Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Jean-Luc Ponty - 1976 "Imaginary Voyage"

Imaginary Voyage is a studio album by French Jazz-Fusion artist Jean-Luc Ponty. It was released in 1976 on Atlantic Records.

As of 1976, Jean-Luc Ponty's variations on the Mahavishnu Orchestra theme were still fresh and imaginative, cast in a distinctively different, more lyrical, more controlled framework. For Imaginary Voyage, Ponty's instrumental lineup is identical to that of Mahavishnu -- electric violin, guitar, keyboards, bass, drums -- but he turns the emphasis on its head, with all commands coming directly from the violin (his) and less competitive crossplay emanating from his colleagues. For starters, "New Country" is a lively jazz-rock hoedown, one of those periodic C&W side trips that some fusioneers attempt for a lark, and "The Gardens of Babylon" is a wonderfully memorable tune, the beginnings of which grow out of "New Country." The last half of the LP is taken up by the title composition, a strong four-part suite that hangs together with barely a snag in interest over its 20-minute span. 

If you are a considering buying a Luc Ponty CD and you're not sure where to begin....well the answer is, Imaginary Voyage. I own most of his music and this one stands out as being the most musical and beautiful compostion. (I might add that Egnimatic Ocean is another gem). Listen on all you progressive Jazz lovers :)

Back in the 70's, I bought this album - the second ponty Album I got after Cosmic Messenger. the music was PERFECT for the time period and for things going through me back then. Like Cosmic messenger, it takes you on that achetypical "trip" that some of us discovered later can be experienced without "medical assistance." ;-) This will do it for you! in fact, this is the sort of music that you put headphones on for and sit it out on your most comfortable chair ... close your eyes and "travel." The music is compelling and extrememly well orchestrated. The melodies are extremely unique keeping in mind when it came out (that is if you heard similar, you probably heard copy cats from later periods.) This is a highly recommended piece of the Ponty Collection which I will keep updating at every improvement of technology (Album to Tape to CD to DVD, whatever ...) This album was part of the "fusion" music that took my out of my high brow classical phase into the "modern era." 

Imaginary Voyage is awesome. Jean Luc Ponty shows that there is such a thing as violin jazz, but his sound is one that can't be pigeonholed. Just listen to county and western influenced 'New Gardens' and it will have you bobbing your head and tapping your feet. The slower paced 'The Gardens of Babylon' is just as powerful. I think that every cut is a winner. Imaginary Voyage Parts I through IV just flows from one cut to the next. You can hear the instruments talk to one another. This is one of my favorite CD's. Try listening to it through earphones. Awesome! Highly recommended.Vannie(~.~)

For his second album of 1976 Jean Luc Ponty finaly realized the combination of musical ideas that would offer him his distinctive sound. While his previous two albums were certainly nothing to skimp on,they were actually part of a process which would lead up to a string of late 70's musical triumphs for him. Beginning with this album. After a period of seeing which,where and how of his own musical ideas fit his sound best,it seemed that everything was building to what happened here. And I can honestly say it's one of his very best musical achievements.

"New Country" is likely one of the most unique compositions ever. It sounds rather like some combination of a country/western howdown and a firey jazz rocker. Very inventive. "The Gardens Of Babylon" and "Once Upon A Dream" showcase the best aspect of his "new sound" very well: sleek,glossy and streamlined fusion with a good emphasis on melody and rhythmically powerful as well. "Tarantula" goes an excellent job at blending the pounding jazz rock with more rhythmic jazz funk. Not as simple to do as one might think but it works here. The title track,a four part rhythmic extravaganza ending with an intense eight minute jazz funk groove again allows for some exciting soloing from Ponty.

Jean Luc Ponty's musical journey was always as ongoing one. I suppose if you followed his musical progression from his earliest days to his latest release the progression would be more obvious. But even taken in scattered bits it's not difficult to hear. This basic format of one half of seperate compositions and another of several parts of the title song would be something he'd stay with for a little while. And it was quite a good concept really. It gave him the chance to lead into his main theme. That way nothing could come off as underwelming. Any way you look at it,in this case it definitely worked on every level. 

Long ago, I got the LP "Imaginary Voyage," and played it until it was worn out. Then I got the cassette tape and played that until it was worn out. Right now, I'm working on the CD version of the album, and am far from tired of listening to it. This is, in my opinion, the best album that Jean-Luc Ponty has recorded: the best variety of music and the best that he has written. Starting with "New Country" and moving into the dreamy "Gardens of Babylon" and "Wandering On The Milky Way," into the urgencies of "Once Upon A Dream" and then into the sharp "Tarantula," Ponty displays a variety of emotions with his mastery of the electric violin. He then tops that with the epic 4-part "Imaginary Voyage," which culminates in the wonderful eight-minute "Part IV." Jean-Luc Ponty has been around a long time and has a lot of recordings, and if you haven't heard this album before, get it. It's definitely worth buying.

(As an aside, I had heard about this album from watching "Soundstage," an old PBS show from long ago, when they had an episode called "Fiddlers Three," featuring Doug Kershaw, Itzahk Perlman and Jean-Luc Ponty. A wonderful show, showing three different types of violin performances: Ponty, so smooth and even in using the bow, even in fast songs, it seemed like he wouldn't break a sweat. Perlman played classical music, his movements so precise, sharp and clean, carefully and exacting in his bow work. Kershaw played Cajun country music, all elbows and movement, the strings on his bow breaking from his sawing motions on the violin, it appeared so sloppy compared to the other two but sounded so good. At the end, all three combined on one song, playing various parts in their own style. A great show with great talent using the same instrument but playing diverse ways.)

Tracks Listing

1. New Country (3:07)
2. The Gardens Of Babylon (5:06)
3. Wandering On The Milky Way (Violin Solo) (1:50)
4. Once Upon A Dream (4:08)
5. Tarantula (4:04)
6. Imaginary Voyage
Part I (2:22)
Part II (4:05)
Part III (5:28)
Part IV (8:00)

Total Time 38:10

Line-up / Musicians

- Jean-Luc Ponty / Electric and acoustic violins, organ and background synthesizers
- Marc Craney / Percussion
- Tom Fowler / Electric bass
- Daryl Steurmer / Electric and acoustic guitars
- Allan Zavod / Electric keyboards and acoustic piano


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Lo tengo original de cuando salio en vinilo, discazo

  3. http://www98.zippyshare.com/v/dBDbRqhr/file.html

  4. You are so generous and knowledgeable with your sharing of this, and other GREAT music here.
    Thank you so much for reviving some of my vinyl memories, and broadening my horizons:)

    All the BEST!

    1. This one is a good place to start, fine playing!

  5. Jean é insubstituível, incomparável, mas em alguns momentos fica repetitivo
    Bons álbuns são: cósmic...mystical... Aurora...Taste fora....enigmatic... e só

  6. Jean é insubstituível, incomparável, mas em alguns momentos fica repetitivo
    Bons álbuns são: cósmic...mystical... Aurora...Taste fora....enigmatic... e só