Enigmatic Ocean

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by robinson slick, Mar 25, 2020 at 8:26 AM.

  1. robinson slick

    robinson slick Member

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    Cruising around YouTube this morning I fell into this old friend; I haven't thought about it in years. It's a great album, a classic of the 1970's fusion movement. Mirage has such a joyful melancholy vibe to it and on Nostalgic Lady he's joined by Allan Holdsworth. I actually didn't hear this album until 1982 when I went off to college but it was this album that introduced me to Allan and I became a fan instantly. But as great as Allan was on this album it was Ponty's playing that really grabbed me and I spent hours and hours transcribing his lines.

    Looking back, Ponty's music wasn't nearly as intense as a lot of the other fusion acts of the time, his music was much more introspective and mellow, probably why I enjoyed it so much.



     
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  2. rickt

    rickt Gold Supporting Member

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    I recently purchased a box set of his recordings from Amazon. The Aurora LP was one of my favorites. Daryl Stuermer was playing guitar on that recording.
     
  3. GtrWiz

    GtrWiz Member

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    One of my brothers friends in high school, a drummer that was a huge Steve Smith fan, turned me on to this. My intro to Holdsworth as well. Great record!
     
  4. Matt Dillon

    Matt Dillon Member

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    I had that, I can’t remember vinyl or cassette
    it’s good to hear Holdsworth more “mortal”- he hadn’t fully realized his genius as of yet ( though he was already great.)
    Same as with the Tony Williams album
    Good compositions for a “ fusion “ album too
     
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  5. robinson slick

    robinson slick Member

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    Yes, his playing and tone on Enigmatic Ocean is almost identical to what he recorded a couple of years earlier on Tony Williams' Believe It record; that's another really good one too. To me, Holdworth's genius really took flight once his solo material came out because it was then that we all got to hear his chord work and songwriting skills, as a sideman he was pretty much a soloist (I think anyway).
     
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  6. gigsup

    gigsup Supporting Member

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  7. Comet01

    Comet01 Member

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    Spectacular album! Probably in my top 3 of all time.
    Great Songs.
    Great playing.
    A+++
     
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  8. Snottyboy

    Snottyboy Member

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    Great album, first intro to Holdsworth, too. Personally the Daryl Stuermer albums get more play, but I enjoy all of the earlier albums.
     
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  9. Brooks

    Brooks Member

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    I like Holdsworths sideman stuff best. That Heavy Machinery album w/ the Johanson bros is another fave, along w/ Lifetime.
     
  10. Baxtercat

    Baxtercat Member

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    ..and the UK LP, one tune of which actually got radio play! [Dead of Night].
     
  11. buddyboy69

    buddyboy69 Member

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    Had that one on regular rotation in the 90s durring my fusion phase. Love it, one of the best. Actually listened to it again last week after more than 20 years. Could still hum a lot of the melodies and leads.
     
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  12. Eric Rowland

    Eric Rowland Supporting Member

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    BM: Speaking of violin, I saw Jean-Luc Ponty recently. He was doing a trio gig at Carnegie Hall with Stanley Clarke and Bela Fleck.

    AH: Awesome!

    BM: It was really good, and it provided a vehicle for Jean-Luc to play more classically oriented than I had ever heard him play before. It was an electrified violin but he didn’t use effects and he was dealing more with virtuosic chamber kind of stuff.

    AH: Yeah, I really love his playing. He’s an incredible musician.

    BM: Have you been in touch with him?

    AH: No I haven’t been, actually. Last time I spoke to him was about four years ago. We were supposed to hook up with him one time when I was in Paris but we never did. But yeah, I really like Jean-Luc as a guy as well as a musician. Pretty incredible player.

    BM: I hadn’t seen him in a long time and he looked exactly the same as he did 20 years ago. Hadn’t gained a pound. I’m amazed by these people who remain eternally youthful looking.

    AH: Huh, I’ve got a few jowls going myself. Ha-ha.

    BM: That record you guys did, Enigmatic Ocean (Atlantic, 1975) is a fusion classic. It was interesting to hear two guitars on that record, you and Daryl Stuermer (who later played with Genesis and for the past 20 years has been in the Phil Collins band). Two very different approaches to the instrument — you with that flowing hammer-on legato thing and Daryl machine gun-picking every note.

    AH: Oh yeah, that was a nice contrast. I enjoyed that.

    *******

    You recently hooked up with Jean-Luc Ponty for his Acatama Experience CD. What was it like to work with him again?

    It was great. I’ve always been a big fan and love his playing. He’s a sweet guy and he plays like he is. He called one day and asked if I’d be interested in playing on a track on his new album and I said “Sure.” He’s in Paris, so he sent a file over and I played the solo and sent it back in the mail. It’s funny to say “The solo’s in the mail” but that’s how we did it. [laughs] It’s a nice track and I’d like to do more with him. The whole record was pretty much done, so he just wanted a guitar solo for the one tune.

    When you played in Ponty’s band, it was one of the rare occasions you shared the stage with another guitarist—in this case, with Daryl Stuermer. What was it like to share the lead guitar role?

    It was alright. We’re radically different, so it never turned into a war. A lot of times when you get two guitarists together it’s like dueling banjos.

    Stuermer told me he would watch you in awe and that it was a tremendous learning experience for him.

    I was doing the same thing with him. I really thought Daryl was great. I had seen him play as part of Jean-Luc’s band prior to my joining. It was a lot of fun to work with him. The fact that we’re so dissimilar made it work together quite well.

