"Jean-Luc Ponty presented the jazz world with three fabulous albums in the 1970s, and Imaginary Voyage is one of them. I hadn't heard this in years and what a treat it is indeed to hear it again.
The entire album is a tour-de-force. New Country is so good, Ponty's play puts most of Nashville to shame. My favorite cut is the aptly named Once Upon A Dream, a mesmerizing tune with a great deal of background musical tension that can induce a dream-like trance.
The title cut starts out part Yes, part Return to Forever and gives way to the mystical wanderings of Ponty's violin and organ before winding up with an inspired dose of harder-edged guitar driven jazz-fusion.
The only drawbacks to this CD are its relative brevity (under 40 minutes) and the almost non-existent liner notes. Otherwise, I recommend this musical dreamscape to any Ponty fan who has not yet heard it and to the musically adventurous who have not yet heard him."
Let this be the first!
Kurt Harding | 08/23/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are a considering buying a Luc Ponty CD and you're not sure where to begin....well the answer is, Imaginary Voyage. I own most of his music and this one stands out as being the most musical and beautiful compostion. (I might add that Egnimatic Ocean is another gem). Listen on all you progressive Jazz lovers :) Gene"
Great Fiddling Around!
Vannie Ryanes | South Orange, New Jersey United States | 10/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Imaginary Voyage is awesome. Jean Luc Ponty shows that there is such a thing as violin jazz, but his sound is one that can't be pigeonholed. Just listen to county and western influenced 'New Gardens' and it will have you bobbing your head and tapping your feet. The slower paced 'The Gardens of Babylon' is just as powerful. I think that every cut is a winner. Imaginary Voyage Parts I through IV just flows from one cut to the next. You can hear the instruments talk to one another. This is one of my favorite CD's. Try listening to it through earphones. Awesome! Highly recommended.Vannie(~.~)"
A great album of jazz rock with proggy overtones
Jeffrey J.Park | Massachusetts, USA | 07/20/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This 1976 album opens with the track New Country, which has somewhat of a country hoedown feel to it - complete with a "foot-stomping" bass drum/bass guitar pattern and the lightning fast picking of the acoustic guitar and Jean Luc Ponty's "country music on speed" fiddling style. An odd way to open this otherwise proggy jazz rock album perhaps, but the track is pretty neat. The rest of the album however, is really fantastic and blends elements of jazz with rock, along with an admixture of prog rock and a tiny pinch of psychedelic rock too (the spacey and heavily echoed/phased violin solo instrumental "Wandering on the Milky Way" is a good example of this). As a huge prog fan and a casual jazz rock fan I found the blend to be very listenable and extremely enjoyable.
The musicians on this album include virtuoso violinist and band leader Jean Luc Ponty (he played on Frank Zappa's Hot Rats album (1969) and a few mid-70s Mahavishnu Orchestra albums), bassist Tom Fowler (he played on Frank Zappa's One Size Fits All album (1975)), solid studio musician Daryl Stuermer on guitars, Billy Cobham inspired drummer Mark Craney, and keyboardist Allan Zavod (mini-moog, string synthesizer, acoustic piano). I should note that Jean Luc also played Hammond organ and synthesizers too. Come to think of it, synthesizers are featured pretty heavily on this album. All of the musicians are fantastic and although I generally like Daryl's approach and playing, he sometimes "overplays" on the electric guitar (he also did this with Genesis during their live shows). It is not distracting mind you; I just do not feel that his "fast" playing has the same organic feel that virtuoso guitarists John McLaughlin or Alan Holdsworth got when they were burning up and down the fretboard.
The griping aside, the music on this album is just fantastic. It is a perfect blend of jazz rock and prog with enough dynamic contrast, melodic development, and above all else, unchecked virtuosity to keep any proghead thoroughly entertained. My favorite piece of course is the 19'55" multi-movement "Imaginary Voyage" suite. This really is a great track that covers a range of moods and features some excellent playing by all of the band members along with extremely intricate ensemble work - I won't bother going into the numbers of meter shifts per measure but there are a lot.
All in all this is a great album of jazz-rock with an admixture of proggy elements that features the violin as a solo instrument and would make a fine addition to the jazz rock or prog rock album collection. Highly recommended along with the excellent follow-up album Enigmatic Ocean (1977) and other jazz rock albums such as Romantic Warrior (Return to Forever, 1976), Birds of Fire (Mahavishnu Orchestra, 1973), and Cross Collateral (Passport, 1975)."
Journey with Jean-Luc
Jeff Arenson | Colorado Springs, CO United States | 03/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Imaginary Voyage" is one of Ponty's best. This is saying a lot because many of Jean-Luc's recordings were great. The disc starts out with "New Country" which was one of Jean-Luc's first pieces to actually receive airplay. The country inspired piece has Jean-Luc putting most "Fiddlers" to shame. Not only is the melody great but the trading of licks between Ponty and guitarist Stuermer is awesome. "The Gardens of Bablylon" is an acoustic flavored piece and is mystifying/hypnotic in nature. Stuermer and Jean-Luc astonish the listener with their acoustic textured virtuosity. The highlight is the first of many Jean-Luc composed Jazz/Classical/Rock suites which is also the title of the disc. Based on the book of the same name this piece is a Ponty masterwork. Part I contains many intricate unison lines. In the next part Zavod plays a keyboard solo over the spacey theme. Part III is classically inspired beauty and brilliance. The main theme is contrapunctal in form and then Ponty, Zavod and Stuermer all play perfectly phrased solos over it and the result is musical awe. Part IV has Jean-Luc take us to Rock/Jazz fusion mode and both Stuermer and Ponty unleash a barrage of notes in their dizzying solo spots. The whole disc is eclectic in nature. The songs range from Country to ethereal as well as the unbelievable. Once again Ponty shows the world how fusion can be entertaining and mesmerizing at the same time."