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September 20, 1977 - Image 7

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1977-09-20

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The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, September 20, 1977-Page 7
Ponty's 'jazz-rock fusion' a sham


i !"





Jean-Luc Ponty and his army of elec-#
tric violins descended on Hill Auditori-
um Saturday night with a group of mu-
sicians supposedly considered in the
forefront of the 'jazz-rock fusion.' Un-
fortunately for jazz aficionados, Ponty
and his cohorts played a two-hour set of
uninventive, overdramatic, and cliched
rock and roll.
Ponty, who produced some excellent
music during his association with
Frank Zappa several years ago, has
successfully broken into the 'fusion'
market and it was quite obvious that
most of the sell-out crowd was en-
thralled by his music. For a smaller
portion of the crowd, (of whom 50-100
walked out quite early in the concert)
and for myself, the show was a painful
reminder of the music industries cor-
ruption of artists with the potential to,
contribute to the growth of jazz today.,
The compositions offered were a va-
riety of dull, repetitive pieces, complete
with standard rock solos from music-
ians who lacked any semblance of soul
or aesthetic taste. Ponty's technical
abilities on the violin remain unques-
tioned, but his solos also seemed void of
a creative spark. At one point during
the concert, Ponty introduced a compo-
sition stating that it, "was not a heavy
mental piece " Undoubtably this state-
ment could be appropriately applied to
his entire repertoire.
Much has been written about the fast

®. ..r.

Por s Foxx



.and raunchy shows

growing popularity of the 'jazz-rock fu-
sion,' but unfortunately the results of
this popularity has severely strained
the quality of serious jazz available in
today's market. Multi-talented artists
such as Chick COrea, George Benson,
Herbie Hancock, and Ponty are direct-
ing a great deal of their time and en-
ergy into music where their prodigious
skills go wasted. Ope might question
why this 'fusion' has to be. Guitarist-
Composer Frank Zappa has stated the
answer quite clearly; "The real jazz-
rock fusion is the fusion between the
musician and the cash register."
This concert was the first and cer-
tainly the least of the upcoming Eclipse
series entitled, Jazz: The American
Classic. Obviously the Ponty concert
was by no means a 'jazz classic,' but fu-
ture shows promise a variety of music-
ians who have remained undaunted in
the face of the fusion dollar. Mike Grof-
sorean, one of Eclipse's booking agents,
feels the organization has "a moral re-
sponsibility to the artists who have re-
tained their musical integrity." Some-
times that means booking an act (such
as Ponty) that is not as pleasing to us,
but will bring in enough cash to sponsor
music of a higher quality.
Over the past several years Eclipse
has worked diligently in cultivating a
broader based jazz interest in the Ann
Arbor area. This has created a desir-
able market for financiers of jazz shows
who are profit oriented (Eclipse is not)
and put on concerts with higher ticket
prices and less benefits for the music-
ians. This syndrome added to the
signing of Ponty into the jazz series, as
another promoter expressed interest in
signing Ponty, purposely on the same
night as Eclipse was introducing a les-
ser known artist to the community. The
political realities of the music industry
can often be frustrating to sensitive
producers such as Eclipse and Ponty, in
the end, was needed for their series to
survive economically. Fortunately, the
is looking for energetic
people with a strong in-
terest in movies.
Stop by one of our
showings for details

fall program will certainly help jazz lis-
teners forget about a Saturday night in
Hill Auditorium when Jean-Luc Ponty
and company played tasteless rock and
roll through a sound system that muf-
fled what little clarity they had to offer.
Pat Martino and Bobby Rose opened
the concert with a guitar duet of
straightforward and excellent jazz.
Through a 30-minute opening set Rose

played rhythm and Martino an inven-
tive, soaring lead guitar. The compo-
sitions were a combination of new
pieces and traditional jazz tunes, in-
cluding a stirring rendition of 'Sunny.'
Martino's leads were hypnotic in
nature, winding and intricate, and he
displayed his masterful technical
abilities for the jazz guitar.

