Jean-Luc Ponty

Imaginary Voyage

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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.

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