1.6.20

JEAN-LUC PONTY - Upon the Wings of Music (1975) APE (image+.cue), lossless


Jean-Luc Ponty, who at the time was still with the second version of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, is heard playing his own brand of fusion on this excellent recording. Upon the Wings of Music set the standard for his music of the next decade. With keyboardist Patrice Rushen, Dan Sawyer or Ray Parker on guitars, bassist Ralphe Armstrong and drummer Ndugu, the violinist performs eight of his highly arranged but spirited originals. His early Atlantic recordings (of which this is the first) remain underrated for their important contributions to the history of fusion. by Scott Yanow
Tracklist:
1 Upon The Wings Of Music 5:24
2 Question With No Answer 3:25
3 Now I Know 4:25
Synthesizer [Strings Synthesizer] – Jean-Luc Ponty
4 Polyfolk Dance 5:10
5 Waving Memories 5:40
6 Echoes Of The Future 3:08
7 Bowing-Bowing 4:52
8 Fight For Life 3:34
Credits:
Arranged By, Composed By, Electric Violin, Electric Violin [Violectra], Violin [Acoustic] – Jean-Luc Ponty
Bass Guitar, Electric Bass – Ralphe Armstrong
Drums, Rototoms, Percussion – Leon Ndugu Chancler
Electric Guitar – Dan Sawyer (tracks: Except 8), Ray Parker Jr. (tracks: 8)
Electric Piano, Piano [Acoustic], Synthesizer, Organ, Clavinet – Patrice Rushen
Producer, Composed By, Arranged By – Jean-Luc Ponty

JEAN-LUC PONTY - Imaginary Voyage (1976) WV (image+.cue), lossless)

As of 1976, Jean-Luc Ponty's variations on the Mahavishnu Orchestra theme were still fresh and imaginative, cast in a distinctively different, more lyrical, more controlled framework. For Imaginary Voyage, Ponty's instrumental lineup is identical to that of Mahavishnu -- electric violin, guitar, keyboards, bass, drums -- but he turns the emphasis on its head, with all commands coming directly from the violin (his) and less competitive crossplay emanating from his colleagues. For starters, "New Country" is a lively jazz-rock hoedown, one of those periodic C&W side trips that some fusioneers attempt for a lark, and "The Gardens of Babylon" is a wonderfully memorable tune, the beginnings of which grow out of "New Country." The last half of the LP is taken up by the title composition, a strong four-part suite that hangs together with barely a snag in interest over its 20-minute span. by Richard S. Ginell
Tracklist:
1. New Country (3:07)
2. The Gardens Of Babylon (5:06)
3. Wandering On The Milky Way (Violin Solo) (1:50)
4. Once Upon A Dream (4:08)
5. Tarantula (4:04)
6. Imaginary Voyage
Part I (2:22)
Part II (4:05)
Part III (5:28)
Part IV (8:00)
Total Time 38:10
Line-up / Musicians
- Jean-Luc Ponty / Electric and acoustic violins, organ and background synthesizers
- Marc Craney / Percussion
- Tom Fowler / Electric bass
- Daryl Steurmer / Electric and acoustic guitars
- Allan Zavod / Electric keyboards and acoustic piano

JEAN-LUC PONTY - Enigmatic Ocean (1977) WV (image+.cue), lossless

Consistently imaginative, Enigmatic Ocean is one of Jean-Luc Ponty's finest accomplishments. The French violinist recorded his share of fusion gems during the 1970s, and this album is at the top of the list. Often aggressive but sometimes reflective and moody, this LP is as unpredictable as it is adventurous. Ponty has plenty of room to stretch out, let loose, and blow, and electric guitarists Allan Holdsworth and Daryl Stuermer contribute some inspired solos as well. Also quite impressive is the insightful and passionate drumming of Steve Smith, who went on to lead the superb fusion band Vital Information. Ponty takes one risk after another, and all of them pay off beautifully. by Alex Henderson
Tracklist:
1. Overture (0:47)
2. The Trans-Love Express (3:56)
3. Mirage (4:54)
4. Enigmatic Ocean
Part I (2:20)
Part II (3:35)
Part III (3:43)
Part IV (2:24)
5. Nostalgic Lady (5:20)
6. Struggle Of The Sea Turtle
Part I (3:32)
Part II (3:33)
Part III (6:05)
Total Time 45:00
Personnel
Jean-Luc Ponty – electric violin, five-string electric violin,violectra, bells, grand piano on Nostalgic Lady
Allan Holdsworth – lead electric guitar
Daryl Stuermer – lead and rhythm electric guitar
Allan Zavod – organ, synthesizer, electric piano, grand piano, clavinet
Ralphe Armstrong – electric basses, fretless bass
Steve Smith – drums and percussion

