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Jon Anderson, Jean-Luc Ponty find 1 + 1 equals more than two
Jon Anderson and Jean-Luc Ponty are hardly strange musical bedfellows.
The two come from similarly adventurous aesthetics -- Anderson with prog-rock heroes Yes, violinist Ponty from a broad course of jazz and rock fusion that's included his own work plus tenures with Frank Zappa, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return To Forever and more. Now they've formed the AndersonPonty Band, playing material from each of their repertoires
"I got in touch with Jean-Luc through a friend and I listened to his 'Greatest Hits' and started singing on a couple of them for fun, and I sent back some music ideas to him and he really liked them and he started sending me some of his new music and it sorta clicked," Anderson, 71, says by phone from rehearsals in Pennsylvania for the AndersonPonty Band's current tour.
"The way he plays violin is so magical and the mood of his music is very, very clear, and I just happen to enjoy singing we them. So we decided I'd write songs with him and we started talking about going on tour and everything. It was very natural and easy."
The duo has so far released a live album and DVD, "Better Late Than Never," recorded during shows last fall in California. They plan to work on new material, too, along with more live performances that will be both stripped-down and acoustic as well as a full-scale orchestra and choir concert piece.
"I think the days of just going into a studio and making an album are not what I want to do anymore," Anderson says. "I'm more interested in the adventure of free-form ideas. I know it sounds crazy, but I like it when you're not quite sure what you're gonna do until you get on stage."
Anderson, meanwhile, has more projects he's working on, ranging from an album he started working on 22 years ago to another that began last year as well as an opera about Bill and Hillary Clinton that he acknowledges is " very bizarre, very surreal." He may also find himself in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame within the next six months; Yes is a finalist for the class of 2016, and even though the group booted Anderson out 10 years ago after he couldn't tour for health reasons, he says he'll be more than happy to serve if elected.
"It's funny, 'cause I never felt that I've left Yes," Anderson says. "Emotionally I'm still in that Yes entity. When we were very, very young as a band I realized that Yes is this thing above us. It's something to do with the energy of who we are musically and not who's in the band. People say, 'What's it like not being in Yes?' and I feel like I'm still in Yes.
"I'm always thinking Yes music, and the best of what Yes has done is still alive and kicking. It reaches a lot of people. So, yes, it'd be cool to be (inducted), and I'll be there if it happens."
8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6.
Detroit Music Hall Center, 350 Madison Ave.
Tickets are $42-$79.
Call 313-887-8501 or visit musichall.org.
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