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Jean-Luc Ponty - Enigmatic Ocean CD (album) cover


Jean-Luc Ponty


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.26 | 365 ratings

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The Quiet One
Prog Reviewer
5 stars An Ocean of Jazz Rock Delights

Enigmatic Ocean is not simply a solo work by grand violin player Jean-Luc Ponty, the album presents a whole band full of very talented and famous musicians from the jazz rock realm, each musician being as unique and as vital as Jean-Luc is for the music that Enigmatic Ocean offers, so it's definitely a group work rather than a solo work which I'm going to talk about.

First I'll talk about Allan Zavod, while not as reknown as any of the other members on board, his singular keyboard delivery is by every means one of the aspects that makes Enigmatic Ocean such an addictive and great jazz rock record. Zavod is the responsible of creating that marvellous floating atmosphere all through the album which no other jazz rock record features; Allan is indeed a subtle player but that's what makes his presence on the album so indispensable, Ponty didn't want an excentric keyboard player who could play extreme synth solos, he wanted someone that could pull-off a particular ambience to the whole album, while of course giving out some ocassional solos. Notable proof of Zavod's unique presence is the 12 minute suite entitled Enigmatic Ocean.

Then there's Ralphe Armstrong, member of the second line-up of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. His playing on this album is absolutely outstanding but foremost it's very on top of the mix making him also an essential part of the music. He delivers lots of frenetic funky-tinged bass lines which resonate all through the record, specially on The Struggle of the Turtle to the Sea Part 3 which features a solo by him!

To complete the rhythm section Ponty brought Steve Smith, a future reknown session drummer of both pop and jazz artists. His playing is steady and is very ala classic jazz rock, full of fast fills, but let's say he knows what to play when and why.

Then comes Allan Holdsworth, the so mighty jazz fusion guitarist of many famous jazz rock records. As he is known to do, he always standouts even if it's not he who leads the compositions. He delivers his unique tone everywhere within fast solos which are only to compete with Ponty's rapid and unstoppable violin soloing.

The only member left to talk about is of course the ''owner'' of this splendid record, that is Jean-Luc Ponty, member of plenty of jazz-related artists/bands. Like Holdsworth, he's also used to standing out in each recording he is featured in even when it's not he who is the composer, but this time he is the composer! Varying from melancholic notes to the rapid-paced ones while soloing with Allan which is truly mind-blowing; he is obviously indispensable for this integral work.

So Enigmatic Ocean is indeed a group-work, each member contributing their own touch and as a result creating a fantastic and unique jazz rock album which each member has space to standout. While Ponty is not recognised as a fusion innovator in terms of compositions, he actually plays it safe with grooves and soloing on top, the quality of these two elements is simply masterful plus it's distinguishably Ponty and you don't easily confuse it with other melodic fusion acts, and because of that it's a true masterpiece of collaboration between members. Essential to your Jazz Rock/Fusion collection and highly recommended for fans of any of the members on board, also Zappa fans might get a good kick out of this.

The Quiet One | 5/5 |


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