JEAN-LUC PONTY - Individual Choice (1983) WV (image+.cue), lossless


Here is Ponty's radical break with his past, one that further tightened his control over his craft while ironically liberating his muse. In laying out his attractive new music on synthesizers and sequencers, emphasizing revolving ostinato patterns, Ponty rejuvenated his melodic gift, and as a result, even in this controlled setting, his violin solos take on a new freshness and exuberance. Except for two tracks, Ponty does without a formal rhythm section -- and on two other tracks, he goes it completely alone. Indeed, he does best of all when he has no one but himself to play with on "Computer Incantations for World Peace" and the lovely mood piece "Eulogy to Oscar Romero." Guest interloper George Duke (a fellow refugee from Frank Zappa's band) contributes a Minimoog solo to ""In Spiritual Love," where Ponty provides his own percussive backing on rhythm computer. Even if one grumbles on principle about the reduction of spontaneity in Ponty's music over the Atlantic years, the musical end here absolutely justifies the means. Don't miss it.  by Richard S. Ginell
Tracklist:
Computer Incantations for World Peace 5:41
Jean-Luc Ponty
Far from the Beaten Paths 5:59
Jean-Luc Ponty
3 In Spiritual Love 7:01
Jean-Luc Ponty
Eulogy to Oscar Romero 2:32 
Jean-Luc Ponty
Nostalgia 5:02
Jean-Luc Ponty
Individual Choice 4:56
Jean-Luc Ponty
In Spite of All 5:55
Jean-Luc Ponty
Credits
Jean-Luc Ponty – violin, organ, synthesizer, keyboards, vocals, keyboard bass, rhythm programming
Allan Holdsworth – guitar
Rayford Griffin – drums, percussion
Randy Jackson – bass
George Duke – synthesizer, Mini-moog

STALEY CLARKE / AL DI MEOLA / JEAN-LUC PONTY - Rite of Strings (1995) WV (image+.cue), lossless


Any time the likes of Stanley Clarke, Al DiMeola and Jean-Luc Ponty are assembled, there is a good chance the results are going to be impressive. Clarke and DiMeola had played together in the legendary Return to Forever, producing some of the most intense playing in all of fusion; Jean-Luc Ponty had also made several excellent, very diverse recordings. The chops of these three musicians are pretty much unsurpassed in the industry, which in itself makes Rite of Strings worthy of a listen. The real treat, however, is in the song selections. Three of DiMeola's more recent compositions are here, including the uplifting "Chilean Pipe Song." On this song, Clarke and Ponty's dual-bow sound provides a nice backdrop to DiMeola's introduction before DiMeola and Ponty state the melody together. Ponty has always been one of the more interesting violinists, mostly because he experiments with the instrument's tonal possibilities. His plucking introduction to "Renassaince" and the strumming on "Change of Life" are evidence of this. Clarke's finest moment comes on his own beautiful "Topanga," on which his bow playing is enough to evoke tears. This is a classic recording that should not be missed; the integrity, musicianship, compositions, and improvisations are all first-rate. by Robert Taylor  
Tracklist:
1 Indigo 7:15
Written-By – Al Di Meola
2 Renassaince 4:32
Written-By – Jean-Luc Ponty
3 Song To John 6:00
Written-By – Chick Corea, S. Clarke
4 Chilean Pipe Song 6:12
Written-By – Al Di Meola
5 Topanga 5:50
Written-By – Stanley Clarke
6 Morocco 5:45
Written-By – Al Di Meola
7 Change Of Life 5:30
Written-By – Jean-Luc Ponty
8 La Cancion De Sofia 8:30
Written-By – Stanley Clarke
9 Memory Canyon 6:00
Written-By – Jean-Luc Ponty
Credits:
Band, Acoustic Bass – Stanley Clarke
Band, Acoustic Guitar [Acoustic Guitars] – Al Di Meola
Band, Violin [Acoustic] – Jean-Luc Ponty
Producer – Al Di Meola, Jean-Luc Ponty, Stanley Clarke

