are fairly close to the studio version, there is a little more presence and enthusiasm in this album. This just about deals with the first side of the album, which goes by rather quick driven a frenetic-paced 100mph JR/F.

The second side is giving more variety in styles (while staying typically Ponty-esque) with the reflective Mirage (and its haunting synth line dominating the track), while the No Strings Attached presents Ponty on his own with loops and sequencers which were most likely state of the art (the crowd is appreciative), but this is the low point (all things considered) of the album as it has maybe not aged that well nowadays. The closing Egocentric Molecules insure that the fusion of the album is chemically complete and the show successful. Wise decision to have let the album issued as a single vinyl, though.

Warmly recommended as a proper intro to Ponty’s more “prestigious” period where he held a high profile and his band was made of highly talented jazz musos bringing the collective virtuosity levels to monstrous levels.

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