First Published: 25 Sept 2015 – on Classic Rock Radio (UK)
Uncle G’s FUN Music Reviews
Spotlight: Jon Anderson and Jean Luc Ponty
Anderson Ponty Band – Better Late Than Never (2015)
By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
I press the play button, and the CD begins. Track one, simply called ‘Intro’, is an overture incorporating music from the careers of the two men that this band centers around. First, there is founding member of the ever popular progressive rock band Yes, singer Jon Anderson. And next, one of jazz fusion’s pioneers, violinist Jean Luc Ponty. Finally, (better late than never), they musically unite, something the two have previously talked about and finally accomplished. The journey started over the internet with the duo sending MP3’s / demos back and forth to each other, each excited about what the other was doing. Jon singing, adding lyrics to some of Jean Luc’s best known instrumental songs. And not wanting to sound like a Yes tribute band, Jean Luc with other talented musicians re-working classic Yes tunes that are known worldwide. In this case, classic numbers that are given a new spin. And for those who might be disappointed now because they are thinking there is no new music, let me put your mind at rest. Oui, their is. So, a little something for everyone.
Jon Anderson, throughout his over half a century’s time of being in professional music, has worked previously and got to know some of the best professional musicians on the planet. The pairing of himself and Jean Luc, in my opinion, pure genius. The two seem to naturally complement each other. So much so, that Jon’s singing in my opinion, now compares in my mind, to his work in the 1990’s by ease. A very productive decade for Mr. Anderson, with Yes, and on his own solo material. I believe his voice has consistently recovered since his health scare, some years back. Truth is, at one point, as horrible as it sounds, we almost lost him. Good for Jon, his family and the rest of the world, that he recovered to where his singing now sounds as strong as it was decades ago. Not only that, but his creativity is as sharp as ever. A multi-instrumentalist, and lyricist who with his new band, breathes new life into not only some of his best selling hits while with Yes, but some of the best songs out of Jean Luc Ponty’s catalog as well.
And the REST of the APB
Names I might not recognize because I’m more into rock music, more than I am the jazz scene. Baron Browne (bass), Jamie Glaser (guitar), Rayford Griffin who at one point played with Michael Jackson (drums), and a keyboardist I’m going to have to find out more about soon. The man’s playing here, above and beyond, impressed me very much; Wally Minko. And a word of ‘thanks’ to whoever else was involved in helping make the final product (CD / DVD) that ended up being distributed from this Internet funded (KickStarter) project. The final creation appearing a team effort, and a very good one at that.
All Yes masterpieces played sound terrific. A swell job presenting them in interesting ways other than being carbon copies of the studio versions played everyday on radio stations all over the globe, including ours. A good example I could cite would be the title song to Yes’ second album entitled, ‘Time And A Word’. A favorite YesSong of Uncle G’s. The Anderson Ponty Band updated version now has a very cool kind of reggae groove to it. It’s got killer guitar work on it as well. Demonstrates how solid the song was to begin with, so to totally change up the format, and it still holds up strong. Maybe ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic should try a polka version? ‘Time And A Word’ is a popular song with the fans also. And have no fear, because Yes fan favorites ‘Roundabout’, and ‘Owner Of A Lonely Heart’, are also here.
Jean Luc Ponty’s Music
I recognize some songs. It isn’t that I’m totally unaware with whom Jean Luc Ponty is. You can find him in my home music collection working with Frank Zappa, and the jazz fusion groups Return To Forever, and Mahavishnu Orchestra. Simply put, Jean Luc’s playing blows me away. I’ve always loved the sound of the violin. Over the course of over five decades, Jean Juc is credited with giving the instrument a more modern sound. And that he does! After the song I just talked about, Time And A Word, on the CD, is a track called, Infinite ‘Mirage’. The band on this track, can’t be any tighter. Jon’s addition to Jean Luc’s song makes it even all the better. For sure, one of my favorite tracks.
“Uncle G” RATES…Anderson Ponty Band – Better Late Than Never (2015)
Using the one to five star rating system, whereas one star means Walmart bargain bin filler, to five stars meaning it’s worth spending one’s own hard earned money on, Uncle G rates the Anderson Ponty Band – Better Late Than Never … 5 stars! I’m really happy with the CD. Comes with a DVD that I watched once, and really is worth watching again. I’ll close by saying how I feel a real studio album of original music would be very welcomed by this band. Nothing too carried away. A strong 40 to 45 minutes worth of new tunes. I can only imagine how wonderous that would be. That I found this project to be a wonderful way of introducing themselves as a group. The older music presented a foundation on which to build a new structure. Enough new material added to make it feel like a new experience. One that you’ll want to repeat again and again. Oh, and after viewing the DVD, I can say APB is definitely worth seeing in concert as well. One special evening in my hopefully not so far away future, I will.
For more information, please check out the official Anderson Ponty Band Facebook Page (and of course their other official social media outlets)
Promotion: Glass Onyon PR (William James) – www.glassonyonpr.com