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Jean-Luc Ponty - Aurora CD (album) cover

AURORA

Jean-Luc Ponty

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.75 | 49 ratings

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The Quiet One
Prog Reviewer
4 stars A Beautiful Aurora from France

The trio of, Aurora, Imaginary Voyage and Enigmatic Ocean, for me is simply essential melodic fusion. While Engimatic Ocean is considered to be the peak of Ponty's songwriting and playing, having other masterful musicians on board like Allan Holdsworth and Ralphe Armstrong, Aurora is quite forgotten, with the presence of the overlooked Daryl Stuermer on guitar duties, playing some really good stuff, both in acoustic and electric.

The only notable difference between Aurora and the following two is that this album doesn't have the unique presence of Allan Zavod's floating keyboards and synths. Aurora, keyboard-wise, is based on the Rhodes and Piano, giving an overall classy sound to the album rather than a futuristic one that is clearly shown on Enigmatic Ocean. It is a subtle charm of course, but a charm it is, nonetheless, to have predominant Rhodes rather than Synths.

The album introduces itself, like Jean-Luc has always done, in a rapid and uncontrollable manner that it is hard for someone not to be fond of this type of entries. However, the rest of the album tends to have a calmer, though not less entertaining, mood. Clearly shown in the classic composition of Ponty called Renaissance, which the first time I heard this was when I went to see 'The Rite of Strings' formed by Ponty, Meola and Clarke, fantastic version, though the one from Aurora has a warmer feel due to Patrice's piano.

The Aurora suite which can be called the highlight of the album can easily be called the predecessor of the Imaginary Voyage suite which is clearly the predecessor of the Enigmatic Ocean suite, haha. The first part of Aurora is a romantic and chilling affair with slow-paced keyboards and a gentle moving violin. The second part, on the other hand, begins in a faster way full of engaging wah-wah and intricating violin; however the tempo later calms down but Ponty and Stuermer are still on fire delivering outstanding solos.

What this album might be missing is a bit of bite, since there's not really a lot of funk influences in here, there are not many grooves which are something you expect from Ponty. However, like I stated at the beginning, the charm of Aurora is pretty much that, that it is not the funky, futuristic, jazz fusion of the following albums, Aurora tends to be a more romantic and melancholic album as a whole.

Definitely 4 stars, a highly recommended safe jazz fusion album, and if you're a Ponty fan this is a must.

The Quiet One | 4/5 |

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