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

MYSTICAL ADVENTURES

Jean-Luc Ponty

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.19 | 133 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
5 stars This is a tremendous hidden gem, certainly among the very best from the legendary French violinist whose Enigmatic Ocean and Cosmic Messenger albums remain among my dearest possessions. This was a period where Jean-Luc was particularly creative in prog terms and left a series of extremely original and explorative prog-fusion for fans of all progressive ilk. Yes, it's slick and ethereal but it has a rawness that refuses to be overproduced, in favor of soloing style that fits the immense talents displayed. I admit being an avowed Ralphe Armstrong salivating fan, having seen him live and being blown totally and utterly away! Randy Jackson (yeah the Idol judge, eek!) was a fantastic bassist with a variety of big time session work that sold zillions but here, he smokes BIG TIME. Add drummer Rayford Griffin (who hints at Billy Cobham at times) and you have a miraculous rhythm section, a very necessary foundation that needs to cook in this technical genre known as jazz-rock. The recording begins with a gorgeous epic suite subdivided in 5 parts, a supple shortie followed by a more awake one, just as brief but with a little more meat . When the heavenly Part 3 breezes in, the listener is crucified instantly by the shimmering brilliance of the music expressed, a blossoming revelation and arguably, one of the finest 7 minutes and 30 seconds in prog history, a bedeviling bass that weaves, burrows and slides with ruthless abandon, leashing the others along, the Ponty violin screaming , Chris Rhyne ushering in the fizzing synths and Griffin thumping seriously .Electric guitarist Jamie Glaser has a very linear technique that prefers the lower registers but his solo is deadly. The atmosphere is blatantly confident and really lets the musicians to express themselves in playful freedom. What a track, dearest me! There is a brief violin flutter for Part 4 and then, another swift curled shot into the old onion bag, the luxuriant Part 5. A sadistic piece of ambient jubilation that has the listener stunned, jaw agape and drool trickling fluidly to the floor. The unique beauty of Ponty's violin is clearly defined and demonstrates a terrific sense of musicality and I daresay, restraint! The guest percussion from session veteran Paulinho Da Costa permeates the next rack, the rather joyous and upbeat "Rhythms of Hope" but you must really focus your attention to the lethal Randy Jackson bass work here (the solo is to die for, melodious and fast !), while the violin slithers along elusively , almost hypnotic and cocooning .The next track is the Stevie Wonder composed and a substantial world-wide hit, a reworked "As" where the vocoder replaces the incredible blind man's voice and does the piece justice knowing it could have been swiftly expedited as muzak! It basically rocks and then it rolls along , a ray of sunshine which I am sure the author approves, as it travels within the jazz highway to the stars! Ponty on violin does what Carlos Santana succeded so brilliantly on his own albums, spraying huge leads that dazzle the mind. The 2 part "Final Truth" has the rowers paddling hard to some internal beat, truly way jazzier than ever, gliding over the pristine aquatic arrangement , Rhyne's piano is exuberant and stylish (he played in Santana's band, I believe!), Rayford shuffling madly and yes, Jackson is still rumbling about , in a zone! The wee second part is mesmerizing. "Jig" puts this puppy to bed with an Irish inspired (obviously. you ninny!) flourish that takes traditional sounds, electrifies them and gives it a decidedly American feel: country violin solo, a slippy synth still in a down home style and a feel good ending! This is a masterpiece recording and a true winner. I am glad to have Mystical Adventures as an escort CD to my tired vinyl LP. 5 paces of expectancy
tszirmay | 5/5 |

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