Jean-Luc Ponty: Fables (1985)

[Kronomyth 23.0]
Once a Ponty time…

After a couple of underwhelming digital DIY albums in which it appeared Jean-Luc might morph into a cyborg, the refreshing Fables appeared. Ponty hired a pair of talented young unknowns, Scott Henderson and Baron Browne, and retained the services of drummer Rayford Griffin to assemble a full-blooded quartet. The new blood seemed to revive the aging master, who recorded some of his most vibrant and creative music in years. The songs still feature the by-now-familiar mix of digital sequencer patterns and Synclavier accompanied by stringed flights of fancy, so Fables isn’t a departure from his Atlantic opuses. Instead, it’s a stretch along that fantastic journey begun with (Once) Upon The Wings of Music where the sights and sounds re-engage the senses through fresh exotica. Whether on the Hackettsian nightmare of “Radioactive Legacy” or the invigorating “Infinite Pursuit” (the obvious offspring of an Open Mind, I wrote earlier), Ponty and company return to the middle world of prog and fusion from whence most of us first met the maestro. As I’ve pointed out earlier (and after), Ponty’s Atlantic albums are essentially slices of the same cake; some pieces have more icing, some are more substantial. Fables is a better mix of sweetness and substance than most, likely to please fusion fans as well as those who appreciate new age atmospherics. Note that the record runs on the short side, so it’s more conducive to a meditative nap than a long journey (i.e., more hare than tortoise).

Original LP Version
A1. Infinite Pursuite (5:58)
A2. Elephants In Love (5:21)
A3. Radioactive Legacy (6:16)
B1. Cats Tales (4:54)
B2. Perpetual Rondo (4:42)
B3. In The Kingdom of Peace (4:03)
B4. Plastic Idols (3:58)

All music composed and orchestrated by J.L. Ponty.

The Players
J.L. Ponty (Zeta violin, Barcus-Berry violin, Synclavier, Prophet, sequencer, electronic percussion, synthesizers, effects), Baron Browne (bass), Rayford Griffin (drums), Scott Henderson (guitar). Produced by J.L. Ponty; recording and mix engineered by Peter R. Kelsey.

The Pictures
Cover concept, titles and art direction by Claudia Ponty. Photography by Jonathan Exley.

The Plastic
Released on elpee and cassette in September 1985 in the US (Atlantic, 81276-1/4), Brazil (Atlantic, 20135), Mexico (Atlantic, LWA 6469) and Venezuela (Atlantic, 3.094); reached #166 on the US charts and #9 on the US Jazz charts.

  1. Re-issued on compact disc and cassette in 1987 in the US (Atlantic, A2 81276/-4).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in 2006 in the US (Wounded Bird, WOU 8276).

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