Celestial confluence proving to be a down-to-earth life force and stitching the past to the future.
“This is truly happening,” runs the refrain of “One In The Rhythms Of Hope,” the first song on the first album by two very singular talents, anchoring the disbelief of such a possibility. First discussed about three decades ago, a joint venture of Jon Anderson and Jean-Luc Ponty started in earnest in a very grounded manner, as a live unit, and this record, whose title nails its provenance, bears fruit of a 2014 concert, with on-stage tracks given a coat of studio additions. As a result, there’s an informal performance on CD and DVD, and visual effects can hardly embellish the experience because the delivery is spellbinding enough without it.
Psychedelic layer works for the effervescent fusion of “Infinite Mirage” which builds a song on a Ponty classic and finds guitarist Jamie Dunlap striking heroic poses for a duel with the violinist, although Jamie Glaser cut all the six-string parts anew, while Anderson, looking fragile if fit, rocks delicately but hard on “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” to throw most of the ethereal notions to the wind. The solid connection between the artists, hinted at by “And You And I” quote in the intro, is palpable on “A For Aria” as the gentle bow paints a fluttering figures over a solemn march and the voice soars to the sun, the veterans’ introvert and extrovert stance creating a majestic kind of dynamic tension.
It gets jazzy and loose in the acoustic walk through “Wonderous Stories” and “Renaissance Of The Sun” that, once Anderson lyrics and harp give transparency to Ponty’s staple, are sung bossa nova style, as is the mesmeric “Listening With Me,” yet the vivacious reggae wrought out of “Time And A Word” informs it with a suitable urgency and weaves a Fabs line in, whereas “Soul Eternal” wraps the same groove into a folk sensuality. That’s the way of the mutual musical enrichment, and familiar YES tunes receive a merrier fringe – never more so than on “Roundabout” which is turned into a prog-jig now – before “I See You Messenger” marries a myriad harmonies from the days of yore to a hopeful hymn to what’s to come, and the chamber revitalisation of “New New World” from "Survival And Other Stories" brings the point of carpe diem on home. The time is now and it’s right, indeed.