    *******

    Jean-Luc Ponty recalls Allan in a 2017 tribute podcast:

    "I played with Tony (Williams) as a trio in a club in Europe. Later I saw that he had a new album, Million Dollar Legs - is that the right title?. Anyways, I got it to hear what Tony was up to, and one of the biggest musical shocks was to discover Allan’s playing on it. How lyrical, how emotional, how inventive and totally new! At the time, I had started my own band, and I was auditioning guitar players, and all the young players were trying to play like John McLaughlin. After Allan was discovered, they tried to play like Allan! But nobody could, really. I was so impressed. So I was writing music for Enigmatic Ocean (1977), and as I was writing a couple of pieces which were very lyrical, I was hearing him playing on it. I called him up and he accepted my invitation for him to come to LA to record on my album...

    "I remember, I was playing the melody on the violin and hearing him playing (at) the same time. Hearing that guitar sound with my melody on the violin was unreal! I asked him to tour after we released the album, and he came, but he left after a few days - he went back home. I don’t know what he was going through with his family, his wife in England - that’s the kind of guy he was, totally guided by his emotions."

    ******


    Daryl Stuermer also reminisces about this period:

    Innerviews: You shared guitar duties with Allan Holdsworth for Ponty’s 1977 Enigmatic Ocean and its accompanying tour. What was that experience like?

    Stuermer: Allan is the most original guitarist I’ve ever seen. When he was given a part to solo on, he would start very slowly and work his way up until he became the Allan Holdsworth we all know. I was just amazed by his technique and playing. I had never seen anyone do what he does before. I had seen guys doing hammer-ons using the right hand, but Allan was doing it with his left hand, too. He’s just a total natural and I don’t know where half of his ideas come from, because I had never heard anything like that before. Previously, I had heard Allan on a Tony Williams album called Believe It and was impressed. So when Jean-Luc wanted to have two guitarists trading back and forth, I was happy with that arrangement, and it turned out to be an amazing experience. I was always thinking 'Wow, where did that come from?' when Allan soloed. Everything he does is so unique and unconventional. I don’t think the guy can play badly.

    Innerviews: Was it a challenge for you to integrate your guitar style with his?

    Stuermer: It was, but it also opened up some things for me. I thought 'Oh God, no matter how good you get, there’s always going to be someone like Allan who’s going to show you something you never thought of.' Allan is such an incredible, technical player and it was natural that his influence would seep into my own playing. I think his influence even appears on my Go record. I’m playing more fluidly and adventurously than I’ve ever played before, and I would attribute that to being inspired by Allan.

    Allan also had fond memories of this brief collaboration:

    Innerviews: When you played in Ponty’s band, it was one of the rare occasions you shared the stage with another guitarist - in this case, with Daryl Stuermer. What was it like to share the lead guitar role?

    Allan: It was alright! We’re radically different, so it never turned into a war. A lot of times when you get two guitarists together it’s like dueling banjos.

    Innerviews: Stuermer told me he would watch you in awe and that it was a tremendous learning experience for him.

    Allan: I was doing the same thing with him. I really thought Daryl was great. I had seen him play as part of Jean-Luc’s band prior to my joining. It was a lot of fun to work with him. The fact that we’re so dissimilar made it work together quite well.
     
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  13. Comet01

    Comet01 Member

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    Great collection of quotes! Allan's time on the Enigmantic tour was quite brief (approximately one week). The tour started in August 1977 (a month before the album was released). Allan's tenure was so brief that the band never made it out of California before he bailed.

    I bought Enigmatic Ocean upon its release and had tickets to see Ponty in NYC in October. I was a 17 year old kid who was thrilled to get a chance to see Allan Holdsworth! I had no idea what he looked like. It was three or four songs into the concert before Ponty introduced the band members: only then did I realize that Allan had been replaced by Jamie Glaser on the tour.

    Show was fantastic (and LOUD!). The entire Enigmatic Ocean album was played.
    RIP Allan Holdsworth and keyboardist Allan Zavod.

    I'm pretty sure that the Tony William's Lifetime album that Ponty heard was Believe It (not Million Dollar Legs). Million Dollar Legs was a unworthy follow-up to Believe It.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020 at 1:10 PM
  14. John H

    John H Silver Supporting Member

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    Similarly, I saw The Tony Williams Lifetime, opening for Stanley Clarke. I had third row seats and was all hyped up to see Allan Holdsworth. Instead, Bob Tench was on guitar. Saw Ponty, too, with Daryl Stuermer on guitar. Loved that classic era of fusion!
     
  15. gigsup

    gigsup Supporting Member

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    We had fun with that album, when you held up the record to read the liner notes, Ponty's head replaced your own, (from others perspectives).... ahem... and we had 'enhanced perspectives'
     
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  16. Eric Rowland

    Eric Rowland Supporting Member

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  17. ned7flat5

    ned7flat5 Member

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    I’d discovered Holdsworth on Soft Machine’s “Bundles” and Daryl Stuermer was a similar surprise on “Aurora”.

    I was equally impressed with his playing and then he seemed to disappear into “witness protection” obscurity as a criminally under-utilised sideman in prog/pop band, Genesis (a pretentious act whose appeal I’ve never understood).

    I guess he appreciated having a steady gig and retainer ....
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020 at 4:58 PM
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  18. John H

    John H Silver Supporting Member

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  19. Comet01

    Comet01 Member

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    Daryl Stuermer is a talent! He played with JLP for Aurora/Imaginary Voyage/Enigmatic Ocean. I was unhappy to see him leave after Enigmatic Ocean.

    Genesis offered Stuermer too much money to refuse. He did come back to JLP briefly in 1980/1981 when Genesis was off the road.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020 at 6:06 PM
  20. Jimi1983

    Jimi1983 Supporting Member

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    Such a phenomenal album. It’s been one of my favorites for decades and was just listening to this again couple of weeks ago along with Mystical Adventures and Individual Choice.
     
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