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Jean-Luc Ponty - A Taste for Passion CD (album) cover

A TASTE FOR PASSION

Jean-Luc Ponty

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.75 | 39 ratings

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Tom Ozric
Prog Reviewer
4 stars A picture tells a thousand words, and judging by this cover, they're not necessarily good ones. I think it's the main reason why many folks steer clear of this 1979 release, as its presentation doesn't suggest the beauty of the compositions here and technical mastery of the virtuoso violin player Jean-Luc Ponty. Backed by a group of exceptional musicians, song after song we are treated to quality Jazz-Fusion, produced and performed impeccably. The sound of the rhythm section (Ralphe Armstrong - fretless bass and Casey Scheuerell - drums) is full-on and tight, even if a few pieces here are very laid-back. The memorable opener 'Stay With Me' introduces the listener to a mesmerising keyboard-laden backdrop upon which we have a melodic lead guitar solo, followed by Ponty's hypnotic soloing, some rhythm guitars, light drums and bass filling out the sound. Two guitarists perform tasteful solos on various tracks, which always compliment the electric violin perfectly, at times seamlessly melding in from one another, most notable on the ethereal third track 'Dreamy Eyes'. The keyboarding is mostly taken care of by Allan Zavod, yet another amazing musician bursting with talent and technique, Ponty contibuting some e-piano and grand piano here and there. 'Sunset Drive' is a driving tune with a basic rhythm, but features a Pastorius-like bass solo from Armstrong early on, a jazzy guitar solo from Jamie Glaser as well as Ponty's violin. The simplicity of a song such as 'Beach Girl' is lifted by a great acoustic guitar solo from Joaquin Lievano, and as always, a fitting violin part. The title-track kicks off side 2, starting with solo piano, eventually becoming quite a heavy piece of prog-fusion with Armstrong's meaty bass, Scheuerell's punchy double- kick inserts and solid fills, and a shredding solo from Lievano, Ponty solos during the 2nd half - at this point, I don't think there is one solo of his I dislike. 'Life Cycles' offers plenty of tricky tempo changes during its initial stages, and a great performance from all concerned. Zavod plays a masterful ARP synth solo, the song then jumps into a very fast double-time feel with the violin solo. Ponty has a way of blending delicate textures with bombast on the brief 'Reminiscence', 'Give us A Chance' is more up-tempo and bouncy but a slightly 'standard' tune, 'Obsession' is an ultra-brief 40-second synth sequence fading in and out, and the final track, 'Farewell', is again a slightly lesser track, with a beat that nods at disco. Ponty definately finished the decade off tastefully with this album, as well as optimistically looking into the future. I think 'A Taste For Passion' slips in for the fourth star.
Tom Ozric | 4/5 |

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