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Jean-Luc Ponty - Individual Choice CD (album) cover


Jean-Luc Ponty

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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5 stars This album was my first experience with the sound of Jean-Luc Ponty, when I had 15 years old in 1994. There's no doubt the high quality of this album!!!! Here, the eletronic music was perfect with a modern jazz and the creative force was strong!!! Congratulations, Mister Ponty!!!! "Individual Choice" it a Masterpiece!!!! Five Stars...


Report this review (#93735)
Posted Sunday, October 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Mr Ponty is Now Going Individual .

Having been totally satisfied with his previous album "Mystical Adventures", I would had expected something much better album. What I got was something excellent but less dynamic musically than the previous one. Not only that, in total album package this one is less superior than "Mystical Adventures". As a music customer, am I wrong? Well, you know it my friends that in any business, the customer is king and the customer demands and needs are ever increasing. This applied to me when I purchased "Individual Choice" before I had a chance to spin it. My first impression, I was just a bit disappointed because the art work was not as fantastic as "Mystical Adventures". I don't mean that his face is terrible (in fact he is handsome!); but how come you have wonderful music but you just put your face as album cover? It's artistically wrong, Mr. Ponty. I was still okay with "Enigmatic Ocean" because by that time there was not such thing as "Mystical Adventures" or "Cosmic Messenger" coming out in the market. OK, whatever the case, I accept it because as the name of the album implies, I respect your "individual" decision. So Mr Ponty is going individual now. Let's see how the music sounds ..

The album kicks off with "Computer Incantations for World Peace" (5:40) which sounds to me the modernization of Ponty music with some sorts of programming, using synthesizer which he plays by himself. It's an individual choice, off course. What I hear here is the sounds of synthesizer in preprogrammed rhythm section, accompanying the violin solo. "Far from the Beaten Paths" (5:58) is my favorite track with great violin solo on top of music that is dominated with bass sounds and continuous flow of rhythm section. It reminds me to Ponty's "Mirage". Other tracks like "In Spiritual Love" (7:00) and "In Spite of All" (5:57) demonstrate how Ponty is a virtuoso composer as well as violin player. I also love "Eulogy to Oscar Romero" (2:34) and "Nostalgia" (5:00). To my surprise, "Individual Choice" (4:56) is not I thought that is gonna be a long violin solo without music. In fact this track can be said as the most dynamic of this album in terms of changes of styles etc.

At album level, I can only say that this album explores further on Ponty's violin virtuosity through many solo in almost each song - compared to previous albums like "Enigmatic Ocean" with many soloists. Allan Holdsworth only contributes two tracks "Nostalgia" and "In Spite Of All". At this album Ponty does not give a lot of chance for other soloists than what he performs. It's OK, as this is an INDIVIDUAL CHOICE.

Overall, I consider this album still as an excellent addition to any prog music collection. For me personally, this is not the best albums by Ponty. I would go for "Enigmatic Ocean", "Mystical Adventures", or "Cosmic Messenger" than this one. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#97944)
Posted Thursday, November 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ah, more funky, techno-fusion from Jean-Luc. Will he ever seize to amaze?

This record was one of my TOP favorites during an era where I found myself immersed in college studies and during a time when life-changing decisions were thrust upon me. It also happens to be one of the albums my wife and I really dug while we were dating. So, for me to say that this is just "another album" would be very far from the truth. Individual Choice is VERY special to me.

It's quite evident that at the point that JLP composed and recorded the music on Individual Choice he was completely immersed in electronic music. It's fair to say that this album sounds a LOT like a Jean Michel Jarre record but with a violin as the solo instrument of choice. Some may argue that it's not completely original and that he borrowed here and there from Jarre. Even if that were the case, JLP pulls it off very elegantly and with his own personal stamp.

As for the songs, well, I will say this about ONE song in particular: In Spiritual Love. George Dukes's Mini-Moog solo on that cut is quite possibly ONE OF THE GREATEST keyboard solos EVER. The foundation is set by JLP's funky, slow tempo, synth sequence and about 1/3 of the way through Duke slowly builds his solo to a point where it gets pretty darn hard to hold back a tear. It's THAT GOOD. The album is worth the price of purchase JUST for that tune. No kidding!

Ah, but I forgot about another musician on the album......Allan Holdsworth. The guitarist plays on two songs but I don't find his playing inspired or inspiring. Sure, he does his legato thing with a bit more bite and distortion than normal Holdsworth fare, but overall it's not very impressive or memorable. He's done MUCH better than this. But, to be be fair Allan's set the bar so high that we tend to expect miracles from him every time he appears on an album. So it's all good with Holdsworth on this album.

After twenty five years have passed since my first listen I can now find a bit more fault with this album. First off, it suffers from filler material in several places and it's quite blatant too. Seems that this was a quick project for JLP(he released the masterpiece Mystical Adventure a year earlier) and it's easy to see by the sparse instrumentation and production that he was trying to finish the record asap. This is not to say that it's a bad record, because it's not. It's actually very good. Just NOT GREAT.

It's impossible, for me at least, to give ANY JLP album less than four stars. Reason being that the best moments of any JLP record are usually so good that they completely eclipse anything else that may be negative throughout the album.

This is a FOUR STAR effort by JLP and should be enjoyed by proggers who don't mind a bit of Euro electronica mixed in with their prog.

Report this review (#251902)
Posted Friday, November 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The beginning of the downward spiral that Jean-Luc had after peaking with that incredible run of albums from 1975 (post Mahavishnu Orchestra) through 1984. Still a very good album--with truly incredible performances from Ponty, Allan Holdsworth, George Duke, Randy Jackson, and Ray Griffin, but something is missing . . . something cohesive and human--this despite the very emotional tribute to Oscar Romero and the awesome synth-violin "duet" on "Computer Incantations for World Peace." Most of J-L's previous albums had a kind of warm, engaging continuity to them--and maybe a better feeling of whole-band gelling. Again, I loved this album when it came out and felt little or no connection to the next one, Open Mind. Maybe it was just me--as I was moving into different directions musically (though Metheny was still at the center of my world . . . ) It took Rites of Strings for me to reengage with J-L (and Al Di and Stanley). No doubt that Ponty and company are all virtuosi of their instruments. And mysterious axeman Holdsworth has one of his better (i.e., more accessible and engaging) outings here. Check it out!
Report this review (#1324165)
Posted Sunday, December 14, 2014 | Review Permalink

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