Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Anderson Ponty Band Project

Jon, with a wonderful band backing him, played the Wheeler Opera House, Aspen, Colorado on 20th September 2014. The set list was as follows.  

Hand Written Set List Provided By Jamie Dunlap to Two attendees

Part One 

Intro leads into One Is Everything - KS demo entitled" One", on which JA has introduced a vocal arrangement to a rearranged version of JLP's "Rhythms of Hope". Jamie Glaser confirmed on the 6th January he had been working on this piece and it is now named "One In The Rhythms of Hope". 
A for Aria - a new piece by JA which is being worked on for the CD release and appears on Jamie Glaser's (JG) snippet video and the official montage from the Band. A snippet is now available to pledgers. Credited to Anderson/Tomat (Enrico Tomat is a television producer and writes generic music soundscapes, he was given a thank you credit on JA's Survival as a "musical friend" )
Yours Is No Disgrace - (described as ballad like by one attendee)
Listening - KS demo on which JA vocalised the melody of JLP's "Stay With Me" from "Taste of Passion" which is included in the official montage and which Jamie Glaser has referred to as working on. Confirmed for inclusion on the CD.
Time and A Word - (Reggae Version).
Jig - JLP (JA plays harp).
Infinity - KS demo which references a JA vocalised melody from JLP's Mirage (The keyboard feature toward the end). Now available as an official audio sample for the CD release on the new APB Facebook site. Confirmed for inclusion on CD.
Soul Internal - a Boom Crash song with JA, which appeared on U Tube and Sound cloud sometime ago and is included toward the end of the Infinity kickstarter demo and JG's video snippet for the CD and the official montage. Confirmed for inclusion on CD. Although originally credited to Boom Crash with Azigza featuring Jon Anderson, now credited to Anderson/Ponty.
I See You - A KS demo prepared by Jamie Dunlap (Jon has confirmed this was written by Damian Anderson his son and Damian's Cousin Sean), a new song unrelated to the Yes cover which Jamie Glaser has begun working on and will have an entirely new arrangement with other band members re recording their parts now renamed "I See You -Messenger".
Owner of A Lonely Heart - Included on the video snippet for the CD.Confirmed for inclusion on the CD.In the UK the DVD performance is available (20/09/2015) on U Tube as part of the official marketing campaign in Europe.

Part 2

Ever Country - JLP has a very similar title "New Country" that has a feel of a jig. (it is now clear that the acoustic set began with "New Country" and "Never Ever" a re named "Under Heavens Door"). 
Wondrous Stories - Is now available to backers as a snippet.
Long Distance Runaround. 
Sky Vista (Renaissance) - JLP's "Renaissance". Confirmed for inclusion on the CD and renamed "Renaissance of The Sun".
Enigmatic - JLP's Enigmatic Ocean.
New New World - JA written by Jamie Dunlap. JG & JA are currently working on this piece. 
And You and I - (The Anderson Wakeman version). JG has confirmed he has been working on this piece.
Starship Trooper - (Described as stripped down by one attendee)
Bass - a solo introduces Roundabout. JG is currently working on guitars and vocals. Confirmed for inclusion on the CD. 
Time and A Word - The final piece played at the concert was Remembering Molecules but may have included lyrics scatted from Time and A Word.   

One piece included a drum solo which received favourable comments from a number of attendees.

The commentary for each piece is based on my analysis of the Kick-starter campaign material, Jean Luc's extensive repertoire and updates from the Jamie Glaser APB Facebook site.

Summary of songs/pieces played at Aspen.

8 Yes, many of which were described as JLP band arrangements of JA's solo versions.

1 JA. 
Jean Luc Ponty, 3 of which were incentive demos on Kick-starter, where JA has taken the melody line from a JLP piece and added a lyrical narrative.
1 Kick-starter demo, written specifically for the project "I See You".
1 New piece entitled "Aria". 
1 Piece by Boom Crash "Soul Internal".

New Songs

One member of Yes Fans who attended has indicated that pieces described as new songs included pre existing lyrics. The musical idea for the chant from Don't Kill The Whale was included with in "I See You" and another fan described their being a different version of "Under Heavens Door" played.   

