Jean Luc Ponty: Storytelling (1989)

[Kronomyth 25.0]
Twice-told tales.

I’m a collector. If I like an artist, I’ll buy their body of work limb by limb. Not that I’m prepared to pay an arm and a leg for an album like Storytelling, but if I find it in a used record store for a few bucks, it’s going back to the lab with me. However, it’s a reflexive act more than premeditated self-medication. Somewhere in the mental associations of my mind is Folder P for Ponty with a little smiley face on it and a hand-written note that reads “progressive rock.” It dates back to Mystical Adventures mostly, the first Ponty album I ever owned. The same thing occurs with Chick Corea, having first purchased Romantic Warrior, and I’ve got a few latter-day lurchers to thank for that knee jerk. The old associations don’t die, they just grow dimmer with every album of smooth fusion that drifts further from the fantastic world of progressive rock. Now, Ponty was never a progressive alchemist so much as a jazz musician who saw electronics as a path to progress. A mystical and adventurous notion in the ‘70s, not so much at the close of the ‘80s. His plugged-in period sounds alike to me: part geometry, part kaleidoscope, all of it advancing the notion that the electronic violin is a viable vehicle for modern jazz. In album-size doses, his music is a refreshing island of intellectual escape. However, each of the islands offers the same basic fare; if Rabbitson Crusoe taught us nothing else, it’s that no menu is an island. Me, I’ve heard this story too many times to be captivated anew by it, but (apparently) not everyone has a saturation point for Ponty.

Original LP Version
A1. In The Fast Lane (4:09)
A2. Tender Memories (5:20)
A3. Spring Episode (5:51)
A4. Pastoral Harmony (4:20)
B1. The Story Teller (4:24)
B2. The Amazon Forest (4:25)
B3. After The Storm (4:20)
B4. A Journey’s End (4:19)
B5. Chopin Prelude No. 20 (With Violin Improvisation) (Frederic Chopin, arr. by Jean-Luc Ponty) (2:59)

All music composed and orchestrated by Jean Luc Ponty unless noted.

The Players
Jean Luc Ponty (5 string violin, Synclaver II, violin synthesizer, classical violin, keyboards), Baron Browne (bass), Jamie Glaser (guitars), Rayford Griffin (drums and percussion), Wally Minko (piano, keyboards) with Clara Ponty (piano on B5), Patrice Rushen (synthesizers on A2, B3), Grover Washington Jr. (soprano saxophone on A2), Kurt Wortman (percussion on B2). Produced by Jean Luc Ponty; tracking engineered and mixed by Brian Malouf; overdub engineering by Peter Kelsey; assistant tracking and mixing engineered by Jeff Poe; additional recording engineering by John Anthony & Eric Zobler.

The Pictures
Art direction by Nancy McDonald/David Coleman. Photography by Michele Clement.

The Plastic
Released on elpee, cassette and compact disc in August 1989 in the US (Columbia, FC/CT/CK 45252), Canada (Columbia, FCT 45252), Germany (CBS, 465602 1) and Venezuela (CBS, JZ-20082); reached #4 on the US Top Contemporary Jazz charts.

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