Prog has a curious way of throwing the odd curveball from time to time.
Let me explain. Do you recall earlier this year back – in March to be precise -when there was an announcement online about Jon Anderson getting together with session guitarist/producer Michael Lewis and jazz fusion violinist Jean-Luc Ponty to form a band under the banner of Inventioning?
What a wonderful name, I thought. It speaks of newness, development, forward motion and creativity, all of which are the true essence of prog if you think about it.
Michael and Jon had started collaborating in January 2007, writing and producing songs, the vision being to one day perform them live together.
Explained Michael: “ While producing Some People, a song I had co-written with Jon, I asked Jean-Luc Ponty to cut a violin track on it — which led to an offer from Jean-Luc’s management for Jon and I to do a U.S. and world tour along with Jean-Luc.
“I first raised the concept of the band with Jon while hanging out at his hotel during one of his visits to Seattle in 2012. But he was reluctant to get back into a band situation at that time.”
Again the subject was raised when Yes was nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year. Michael approached Jon again about touring with him and his group of Nashville players who had appeared on the recordings.
This time, Jon said he felt he was ready to tour again with a band, so arranged for him to meet Jean-Luc’s manager. Afterwards, the great man said: “We are a band” and Inventioning was created.
We travel forward in time to 25 July, just a few days after Yes unleash Heaven And Earth, their polarising new album on an unsuspecting world. There is another announcement. It is that Jon and Jean-Luc had formed their own new project launched as a Kickstarter campaign.
However, there was no mention in the statement about pulling out of Inventioning. I caught up online with Michael over the weekend to find out about his reaction to this. He said he knew what the new plans were including next month’s show in Colorado.
Very stoically, he told me: “Regardless of my own personal disappointments, I’ve tried to remain supportive and positive towards them.”
Instead of allowing any resentment to get in the way of his masterplan – which he is financing as well as co-founding, producing and playing on – he has let Inventioning continue to develop. That has included revisiting a number of songs he had co-written with Jon which were still at his studio in varying stages of evolution.
Inventioning is now way on the way to releasing its first album called Affirmation, an interesting twist bearing in mind the past history of his erstwhile collaborator. (Yours truly has occasionally referred to Yes as The Affirmatives). However, he is using the original musicians who worked on the other songs.
“There is a financial burden, but I’ve invested so much time and money; I’m not about to stop now! We’ve got the players in place and we plan to follow up the release with a series of tours next year,” Michael declares.
Two clips from the new project were revealed on 8.14.14. The first song, Walking Talking, will be available as a single on iTunes in the coming weeks: and what a beautiful song it is too.
It’s a throwback to the Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe era of 1989 but with a modern twist. The electronic opening is the perfect vehicle for the arrival of that timeless, angelic voice, sounding a little more fragile now, but the instrumentation including a rumbling bass, driving rhythm and swirling synth is totally simpatico. There are several hairs on the back of the neck moments including the moment the synth comes floating in, a close harmony section and a jazzy guitar solo. Does that all sound familiar? You will not be disappointed, believe me, but it does leave you wondering what might have been.
Michael, a lifelong Yes fan, who has been a session player and performer for more than 25 years, is carrying on with Inventioning playing guitar and keyboards.
With him are vocalist Bridgette Lewis who has performed RnB and Blues covers with Michael under the name One Street Over for a number of years. Bridgette sang the original demos that Michael produced for the project and is featured on background vocals when Jon is singing lead.
On drums , you will find Grammy Award-winning Nashville session pro, Brian Fullen and bass will be covered by acclaimed Nashville jazz-fusion bassist, Adam Nitti.
There has been no formal confirmation about who will be playing keyboard for Inventioning. Michael’s plan is to work with L.A. session keyboardist Alessandro Bertoni on a few tracks to see how they gel. Fortunately Bertoni shares Michael’s passion for Prog Rock, Jazz Fusion and the Hammond B3 so watch this space.
With or without Jon Anderson or Jean-Luc Ponty, it sounds as though Inventioning could be one of the next big Prog happenings, so keep a close eye on the website http://inventioningband.com/.
I certainly will be.