Other pieces not played in concert

There are two pieces which have appeared within the Kick-Starter marketing that are worthy of mention.

True Messenger - Cosmic 

This demo is arguably the strongest instrumental offering which includes a discrete performance of chants from JA. This follows the pattern of other  pieces in that its origins lie in a similarly named JLP piece the title track from Cosmic Messenger. JG confirmed 18/01/15 that he is not currently working on this piece. The repeating melodic motif is played much faster as a light intro to I See You - Messenger and then related vocally in a slowed down form in the final refrain. 

Better Late Than Never 

A very late demo which relates to Jon's feelings about working with JLP. I suspect this is a diary piece rather than a serious part of the collaboration.

Note Updated September with a commentary on each individual piece. Please see my most recent blog entry for my review of the DVD.

CD or DVD Tracks Confirmed (9)

Intro. 1.17 An overture from the band minus JLP and JA which quotes from amongst other pieces JLP's Infinite Pursuit. 
A for Aria. 3.22 A reflective reaching out performance by Jon of a new stately slow piece.
Infinity Mirage. 3.48 Very much the JLP tune with a vocal narrative taking the keyboard melody.
Owner of A Lonely Heart. 5.04 A more funky warmer version of the original.
Renaissance of The Sun. 6.36 Once again very much the JLP original with a vocal narrative from Jon on which he also plays Harp.
Roundabout. 5.27 An energised warm version where the drums really swing. 
Soul Eternal. 4.58 A mid tempo grove with nice block vocal support. Having heard earlier versions this shows what the Atlantic Years Band brings to the table.
Listening With Me. 5.39 Very close to the original instrumentally.
And You And I. 3.00  The opening segment is close to the original.
Wondrous Stories. 4.01 A jazzy smokey accompaniment underpinning Jon's original interpretation.    

Tracks Confirmed As Work In Progress (3)

Egocentric Molecules (Though not on the set list under this title but was confirmed by Jamie Glaser as played as  the final song). The ascending exciting section from this piece does not appear in the samples it may have been incorporated into a new ending for Roundabout or discarded. Note This piece is played over the closing credits to the DVD and is the "bonus track" on the Japanese only release and renamed Re-Remembering Molecules and is credited to Anderson/Ponty.
I See You - Messenger.3.50 A sophisticated studio version of the KS demo with quotes from Cosmic Messenger, Don't Kill The Whale and Your move.  
New New World. 3.46 It almost sounds like a speeded up remix of the version on Survival with more up front guitar riffing and additional vocal sections, very much a studio track feel to it
One in the Rhythms of Hope. 4.34 Some nice vocal and instrumental additions to the original musical ideas.

Tracks confirmed following release of download (1)

Time and Word 5.30 an empathetic reggae arrangement from the instrumentalists.

Overall a warm engaging set of performances with great playing particularly from Jean Luc. Jon's voice is captured better than on any recordings of recent years and he is singing with a cleaner clearer vocal sound than Living Tree, Survival and Open.  

Live Snippets Shown of the Video 

Infinity (Mirage)
Soul Eternal.

Update 23rd July 2015

A list of tracks has now been released to Investors which will be available in different combinations depending on whether vinyl/CD or DVD. The total number 13 corresponds with previously released remarks. 

So five Yes pieces and four vocalised Jean Luc Ponty make up the bulk of the programme together with a couple of new pieces and a couple of J.A. solo tracks.  

Update 13th August 2015 

Amazon UK are now offering 'Better Late Than Never" due on 25th September. Other sites have a commentary which refer to an accompanying one hour 10 track DVD. The DVD performance is shorter than the CD performance and several pieces are CD only. "Intro" is not defined as a track in the marketing kit and the CD contains three pieces which are CD only. The DVD does not include 'I See You Messenger', 'New New World' or slightly surprising "And You and I". 

