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


Jean-Luc Ponty


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.19 | 170 ratings

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Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars It's amazing to see how your perspective changes when you are involved in some project, since last year I asked repeatedly for the inclusion of Jean-Luc Ponty in the Archives mostly because of his work with Mahavishnu Orchestra and the first 4 albums posterior to this experience with Mr. McLaughlin and Co.

But after working on his bio and discography for Prog Archives, started giving a second chance to most of his later releases.

Mystical Adventures is one of his first albums I bought but hardly played it more than five or six times in 15 years, yesterday I had to make short business travel of about 4 hours driving, so charged this release in the CD cartridge and great surprise, it is amazing, this is the only album I played since then, has become almost an obsession.

Jean-Luc Ponty's career is very interesting, his first four releases after he left Mahavishnu were really excellent, but the next two (A taste for Passion and Civilized Evil) were not in the same level, so for any reasonable Prog' fan that knows a bit of history (most bands reach their peak and after that everything is downhill) it was pretty obvious that his career was declining.

But Mystical Adventures is a very pleasant surprise, almost a re-birth, if any person had doubts about his music being Prog' and believed he was a Jazz player, this album surely should make him change his mind, even more is not just a Fusion album (What is enough to be considered Progressive), but with a very clear Symphonic edge, strong keyboards almost as important as his classic violin, amazing changes, one epic suite and a multi part long song. What more can a Proghead ask?

The lineup couldn't be better; he works again with two keyboardists himself and the very efficient Chris Rhyme who does an excellent job. For the second time he works with Randy "The Emperor" Jackson instead of Ralphie Armstrong, and to be honest the guy is an amazing bass player (Will never understand how after working with giants as Ponty, Cobham and Aretha Franklin he ended being a session musician for N'Sync, Madonna, Destiny's Child and even worst as an American Idol judge).

Paulinho Da Costa (Ex Miles Davis and Dizzie Gillespie) jazzy percussion is also impeccable and a great support for Ponty's new drummer, the young Rayford Griffin, who's partnership with Jean-Luc lasted for six tears, later played with monsters as Stanley Clarke before having an accident that left him with a very serious spine injury that made him evaluate his life and start a career as soloist.

Jamie Glaser doesn't have the versatility of Daryl Stuermer with the guitar but he's very strong with Jazz style, after a couple of years after Mystical Adventures he left Jean-Luc Ponty because as he said, his music was getting too Rock oriented.

The album starts with Mystical Adventures Suite, a fantastic 20 minutes with five movements epic, I used to think Aurora was his closest experience to Symphonic Prog', but I was wrong, the whole structure, sound, changes and movements have an evident influence of his Classical violin training and his work with John McLaughlin. Ponty reaches the perfect balance between Jazz and Symphonic.

I don't pretend to describe the five movements (or parts) of this epic because it's a whole and complete work that must be listened as an entire song, but part III is simply incredible, it's the longest of the five, and clearly the central piece of the epic.

Starts absolutely jazzy with a violin solo, but the rest of the band make their entrance one by one, Jamie Glaser's hard rock guitar semi-solo efficiently supported by Ponty on the organ is simply breathtaking, even Rayford Griffin, Paulinho Da Costa and Randy Jackson (all mainly jazz musicians) seem to get absolutely involved in the Symphonic atmosphere, until Ponty starts again with violin leaving clear that he's mainly a Fusion musician, a perfect lesson of how a real songwriter with an efficient band can jump from one genre to another as easy as we change clothes. Amazing part of an amazing epic.

"Rhythms of Hope" is a totally different track where Paulinho Da Costa proves what a complete musician he is with any percussion instrument. This song is a typical Ponty track, 100% progressive Fusion with incredible work of the rhythm section, flows gently from start to end.

"As" is a very unusual song, sounds almost as a Paganini Capriccio with Jazz interruptions and vocoder (One of the few times Jean-Luc Ponty uses human voice), the mixture works perfectly and again flows gently all along despite the dramatic changes.

The second multi part track is "Final Truth", more in the usual sound of Ponty and quite similar to his work in Aurora, the Piano sections in Part I are simply delightful.

Part II is more mysterious and atmospheric, a new chance for Jean-Luc to have fun with his violin with the confidence that the rest of the band especially Chris Rhyme will support him always. Too short in my opinion but it's better to leave the audience wishing for more than bored because of unnecessary length.

"Jig" closes the album and as any Fusion musician he wants to end it with the style he feels more comfortable, Jazz but again with a subtle Symphonic touch provided by Chris Rhyme playing short sections in a way that reminds of Wakeman.

I know the few people who read it may find this review contradictory with the one I made about Aurora, but only a stubborn ignorant wouldn't accept his mistake, this album is at least in the same level of his first four Prog' masterpieces (Before he was in Mahavishnu was mainly a Jazz musician) and closer than ever to Symphonic Progressive, so I will run to modify my Aurora review and rate this album with 5 very solid stars.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 5/5 |


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