This albums biggest stumbling block to the casual listener, is also the albums biggest asset, and that is Violin player Jean Luc Ponty. Once you accept that there is no lead guitar on this album, just Jon’s exquisite singing and Jean virtuoso violin playing, then you are in for an aural treat. This aptly titled release, ‘Better Late Than Never’ captures their live performances from September 2014 at Aspen Colorado’s Wheeler Opera House, and feature’s new arrangements of classic YES songs “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”, “Roundabout” and “Wonderous Stories,” as well as a rewrite of a Jean Luc Ponty classic “Mirage” tune titled “Infinite Mirage.”
Jon Anderson and Jean-Luc Ponty are backed by Rayford Griffin on drums, Jamie Glaser on guitar, Wally Minko on keys and Baron Browne on bass. This line up has taken Prog to a whole new level, jon Anderson’s voice seems as strong as ever and Jean is just a phenomenal musician, composer and songwriter, this is the strongest pairing Jon has had since Vangelis.
So what do we get?
The three Yes covers are interesting, with ‘Wonderous Stories’ coming off best. Jon sing’s in a very relaxed style, even bordering on Lounge Music at times while a great Piano accompaniment fills the soundscape.
‘Owner of A Lonely Heart’ stays near faithful to the original, substituting Guitar for Violin doesn’t really distract from the overall feel of the song, and for me is just ‘another version’.
‘Rounabout’ gets a total reworking, a lot more jazzier than normal, very expressive and free flowing.
The album opens with an instrumental intro, this is the band coming together as one, leading into the first track ‘One in the Rhythm of Hope’ a undeniable coming together of Yes and Jazz.
‘A for Aria’ is a lovely gentle piece, Jon’s voice sounds as powerful and emotive as ever on here
‘Soul Eternal’ could have been a Yes track, however on this track it is Jean’s turn to shine, and he certainly makes that Violin sing.
‘Infinite Mirage’ blends the jazz influences of Jean with Jon’s rock background to produce an exceptional re-working of a Jean Luc Ponty classic.
‘Renaissance of the Sun’ is a joint composed piece and it sounds very good. Again Jean takes center stage though never over powering Jon, they work together to produce a brilliant song.
‘I See You Messenger’ really see’s Jon and Jean moving this project forward, just about finding the balance to prove that there is still more to come from this partnership.
The last track “New New World” was originally released as a Jon Anderson solo song on his album ‘Survival and Other Stories’. This version includes violins and is a great addition to the album, though not a new song, it’s good to hear it play live.
Overall this is a brilliant Prog album, if a little to heavy on the jazz for me, though well worth a listen.
- Band Intro (1:17)
- One in the Rhythm of Hope (4:34)
- A for Aria (3:22)
- Owner of a Lonely Heart (5:04)
- Listening with Me (5:39)
- Time and a Word (5:30)
- Infinite Mirage (3:48)
- Soul Eternal (4:58)
- Wonderous Stories (4:01)
- And You and I (3:00)
- Renaissance of the Sun (6:36)
- Roundabout (5:27)
- I See You Messenger (3:50)
- New New World (3:46)
Jon Anderson – Vocals, Guitar
Jean-Luc Ponty – Violin
Jamie Glaser – Guitars
Wally Minko – Keyboards
Baron Browne – Bass
Rayford Griffin – Drums & Percussion