Frank Zappa & Jean-Luc Ponty
Festival de Valbonne
July 25th, 1970
source: audience recording
1. tuning up (1:21)
2. jam 1 (16:04)
3. King Kong (17:22)
4. jam 2 (8:09)
5. jam 3 (3:40)
Frank Zappa - guitar
Jean-Luc Ponty - violin
Alby Cullaz - bass
Aldo Romano - drums
The Valbonne festival was organised by Claude Rousseau, who had organised the Bourget festival (near Paris) the previous March.
The programme, as announced in late June, was as follows :
July 23rd : Iron Butterfly, Warm Dust, Swegas & Moving Gelatine Plates
July 24th : Gong, Brigitte Fontaine, Amon Duul II & Red Noise
July 25th : Zappa/Ponty, King Harvest & Ame Son
It seemed like it was going to be a great Summer for lovers of rock music, with no less than three major festivals announced in the South of France for late July and early August : in addition to Valbonne, there was another one in Aix-en-Provence on August 1st-3rd, organised by trendy fashion designer Jean Bouquin, as well as the follow-up to the 1969 Amougies festival by Jean Karakos, in Biot, beginning on August 5th.
However, around mid July it all went wrong : all three festivals were banned by the authorities, who used the risk of forest fires as an excuse. In the event, they did go ahead, but in this pre-Internet age lack of reliable information ensured that attendance was well below expectations, and that the promoters lost a lot of money. Many bands weren't paid or refused to play, and in the case of Biot the event ended prematurely, degenerating into a riot.
The Zappa/Ponty jam was expected to be the highlight of Valbonne. However it didn't turn out quite as planned either. According to Ponty, Zappa was supposed to come with the new incarnation of the Mothers of Invention, but turned up on his own, Amougies-style ! A pick-up band had to be assembled at short notice, and the duo ended up sharing the stage with two noted French jazz players, drummer Aldo Romano and bassist Alby Cullaz.
As far as I know, this is the first time this performance has been heard since the event. Once again, we have the intrepid JJB to thank for preserving the moment for posterity. Amougies was the beginning of his taping exploits; Valbonne was the end - and what an end it was !