Following on from the Liaison's release commentary and considering, Billy James press kit and Jamie Glaser's comment that "he isn't on the DVD" it would appear the carefully constructed CD is the premium "finished" offer and the "bonus DVD" is an interesting artefact which provides a step along the way to the final product which is the CD. The one hour DVD running time includes artists interviews so I expect it to have a "rockumentary" feel to it rather than be a highly sophisticated thorough going presentation of the "Aspen Concert". Note The DVD is offered as a bonus (free in Europe) and whilst the 10 performances are anchored in the Aspen performance they like the CD benefit from the substantial post concert work so as the director of the video suggest one should not look for synchronisation between the Audio and Visual track and instead just seek an impression from the DVD and on that basis the DVD works well.        

At £13.99p for the CD and DVD it looks like very good value for money. Note Amazon have reduced the price post release to £9.99p and I have received a refund of £4.00p as part of their guaranteed best price arrangements.  

Update 8th September 2015

With the welcome release to the Investors of the digital download a number of recurring themes are emerging around the internet. 

I am not familiar with Jean Luc's work is it still available ? 

Much of it is on U Tube but last year in the wake of the concert I purchased all of the JLP based material performed at Aspen, or included in demos, on I Tunes and it makes for a great selection in anticipation of the CD release.

My I Pod listing which I played around with is sequenced as follows :-

Rhythms of Hope - CD
Stay With Me - CD
Jig - Concert
Mirage - CD
New Country - Concert 
Cosmic Messenger - Demo
Renaissance - CD
Infinite Pursuit - CD (Theme included in Intro)
Enigmatic Oceans Part 1, 2, 3 and 4 - Concert
Egocentric Molecules. CD (Japanese Bonus Track)

As Jean Luc said there is great synergy between himself and JA several of these uplifting highly disciplined complex pieces echo the feel of much from Fragile. Other pieces broaden the palette, JIG moves into a Calypso feel and New Country into an Irish Jig but at a very sophisticated and evolved level.   

Update 14th September

In one exchange Jamie Glaser indicated the re imaginings were so unique musically that the copy right of the new versions went beyond the original copy right. Details of the credits are beginning to emerge and to date the Yes pieces  quote the original writing combinations and Jon receives a credit for his lyric writing on Jean Luc's pieces. Because 11 of the 13 pieces are "covers" whilst I am looking to engage with the music as a unified and complete project inevitably one will be looking for a payoff from the new verses the original.        

Update 23rd September

Sean McKee who produced the DVD has confirmed that the sound track includes Jamie Glaser's performance but the concert footage Jamie Dunlap. He has confirmed there are work arounds  for the disconnect but detailed analysis by enthusiastic fans would still reveal some in consistencies and lack of co-ordination between the visual and the audio. In addition as he did not film the concert he took the raw material and produced it and in particular he had to work around some non functioning back projection on certain pieces. 

Quite separately Sound Cloud includes a full length version of the single "I See You - Messenger" which whilst it sounds like a very studio bound piece, closely follows Jamie Dunlap's string arrangements from the original demo.     

Update 25th September CD/DVD received !

Full review to follow now at the head of my blog. However given Jean Luc's remarks in the late summer of 2014 to the Herald De Paris that the rehearsing and concert at Aspen was to generate a calling card for a world tour I watched the DVD this afternoon. For me they have achieved what they set out to with the DVD, it is indeed the perfect encouragement to buy tickets to an Anderson/Ponty concert. The highlights for me were "Soul Eternal" a piece that has been on Sound Cloud in its original form for many months, which the band have transformed into a major concert piece and "Renaissance of the Sun" quite beautiful with wonderful piano playing from Wally Minko.   

Update 16th October 

Jamie Glaser is providing a stream of information from rehearsals and some super pictures. He has not been provided with the go ahead to release the set list, probably because it is a moving target, however all of the CD will be played and they have been rehearsing "Jig" and "Yours Is No Disgrace" so they could follow the format of the Aspen concert begin with two blocks of three pieces One/Aria/Disgrace then Listening/Word and Jig. The twofer of Mirage/Eternal and finish with Messenger/Owner. Then an intermission the acoustic set (Wondrous/Distance/Renaissance) and then rousing finish of NNW/Roundabout/Molecules. Given the reflective mid tempo feel and ability to stretch out on Independence that may make it into the the first set and there is the never identified "Ever Country" from Aspen to consider which I suspect opened up the acoustic set and Enigmatic and Trooper. We will soon find out !   

