‘We want to redesign it’: Jon Anderson and Jean-Luc Ponty take a radical approach to their own music

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A whirlwind three-week residency at Aspen, Colorado’s Wheeler Opera House culiminates with the debut performance tonight (September 20, 2014) of the new Anderson Ponty Band. Formed by Jon Anderson and Jean-Luc Ponty, they’ll be presenting music both new and familiar — though radically reworked, they say — along with four ace sidemen.

“We’re not just going to go there and [do a] play-our-hits sort of thing,” Anderson, the former Yes frontman, tells Aspenbeat host Andrea Young. “No, we want to recreate our music, redesign it, make it just sound better than ever.”

Tonight’s show, which finds Ponty using the familiar five-string blue violin he debuted on 1978’s Cosmic Messenger, will be recorded for a fully crowd-funded live and album and DVD to be released in 2015. The group is rounded out guitarist Jamie Dunlap, keyboardist Wally Minko, bassist Baron Browne and drummer Rayford Griffin. Anderson says together they’ve already constructed seven new songs for use on a subsequent original studio effort, as well.

That creative spark became obvious as they began radically reworking songs from their shared catalog of musical favorites. “We start with the core, the melody, of what made that song popular maybe,” Ponty says, “but then instead of sticking to that, we go somewhere else with it. It becomes a totally new piece.”

A reinvigorated Anderson, who split with Yes a decade ago, cautions that they aren’t approaching Anderson Ponty Band as one of the typical one-off supergroups. “We’re going to invest our time and effort to tour next year through spring and summer, and then the following year, and so on,” he says. “We want to make it an ongoing thing. You know, you start doing it and maybe in the next five years we’ll still be doing this, you know.”

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