31.5.20

STANLEY CLARKE / BIRÉLI LAGRÈNE / JEAN-LUC PONTY - D-Stringz (2015) FLAC (tracks+.cue), lossless


The occasion for this trio to work together was a 2010 concert that celebrated violinist Jean-Luc Ponty's 50th anniversary as a recording artist. Both the violinist and Stanley Clarke had collaborated before (a previous electric trio set with Al Di Meola, The Rite of Strings was issued in 1995), but neither had collaborated with French jazz guitarist Biréli Lagrène prior to that evening. In playing for a mere 20 minutes, they created the impetus for D-Stringz -- though it took two years for them to clear their schedules and get into a Brussels studio. These ten tunes are an assortment of standards and originals. The album is an acoustic, straight-ahead date that employs flawless swinging bop and post-bop, as well as 21st century takes on gypsy and soul-jazz and funk. John Coltrane's "Blue Train" is offered in cut time. Ponty covers the horn lines while Lagrène plays choppy, meaty chords and Clarke redefines the bass' role in a walking 12-bar blues. Ponty's solo offers the right amount of flash and punch, touching on both gypsy and modal jazz traditions. Lagrène syncopates his butt off in the changes. The reading of Joe Zawinul's Cannonball Adderley vehicle, "Mercy Mercy Mercy," is a showcase for Lagrène's gorgeous chord voicings. Ponty's solo nearly sings, and further, a call-and-response exchange between Clarke and the guitarist -- before the latter's slippery solo -- is gritty and tight. In another Coltrane reference, the reading of Jimmy McHugh's and Harold Adamson's "Too Old to Go Steady" (that the saxophonist rendered so beaut-fully on Ballads in 1963) offers a lovely conversation between the guitarist and violinist, but it's Clarke's counterpoint that steals the show. Given the trio's collective love of Django Reinhardt, it makes sense they would cover his iconic "Nuages." Ponty moves it along the ledge by rendering it contemporary; he provides a simmering bossa lilt in the melody. The bassist's "Bit of Burd" is fleet, driving bebop; everyone is on fire, but Lagrène's arpeggios are on stun. The guitarist's "Strech" binds progressive jazz, modernism, post-bop, and gypsy swing. Ponty's "To and Fro," built on a four-note riff, allows the trio to really stretch out and get their funk on. In the latter, Clarke's bassline is fat, woody, and hard-grooving. The closer, "One Take," is built on a simple two-chord vamp. Loping violin and guitar lines twist, turn, and soar, creating a lithe, breezy, funky feel but Clarke whomps down hard, binding them to the tune's groove. The sound on D-Stringz is warm and bright, but so pristine, it lends an intimate living room feel to the proceedings. All the playing is relaxed, inquisitive and inventive. D-Stringz is the sound of musical invention and delight put on offer directly. It is a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. by Thom Jurek  
Tracklist:
1 Stretch 3:30
Composed By – Biréli Lagrène
2 To And Fro 6:15
Composed By – Jean-Luc Ponty
3 Too Young To Go Steady 7:30
Composed By – Jimmy McHugh
Lyrics By – Harold Adamson
4 Bit Of Burd 3:29
Composed By – Stanley Clarke
5 Nuages 5:16
Composed By – Django Reinhardt
6 Childhood Memories (Souvenirs D'Enfance) 5:39
Composed By – Jean-Luc Ponty
7 Blue Train 6:17
Composed By – John Coltrane
8 Paradigm Shift 6:14
Composed By – Stanley Clarke
9 Mercy, Mercy, Mercy 6:31
Composed By – Joe Zawinul
10 One Take 4:03
Credits:
Acoustic Guitar – Biréli Lagrène
Double Bass – Stanley Clarke
Percussion – Steve Shehan (tracks: 8)
Violin – Jean-Luc Ponty


