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'Better Late Than Never'
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Johnny Main
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the anderson ponty band

One of the most eagerly awaited releases of 2015 is from the AndersonPonty Band, which features the legendary singer/songwriter Jon Anderson alongside the equally legendary violinist Jean Luc Ponty.

The album is called ‘Better Late Than Never’, and it encompasses a single CD containing a studio performance from the AndersonPonty band or a CD/DVD set which has the studio album along with a live performance of the album recorded at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, Colorado back in September 2014, allowing you to experience not only the stunning sounds of the band but also the innovative visual production showcased on the DVD.

Multi-instrumentalist Jon Anderson is, of course, best known for his work with progressive rock band Yes with whom he was a member of (on and off) between 1968 and 2008 Anderson is also an accomplished solo artist in his own right, who has collaborated with the likes of Vangelis, Mike Oldfield, Tangerine Dream as well as his old Yes cohorts, Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman, and Steve Howe.

As for Jean Luc Ponty, he has had a no less impressive career as a virtuoso violinist and jazz composer who has worked alongside the talent as diverse as Frank Zappa, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Elton John, Chick Corea and Stéphane Grappelli.

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The AndersonPonty Band isn’t a new idea, however, because it was back in the eighties that Ponty originally approached by Anderson with the idea of working together, and now, some thirty years later, the dream has finally come to fruition – and what a stunning reality the work has become.

The band visit the music created by both Anderson and Ponty over the years with new arrangements, virtuosic performances and new energy as well as throwing in a dash of completely new music, which all blends together in a seamless display.

As far as older tracks go, you’ve got ‘One In The Rhythm Of Hope’ which is taken from Ponty’s 1982 ‘Mystical Adventures’ album. Drummer Rayford Griffin keeps the tempo tight as the moderately fast number finds its feet. Anderson’s voice sounds particularly good here, and once the track really gets going, it’s Ponty who shines as he shows his genius with the violin - especially as the song climaxes.

Rather than just re-record his track ‘Mirage’ from his ‘Enigmatic Ocean’ album (originally released in 1977) it’s incorporated into the track ‘Infinite Mirage’ here. What that does is provide a showcase for Ponty's skills giving Anderson a break as his vocals are quite sparse here. It's an uplifting track though, that certainly has a jaunty and jazzy feel to it.

Of course there are a handful of Yes numbers thrown into the mix too including, as you would expect, the classic ‘Owner Of A Lonely Heart’ from the bands 1983 opus ‘90125’. I’m no expert on Yes, but have a passing familiarity with their back catalogues, and to me, the song is given a new lease of life here with the famous keyboard riff toned down slightly and the violins taking precedence.

There's no concession to tempo however, which remains as per the original with the violin taking over from the guitar part mid-song while Anderson’s voice has rarely sounded better.

While that track remains fairly faithful to the original track, this can’t be said for ‘Time And A Word’, the title track from Yes’ second album which was originally recorded in 1970. This new version features acoustic guitar and a Jamaican sounding drum beat (Anderson was there in 1969 where he met Bob Marley, according to the spoken intro to the track).

The violin from Ponty has space to settle down in the track before the lyrics start, but compared to the original, this could almost be a different track entirely. The question I'm wondering is what die hard Yes fans will make of it?

the anderson ponty band

If you’re a fan of Anderson’s work with Yes, then this is definitely something that should be on your list, but maybe some of the song choices or arrangements might take some time to grow on you. Ponty definitely adds something special to the songs, and it’s certainly been well worth the thirty odd year wait for this collaboration to materialise.

All I'm hoping is that their tour stretches across to Europe because this is one band I'd love to see live.

You can see the official video for ‘Owner Of A Lonely Heart' live here:

You can see The AndersonPonty Band live here:
Tuesday 27th October – Glenside Keswick Theater, Philadelphia
Thursday 29th October – Monmouth Count Basie Theatre, Red Bank
Friday 30th October – Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield
Sunday 1st November – Munhall Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead, Pittsburgh
Tuesday 3rd November – Lake Charles The Arcadia Theatre, Chicago
Wednesday 4th November – Milwaukee South Performing Arts Center, Milwaukee
Friday 6th November – Detroit Music Hall, Detroit
Saturday 7th November – Danforth Music Hall, Toronto
Tuesday 10th November – Howard Theater, Washington DC
Wednesday 11th November – Paramount Theater, Long Island
Friday 13th November – New York Society For Ethical Culture, New York City
Saturday 14th November – Berklee Performance Center, Boston
Tuesday 17th November – Regency Ballroom, San Francisco
Wednesday 18th November – Crest Theater, Sacramento
Friday 20th November – Saban Theater, Los Angeles
Saturday 21st November – Talking Stick Resort & Casino, Scottsdale

‘Better Late Than Never’ Track List:
Band Intro
One in the Rhythm of Hope
A for Aria
Owner of a Lonely Heart
Listening with Me
Time and a Word
Infinite Mirage
Soul Eternal
Wonderous Stories
And You and I
Renaissance of the Sun
I See You Messenger
New New World

The AndersonPonty Band are:
Jon Anderson – Vocals
Jean Luc Ponty – Violin
Jamie Glaser – Guitar
Baron Browne – Bass Guitar
Wally Minko – Keyboards
Rayford Griffin – Drums

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