Update 23rd October First Report of the Set List

01 Intro
02 One In the Rhythms of Hope
03 A For Aria
04 Owner of a Lonely Heart
05 Listening With Me
06 Time and A Word
07 Infinity
08 Soul Eternal
09 Jig
10 I See You Messenger  
11 New New World

Set 2:
12 New Country 
13 Under Heaven’s Door entitled Never Ever
14 Wondrous Stories
15 Long Distance Runaround
16 Renaissance of the Sun
17 State of Independence
18 Enigmatic Ocean Part 1 and 2 including drum solo 
19 And You and I
20 Violin/Keyboard Duet (Eulogy To Oscar Romero)
21 Bass solo
22 Roundabout
23 Remembering Molecules which includes lyrical quotes from Time and A Word and Yours Is No Disgrace.
24 Soon

They have retained the flow in the first set of the DVD. Interesting that "Under Heavens Door", uncredited at Aspen, was played in the acoustic set. "State of Independence" is nicely moved in after Renaissance as they transition from an acoustic set and they have wisely kept the barn storming Remembering as an Encore.    

The early concerts show the band is on the move with embellishments on the Aspen material. Long Distance Runaround has a wonderful groove from the rhythm section, it starts in the same key as the 1975 acoustic version with the band riffing the main melody before Jon enters. And You and I goes into a new section where Wally introduces the Bruford/Squire written crescendo which they play out with, it took the audience by surprise as they gave the song applause after Jon's vocal section. New New World begins with an opening salvo from Rayford on the gong and is paced better than the CD recording. We now know for certain Jon's son and his cousin wrote I See You Messenger which explains the atypical verse structure after the various Yes song quotes. Under Heavens Door has some nice banjo picking and a simple rhythmic shuffle from Rayford which gives it more personality. All in all this is a band with a wide stylistic  bandwidth who can playing anything with authority and are growing the music as the touring gets going. The high light for me is a stunning performance of Renaissance.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Steve Howe - Artrix Bromsgrove

We Love When We Hear - Steve Howe.

From the opening "Pyramidology" to  "Clap" this was a vintage night out with Mr Howe.

It was a tremendous set :-

Family pieces, homages to his expanding family.

Nods to his influences the Blues, Country, Jimmy Bryant, Bream and Vivaldi.

and his wealth of feature progressive acoustic pieces.

It is the latter I would like to dwell on. We often talk about progressive music and debate what precisely it is, for me Steve has mined the fundamental nature of what it is - juxtaposing different musical ideas in a genuinely surprising way. Whether it is the the beautiful melody of a piece like "Sketches in the Sun" or "Masquerade" the rhythmic playfulness of "Corkscrew" or the pocket micro symphonies of Solitaire and Australia he develops an idea draws you in and then adds a flurry an inversion or a rhythmic interlude before returning to flirt with the original idea, teasing you. Each time your return to the theme your attachment to it grows whether its the wonderful chord progression on "Intersection Blues" or the main melody of "J's Theme".

As with the Trio this is relaxed Steve anecdotes about the Orlando audience partying in the front row or joking about the band coming up with  the set list for the European Tour next year. He mentioned Jon with warmth and then played the Cadenza and Song from "The Ancient". A little later the great lost live piece "To Be Over" exquisite.

Pam as ever on the merch and then into the hall a great audience, quiet whilst he played, and warming to Steve as the evening progressed. Once again Steve highlighted where he is now, a proud father and grandparent, and looking round the audience of appreciative middle aged men and woman that felt entirely right, not cheesy but authentic down to earth pride.

The things he didn't say were Yes is in his DNA and the idea that he is anything other than entirely wedded to the band is well, ridiculous, its echoed in everything he does .

The Stalls were nicely full and the venue is easy to find though sat nav took me to the artists car park so I was able to thank Steve personally before heading off into the night.

This member of the Yes family was well content and many there were delighted to see another key member of that family out gigging - Malcolm - wonderful to see you.