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Jean-Luc Ponty - Mystical Adventures CD (album) cover

MYSTICAL ADVENTURES

Jean-Luc Ponty

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.30 | 120 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

progvortex
5 stars This is not jazz rock/fusion. It has elements of those genres, but to limit it to those two styles oversimplifies this incredibly unique and complex masterpiece. At times, it draws from funk at other times it draws from symphonic rock. But, in the end, this album subscribes to no specific genre; it is just amazing music. The moods and textures presented on this album rewards hundreds of listens. This album always holds a fresh and exciting adventure.

The album begins with the Part 1 of the title track, instantly unleashing the spirit of the album to come. Ponty layers violin, electric piano and synthesizer in an almost minimalistic approach, conveyed by Rayford Griffin's tight drum groove. As the album progresses into Parts 2-4, the group offers many distinct timbres. Every listen will expose a new layer of the groove for you. Every part is essential to the group's signature tightness. The band combines the perfect blend between spontaneous improvisation and concise orchestration. At some moments the group showcases the skill of classical musicians, staying well-grounded. At other moments Ponty's violin solos swirl into controlled pandemonium while bassist Randy Jackson and drummer Rayford Griffin enhance Ponty's solo with complimentary rhythms.

Part 5, the last section of Side A, is an especially powerful moment in the album. The piece's strong 1 and 3 feel, overlapped by an emphasis from the Chris Rhyne's Prophet-5 on 2 and 4 is pleasantly disorienting. Randy Jackson keeps the piece grounded without interfering the clear forward momentum of the group as Side A head towards the finish line.

Side B begins with a slight change of pace. Gone is the ominous tone of Side A, replaced with an infectious groove-fest. Nonetheless, the feeling of mysticism remains just as strong as ever. On Rhythm of Hope, Randy Jackson is clearly the star of the show. His solo is one of the best I've ever heard and I consider it the pinnacle of this album.

The inclusion of Stevie Wonder's As certainly made me skeptical upon first glance. However, with one listen I can hear that Ponty arranged the piece with respect to the original version while still adding his distinct approach to music. The replacement of vocals with a vocorder is one of these distinct approaches and certainly is a powerful facet of this track.

Final Truth seals the mystic ideas presented on the title track (that is NOT to say the previous two tracks are only filler tracks). Griffin and Jackson lay down their tightest and most intricate groove yet. Rhyne's piano solo in Part 1 is truly incredible and the rest of the band compliments his intensity. Ponty's solo is none less magical and the entire group presents the same sort of complex but controlled intensity. Once again, several rhythmic layers are introduced on Part 2. I enjoy picking out just one piece of the puzzle and then standing back and seeing how it fits into the overall groove. Approaching the piece in this way rewards hundreds of listens. The album ends with Jig, which upholds a style firmly rooted in both jazz and symphonic prog but remains starkly original.

In short, this album is a true masterpiece and showcases Jean Luc Ponty's distinct but versatile style. The album's title and cover live up to their grandeur; this work of art truly is a Mystical Adventure.

progvortex | 5/5 |

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