Jean-Luc Ponty

Mystical Adventures

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Mystical Adventures expands Jean-Luc Ponty's palette slightly with the introduction of part-time percussionist Paulinho Da Costa and the use of a vocoder on a couple of tracks. Otherwise, it's the same mixture of mildly intoxicating arpeggios and flights of fancy that you'd find in various amounts on any Ponty album from this period. The five-part suite "Mystical Adventures" is a softer sibling to the earlier "Imaginary Voyage," utilizing vaguely Spanish themes and occasionally ambient pairings of organ and synthesizer to create a work similar to Chick Corea's "Touchstone." While in the course of its 20 minutes some interesting ideas are explored on the first side of music, the real showstoppers are a cover of Stevie Wonder's "As" and the closing "Jig." These two songs are as engaging and fun as anything from Ponty's Atlantic output -- not coincidentally, they're two of the three songs that feature Da Costa, whose percussion complements Ponty's violin to create dual engines of propulsion. The return of guitarist Jamie Glaser has little audible effect on the music, though the addition of drummer Rayford Griffin (who would remain with Ponty for the rest of the decade) alongside bassist Randy Jackson results in one of the most muscular rhythm sections on any Ponty album. Beginning with A Taste for Passion, Ponty's fusion became smoother and softer, with fewer violin solos and more participation from the band. Mystical Adventures continues this trend, and can be regarded as somewhat more accessible than his earlier fusion albums, if less substantive. In a way, this record marks the end of an era for the electric violinist, his affair with the organ and electric piano blossoming into a full-time relationship with synthesizers on subsequent albums that allowed him to pursue a solo career in earnest.

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