ALLAN HOLDSWORTH - Velvet Darknses (1976-1990) RM / FLAC (tracks+.cue), lossless


This debut solo release by Allan Holdsworth has an "in the raw," coarsely presented, jam-session quality complete with warts and all, as well as real gems of jazz fusion shining through. A first hearing of this release in its vinyl version might provoke laughter at how really bad it sounds compared to Holdsworth's other releases as well as his playing with other groups. As it turns out, Holdsworth himself abhors this release (considering it "a real terrible disaster"), and has taken legal action and had it removed from production for several reasons. The original label used rehearsal tapes to compile it, deeming it unnecessary to finance real sessions. During the recording session, Holdsworth had to hurry through each song and apparently never obtained the masters to go over before release. In essence, the original release was nothing more than a taped rehearsal, packaged by CTI as an album without Holdsworth's permission. This recording has been bootlegged by label after label, none of the musicians involved ever saw any royalties, and no legal paperwork exists. (The recording's known labels and release/re-release dates include CTI Records [1976], King Records [1976], Epic Associated Records [CD, 1990], King Records [Japanese-only CD, 1994], and CTI Records [Japanese-only CD, 1997]. Velvet Darkness was also released in 1997 on an unknown label in Japan as a bootleg CD; an original copy of the vinyl LP album had been transferred to the CD.) This 1990 release with alternate takes (just more pieces dredged up from the jam-session practice tapes) is indeed an interesting snapshot of young stellar musicians doing their thing in a laid-back but energetic fusion-funk-rock groove. It is for all the above reasons that this is indeed a completist/collectors item nowadays. Included are the now very rare recordings of Holdsworth playing acoustic guitar and violin, which he does very well. The alternate take of "Gattox" is a special treat, featuring Holdsworth soloing with an intensity and emotive power that echoes all the best dynamics jazz fusion could offer in the '70s. Obtaining this release second-hand is probably the only and most proper way to find it now. by John W. Patterson  
Tracklist:
1 Good Clean Filth 5:23
2 Floppy Hat 2:46
3 Wish 4:21
4 Kinder 3:06
5 Velvet Darkness 4:43
6 Karzie Key 3:10
7 Last May 1:38
8 Gattox 4:54
- Bonus Tracks -
9 Good Clean Filth (Alternate Take) 5:38
10 Kinder (Alternate Take) 3:07
11 Velvet Darkness (Alternate Take) 4:44
12 Karzie Key (Alternate Take) 2:15
13 Gattox (Alternate Take) 6:47
Credits:
Bass – Alphonse Johnson
Drums – Narada Michael Walden
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Violin, Written-By – Allan Holdsworth
Engineer [Recording] – Rudy Van Gelder
Piano – Alan Pasqua
Producer – Creed Taylor

