Wednesday, September 16, 2015

ANDERSON PONTY BAND: "Better Late Than Never"

Rating: Live
Label: earMUSIC/Edel 2015
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Better Late Than Never? The duo re-visit the original music created by vocalist Jon Anderson (YES) and Jean Luc Ponty (violin) over the years with new arrangements, virtuosic performances and new energy. Ponty was originally approached by Anderson with the idea of working together as far back as the 1980's. Now 30 years later the dream has finally come true. It's one of those 'not-sure-what-to-think-really' releases as it's the studio album taken from a live performance, and enhanced with innovative production. Yeah. Whatever. It's still sort of live though.

Some of them stripped down to bare bones (not really though, there's still plenty of keys and meat on them) others completely rearranged, while "Owner Of a Lonely Heart", sounds almost the same as in the eighties only with violin. Some of Ponty's compositions, with Jon's lyrical vocals and melodies are creating a special and unique thing such as "Infinite Mirage" a new song incorporating Jean Luc's classic tune "Mirage". It's sometimes alarmingly posh and occasionally a little too Jethro Tull-ish. However, I really do enjoy the previous mentioned track and Jon seems content to forget the original arrangements and play with his past and the music. Good for him. There's too many traditionalists out there.

Returning fans as well as the casual listener should enjoy Better Late Than Never almost in its entirety, as it's solid performances, and the deluxe version include the live DVD and interview sequences (not on my review copy). The backup band includes guitarist Jamie Glaser (Ponty, Chick Corea, Bryan Adams), keyboardist Wally Minko (Pink, Toni Braxton, Ponty, Barry Manilow), bassist Baron Browne (Steve Smith, Billy Cobham, Ponty), and drummer Rayford Griffin (Stanley Clarke Band, George Duke, Michael Jackson, Ponty).
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