This season two black comedians
whose material is notoriously untele-
visable have been given variety shows
on television. Redd Foxx, spirited away
from Sanford and Son by ABC, appears
in the Redd Foxx Show on Thursday
nights at 10 p.m. Richard Pryor hosts
The Richard Pryor Show Tuesdays at 8
on NBC. The titles aren't original, but
the shows are, each in a different way.,
Redd Foxx, known far and wide as a
dirty old man, seems an unlikely choice
for a typical variety show. And typical
it is, with the usual opening monologue,
the usual comedy sketches interspersed
with production numbers. Yet Foxx
takes the traditional comedy-variety
framework and stretches it to fit his
own originality. In one sequence, he
comes out and explains how the viewers
can tell when a production number
would 'be coming up. First the host
comes out. Then the lights dim and an
elaborate set is lowered down. (Behind
him, the lights dim, and a set falls oblig-
ingly.) Then music will begin to play in
the background, and a group of beauti-
ful dancing girls will appear. (It does,
and they do) Some one off-stage will
throw the host a #~at anid cane. (Foxx
misses both) Then thi production num-
ber begins. As he finishes explaining,
the stage is set. "But I don't want to do
that," he concludes, and goes off for a
commercial instead.
The Richard Pryor Show is, as they
say, a different can of worms alto-
gether. Like his style or not, there's no
denying that he oozes of originality. It's
hard to say whether he's funny or not,
but he is very energetic, and very noisy.
His opening show began with a clut-
tered take-off of "Star Wars," where he
was a bartender in a bar full of mon-
sterous aliens. The sketch mainly con-
sisted of Pryor gawking in terror at his

customers. After a brief sketch where a
construction worker sings "I've Got to
Be Me" while stripping to a bikini, and
a Western take-off, Pryor plays a faith
healer at about 500 decibels. It is in the
final sketch that the tone changes. The
last sketch was an atmosphere piece
about a soldier who comes back from
war to see his sweetheart, who wanted
to be a ballerina and ended up a night-
club singer. It catches the essence of a
40's nightclub wonderfully, and was
done with warmth instead of frenzy.
While Redd Foxx explores within the
known boundaries of television com-
edy, Pryor crashes through. The price
he seems to have paid is uneveness of
Many comedians complain that they
destroy their originality when they
have to clean up their acts for TV.
Pryor was upset when a small piece of
his show was cut out by the network. He
and Foxx should realize they don't need
to be dirty to be funny. All they need is
good writing and an opportunity.
They've got both, and we can hope they
take advantage of it.

- - - 4-2 In A KIM C A %lr - - -



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Daily Photo by ALAN BILNSKY
Jean-Luc Ponty appeared Saturday night at Hill Aud. as the first
in the Eclipse Jazz series.





7:00 p.m.


" ,,,

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)-The Golden
State Warriors went ,from the 3basket-
ball ridiculour to the sublime in just 24
hours during the 1976-77 season. On
March 18 they scored only eight points
in the first quarter of a 98-85 loss to the
Log Angeles Lakers. It was-a two-year
The .next night, however, the
Warriors pulverized Indiana, 150-91. It
not only was the largest point totatl for
Golden State since the Warriors moved
to the West Coast in 1962, but the 59-
point margin of victory was the largest
in five years or since the NBA record
was set by the Los Angeles Lakers on
March 19, 1972, a 162-99 triumph over
those same Golden State Warriors.

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Musical Hit Opens PTP Series
Ralph Glenmore, Bernard Marsh and Garry Q. Lewis as the "Solitunes"
from the smash hit musical revue, "Bubbling Brown Sugar." This 1977
.grammy Award winning musical, currently still on Broadway, will open
the 1977-78 Best of Broadway Series presented by the Professional
Theatre Program at the University of Michigan. This exciting National
Touring Company will open on September 23 at the Power Center. There
will be three evening performances starting at 8 p.m./(23-25) and one
matinee performance at 2 p.m. on the 25th. PTP Ticket Office opens
Monday, September 19 in the Michigan League for this swinging new
musical. Tickets are also on sale through all Hudson Ticket outlets and
Central Ticket in Toledo. For further information, call:(313) 764-0450.

The No. 1 Rock-n-Roll Disco HAPPY HOUR
K 737 N. Huron
(at Lowell, just east of the E .M. U. Campus)
*Every Tuesday *This Wednesday

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