ALLAN HOLDSWORTH - Road Games (1983-2001) FLAC (tracks+.cue), lossless


Short but sweet: this 24-plus-minute re-release of an '80s-era solo effort originally appeared as a vinyl EP, and has never before been issued on CD. It is a unique mix of great vocals with a more rocking, bluesy, and jazzy quasi-mainstream song-themed balladic thrust. This release showcases Allan Holdsworth playing less "out there." Don't misunderstand -- the guitar is amazing: multi-voiced, fusion-fired, ethereally chorded, delightfully crystalline clear, note-flourished, and swooningly embellished. Add in the vocals of Jack Bruce for that Cream flashback or the I.O.U. band feel of Paul Williams' crooning, back to back with killer bass by Jeff Berlin and tastefully poised drums by Chad Wackerman, and you have fusion-rock bliss.Holdsworth addicts have waited a very long time for this to appear in the CD format. So go for it. It sounds great all over again. The original album cover graphics and notes are included. by John W. Patterson
Tracklist:
1 Three Sheets To The Wind 4:15
Written-By – Allan Holdsworth
2 Road Games 4:15
Written-By – Allan Holdsworth, Paul Williams
3 Water On The Brain Pt. II 2:44
Written-By – Allan Holdsworth
4 Tokyo Dream 4:03
Written-By – Allan Holdsworth
5 Was There? 4:07
Written-By – Allan Holdsworth, Paul Williams
6 Material Real 4:44
Written-By – Allan Holdsworth, Paul Williams
Credits:
Bass Guitar – Jeff Berlin
Drums – Chad Wackerman
Guest, Backing Vocals – Joe Turano, Paul Korda, Paul Williams 
Guest, Lead Vocals – Paul Williams (tracks: 2)
Guest, Vocals – Jack Bruce
Guitar – Allan Holdsworth

ALLAN HOLDSWORTH - Secrets (1989) FLAC (image+.cue), lossless


A true masterpiece, Secrets is the massive culmination of Allan Holdsworth's years-long legato technique and SynthAxe development. Conceptually inspired by but significantly different from the electric guitar, the SynthAxe is not a guitar-controlled synthesizer; it's a completely unique instrument of its own, making the guitarist's gripping performances all the more impressive. Holdsworth actually plays both instruments at a world-class level, setting an almost unreachable technical standard for aspiring rock, jazz, and fusion players. In addition to Secrets' technical accomplishments, Holdsworth contributes some of the most inspired songwriting of his career. The instrumental choruses are subtle and fluid, and the vocal lines on "Secrets" (performed by Rowanne Mark) and "Endomorph" (Craig Copeland) surpass earlier Holdsworth-penned efforts with their touching lyrics and melodies. Simply put, this 1989 Enigma release is a triumph, the final contribution to the artist's seminal '80s collection that includes Metal Fatigue and Atavachron. Fans of progressive music (no matter the genre) are recommended to search out the furtive Secrets, and unearth the sadly hidden knowledge of a musician's sublime transcendence of form, through passion and genius. by Vincent Jeffries 
 Tracklist:
1    City Nights    2:33
2    Secrets 4:21
Vocals – Rowanne Mark
3    54 Duncan Terrace (Dedicated To Pat Smythe) 4:33
Piano – Alan Pasqua
4    Joshua 5:54
Keyboards – Steve Hunt 
5    Spokes    3:29
6    Maid Marion 7:16
Keyboards – Steve Hunt 
7    Peril Premonition 4:43
Bass – Bob Wackerman
Drums, Keyboards – Chad Wackerman
Other [Hammer] – Jeffrey Ocheltree

Voice – Clair Holdsworth
8    Endomorph (Dedicated To My Parents) 4:19
Vocals – Craig Copeland
Credits:
Bass – Jimmy Johnson (tracks: 1 to 6)
Drums – Vinnie Colaiuta (tracks: 1 to 6)
Guitar, Mixed By – Allan Holdsworth
Lyrics By – Rowanne Mark (tracks: 2, 8)
Music By – Allan Holdsworth (tracks: 2, 3, 5, 8), Chad Wackerman (tracks: 7), Gary Husband (tracks: 1), Steve Hunt (tracks: 4, 6)
Producer – Allan Holdsworth

