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DiMeola/Ponty/Clarke: Live at Montreux 1994 (DVD)

Live at Montreux 1994 sees the talents of three legends of the jazz-fusion genre on stage together for the first time-guitarist Al DiMeola, violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, and bassist Stanley Clarke. While DiMeola and Clarke obviously played together in Return to Forever in the 70's, this would be the first time Ponty has collaborated with the two musicians. The trio would release the critically acclaimed CD Rites of Strings the following year, of which the song "Memory Canyon" is played here. Featuring songs from throughout the three players careers, the results are majestic and exemplary, if not slightly laid back seeing as this is for the most part an all acoustic affair. Those looking to see DiMeola's scorching Gibson Les Paul licks running in unison with Ponty's soaring electric violin with Clarke's gymastic & rumbling bass lines underneath better look elsewhere. The ten songs in this set are gentle pieces that rarely see the three members hitting the scorch button, although Ponty's solo features all sorts of cool effects that will remind of his 70's output. Clarke also manages to pull some fleet fingered bass runs during his solo "School Days", which is impressive considering the large double bass he is playing. Of the three, DiMeola is the most laid back, as he chooses to paint colors with lush chords and Latin tinged scales rather than blazing arpeggios. The band comes back out for an encore and plays the Chick Corea/Stanley Clarke penned "Song to John" yet again, this time with guest Monty Alexander on keyboards, as he sits in for the missing Corea for a thrilling rendition.

If you are in the mood for some classy acoustic jazz with plenty of classical and Latin touches, you can't go wrong with this DVD. Sure, it's no fusion barnburner, as evidenced by the resulting CD the trio put out shortly after this concert, but it shows three pros who were just figuring out how to get along together musically and make some sweet sounds.


Track List
1) Song to John
2) Memory Canyon
3) La Cancion De Sofia
4) Summer Country Song (Al DiMeola solo)
5) School Days (Stanley Clarke solo)
6) Eulogy to Oscar Romero (Jean-Luc Ponty solo)
7) Renaissance
8) Chilean Pipe Song
9) Song to John (featuring Monty Alexander)
10) Indigo

Added: August 2nd 2005
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: Eagle Rock Entertainment
Hits: 2085
Language: english

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DiMeola/Ponty/Clarke: Live at Montreux 1994 (DVD)
Posted by Steve Ambrosius, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-08-02 11:23:29
My Score:

There is no denying that Live At Montreux contains three of the greatest musicians to ever tackle their particular instrument. Jean-Luc Ponty was the first to add effects and electronics to the violin. He plays his instrument like a jazz mucisian would play a woodwind. Stanley Clarke, whether on stand-up or electric bass, has been emulated and envied since the 70s for the sounds and groves he delivers. Al Di Meola has played electrified jazz for years, but when he has a chance to move on the acoustic, it is purely awe-inspiring.


All of this makes this DVD one amazing listen. The number one problem is that this is a DVD and mixes sight and sound. The sound is absolutely excellent, but as far as the visual goes; Live At Montreux is fairly boring. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that this group had not played live together before, and that most of the music was new to many of them. But even when each is given an opportunity to solo, the filming is still pretty sedate. The camera's on Clarke's bass are by far the most interesting, although the angle causes the screen to washout frequently because of the background lighting. Di Meola spends so much time staring at his music stand that he never really makes contact with the audience or the cameras.


So, it sounds like I am not recommending this, but although a DVD is supposed to fuse sight and sound, the amazing sounds make up for the rather bland presentation. Live At Montreux has no bonus features, and so you are really purchasing this DVD to hear three of the best play classy, unique jazz. To me it is worth it. For others, the later released Rite Of Strings may be sufficient.




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