ALLAN HOLDSWORTH - Wardenclyffe Tower (1992) FLAC (tracks+.cue), lossless

This 1992 release features Holdsworth in conversation with usual compatriots Jimmy Johnson, Chad Wackerman, and Gary Husband. Keyboards are provided not only by Steve Hunt, but also by both Wackerman and Husband. Husband in particular demonstrates that his facility on the keyboards is equal to his skill on the drums. Despite the all-star cast of characters, there are certain peculiarities to Wardenclyffe Tower that prevent it from being numbered among Holdsworth's best work. One very obvious oddity is the strange and ill-advised ending to the opener, "5 to 10," which concludes with a toilet flushing and an annoying voice-over. Mistakes in judgment aside, there is something formless about this album, something that blurs the tracks together in a meaningless way. Holdsworth has always been more of a distinctive than a strong composer, and the batch of tunes that he contributes here is not very compelling. The title track, with its power-chord verse, and his collaboration with singer Naomi Star, "Against the Clock," are his strongest moments. The presence of Hunt's "Dodgy Boat" helps but it is not enough to elevate this album to the level of Holdsworth's past successes. This is not to say that there is not meaningful music on Wardenclyffe Tower, because there is. "Against the Clock," which features not only Star's voice but also the drums of Vinnie Colaiuta, is one such success. Holdsworth makes use of the SynthAxe guitar synthesizer on several tracks on Wardenclyffe Tower, the most effective use of which is here, where his solo emerges from empty space in a constantly accelerating fashion, like a boulder rolling down a hill (although Holdsworth's ascending line sets forth the impossible scenario of falling upwards). All in all, however, there is a lack of dynamic movement in the soloists and the compositions in general. Of value to Holdsworth completists, but not of much interest to casual fans. by Daniel Gioffre  
Tracklist:
1 5 To 10 5:36
Bass – Jimmy Johnson 
Drums – Chad Wackerman
Guitar, Synthaxe, Soloist [Guitar] – Allan Holdsworth
Soloist [Keyboards] – Steve Hunt
Voice [Jazz Fan] – oel (The Demon Barber) Schnebelt
Written-By – A. Holdsworth
2 Sphere Of Influence 5:58
Bass – Jimmy Johnson  
Drums – Gary Husband
Guitar, Soloist [Guitar] – Allan Holdsworth
Soloist [Keyboards] – Steve Hunt  
Written-By – A. Holdsworth 
3 Wardenclyffe Tower 8:44
Bass – Jimmy Johnson 
Drums – Chad Wackerman
Guitar, Synthaxe, Soloist [Synthaxe] – Allan Holdsworth
Soloist [Keyboards] – Gary Husband
Written-By – A. Holdsworth
4 Dodgy Boat 5:37
Bass, Soloist [Bass] – Jimmy Johnson 
Drums – Gary Husband
Guitar, Soloist [Guitar] – Allan Holdsworth
Keyboards, Soloist [Keyboards] – Steve Hunt  
Written-By – S. Hunt 
5 Zarabeth 6:31
Bass – Jimmy Johnson 
Drums – Chad Wackerman
Guitar, Soloist [Guitar] – Allan Holdsworth
Keyboards, Soloist [Keyboards] – Steve Hunt 
Written-By – A. Holdsworth 
6 Against The Clock 4:58
Bass – Jimmy Johnson 
Drums, Soloist [Drums] – Vinnie Colaiuta
Synthaxe, Soloist [Synthaxe] – Allan Holdsworth
Vocals – Naomi Star
Written-By – A. Holdsworth 
7 Questions 4:07
Bass – Jimmy Johnson  
Drums, Keyboards – Chad Wackerman
Guitar, Soloist [Guitar] – Allan Holdsworth
Written-By – C. Wackerman 
8 Oneiric Moor 1:43
Guitar – Allan Holdsworth
Written-By – A. Holdsworth 
- Bonus Tracks - 
9 Tokyo Dream 5:05
Bass – Jimmy Johnson  
Drums – Chad Wackerman
Guitar, Synthaxe – Allan Holdsworth
Keyboards – Gordon Beck
Written-By – A. Holdsworth 
10 The Unmerry Go Round Part 4 3:01
Bass – Jimmy Johnson 
Drums – Chad Wackerman
Guitar – Allan Holdsworth
Soloist [Piano] – Gordon Beck
Written-By – A. Holdsworth 
11 The Unmerry Go Round Part 5 1:58
Bass – Jimmy Johnson 
Drums – Chad Wackerman
Guitar, Guitar [Baritone] – Allan Holdsworth
Written-By – A. Holdsworth 

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JEAN-LUC PONTY - Upon the Wings of Music (1975) APE (image+.cue), lossless

Jean-Luc Ponty, who at the time was still with the second version of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, is heard playing his own brand of fusion on...