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Jean-Luc Ponty

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Jean-Luc Ponty Aurora album cover
3.80 | 103 ratings | 8 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Is Once Enough? (4:52)
2. Renaissance (5:45)
3. Aurora, Pt. 1 (2:45)
4. Aurora, Pt. 2 (6:11)
5. Passenger Of The Dark (4:14)
6. Lost Forest (5:23)
7. Between You And Me (5:54)
8. Waking Dream (2:24)

Total Time: 37:28

Line-up / Musicians

- Jean-Luc Ponty / acoustic & electric violins, Violectra, autoharp, arranger & producer

- Daryl Stuermer / acoustic & electric guitars
- Patrice Rushen / acoustic & electric pianos, synthesizer
- Tom Fowler / bass
- Norman Fearrington / drums, percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Phil A. Ceccola (photo)

LP Atlantic ‎- SD 18163 (1976, US)

CD Wounded Bird Records ‎- WOU 8163 (2006, US)

Thanks to ivan_2068 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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JEAN-LUC PONTY Aurora ratings distribution

(103 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(57%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

JEAN-LUC PONTY Aurora reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars It was June 1991 and was in Miami for business, but it was the chance for a Peruvian to buy his first CD player, and having some money to spare (because I was hosted on an aunt's house) decided to buy at least 40 Cd's. But living in a country were Prog' was almost unknown, the record stores were like toy land for a kid, there was so much to buy, so decided to explore unknown musicians (at least by me).

I had heard comments about Jean-Luc Ponty and knew about his work with Mahavishnu Orchestra, so I asked the clerk about him. Luckily he was a proghead and told me to buy "Aurora" and if after that I still liked his music, I should get more stuff, so I followed his advice.

That night I listened the CD and was incredibly surprised, Fusion was never my favorite genre but this album was impressive, the amazing music of Jean-Luc was closer to Symphonic Prog than I ever could imagine, his style and skills are simply outstanding, delicate and strong at the same time, perfectly supported by a group of talented musicians that included Darryl Stuermer.

The album starts with the extreme violence and energy of "Is Once Enough", in this song despite the clear talent of Ponty, the real star is Patrice Rushen on keyboards, who not only supports the violin of Ponty but takes almost the lead role with her perfect style and sound. Darryl does also a great semi solo that proves he's one of the best Jazz guitar players and should never waste his time and talent with the declining Genesis of the 80's and 90's.

"Renaissance" is a calmed track made specially by and for Jean-Luc Ponty, his incredibly beautiful violin is perfectly supported by the soft and could say atmospheric drumming of Norman Ferrington, a good change of speed after the breathtaking opener.

Of course "la piece de resistance" is "Aurora" which is divided in two parts, the first one flows gently, even when you can perfectly listen all the band, the strong and distinctive sound of Ponty's violin is the star.

"Aurora" Pt 2 is more rhythmic and a better chance for the rest of the band to prove their skills, impressive bass playing by Tom Fowler taking the lead with Ponty, not as beautiful as the first part but still a perfect complement. The violin solo in the middle is outstanding.

"Passenger of the Dark" is as it's name describes more obscure and atmospheric than the previous tracks, basically is a violin solo supported by the rest of the band and a very strong guitar by Stuermer, again I wonder why Daryl didn't made all his career playing Fusion when he clearly feels more comfortable in this genre.

"Lost Forest" is in the same vein as the previous track, the dark atmospheres are preeminent over the solos and as the song develops it's clear that Jean-Luc Ponty is a fusion musician but can't leave behind his classical formation and clear Symphonic influences, something that makes his music even richer. Again Patrice Rushen is brilliant with her soft keyboards and piano, excellent song.

"Between You and Me" is weaker in comparison with all the previous material, closer to pure jazz than the rest of the songs, the band falls in the common mistake of the jazz players giving more importance to improvisation than to melody and structure, not bad but weaker.

"Waking Dream" is a very good closer, again atmospheric and melodic, returning to a more eclectic style than to clear Jazz Fusion, mysterious and dark, somehow haunting and incredibly beautiful, maybe too short, but it's said that a good musician always leaves the listener asking for more rather than tired of endless songs.

The next day I bought 4 more Jean-Luc Ponty albums because my first encounter with his solo work couldn't be better..

5 solid stars for the one of the best Jean-Luc Ponty solo albums, an unusually high rating for a proghead not too close to Fusion, but when something is great, we can't deny it.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This record contains fusion music. Most of the tracks are not really fast and the amateur of virtuosos exhibition will be eventually disappointed. Actually, the musicians seem here to take it easy, and the compositions retain less my attention. It sounds in fact a bit like deja vu. The interesting & faster "Is once enough?", sounds a bit like the Zappa's 70's with all the fast keyboards a la George Duke: you guess that those musicians are really talented, although they do not totally show their potential on this record. With this album, we feel Jean-Luc Ponty begins to build his trademark sound of the 70's. The keyboardist is actually a young black female named Patrice Rushen, who really adopts a style approaching the George Duke's one. The only weak thing is the Daryl Stuermer's BLAND & DULL electric guitar sound: thanks God his rather discreet electric guitar does not take too much room.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Review by Guillermo
4 stars This album was bought by one of my brothers in 1981. It seems that he didn`t like it, because I found it "almost new" when I listened to it for the first time some weeks later. I had the curiosity to listen to this album because in the back cover guitarist Darryl Stuermer appears in the credits. At that time, I bought Phil Collins`"Face Value" album, and I knew that Darryl (or Daryl) played the guitars in that album, and I also saw a poster in a record shop where he appeared playing in concert with Genesis. It was until 1982, when I bought Genesis ` "Three Sides Live" album that I finally listened to him playing with Genesis in concert. But I also had the curiosity to listen to this "Aurora" album because I read reviews in some magazines about some Ponty`s albums which were positive about his music, and I also was "discovering" Jazz-Rock / Fusion music after I bought Bill Bruford`s "Feels Good to Me" album, also in 1981.

It took me several times of listening to this "Aurora" album before I appreciated how good it is. "Is Once Enough?" is one of the heaviest songs in the album, showing the interaction of the playing of Ponty, Stuermer and Patrice Rushen."Renaissance" is slower, with the use of a bit of auto-harp by Ponty and fine drumming by Norman Fearrington.The title song, "Aurora" is divided in two parts. The first is like an introduction to Part Two, which has some solos by Ponty, Stuermer and Rushen, and maybe some improvisation too. The end of Part Two re-uses the main melody of Part One. Side Two of the old L.P. is better, IMO. "Passenger in the Dark" is also a bit "heavy" and faster, with good guitar by Stuermer. "Lost Forest" is more "jazzy", with great use of the cymbals by Fearrington and acoustic guitar by Stuermer. My favourite song from this album is "Between You and Me", with a very good electric piano melody, good solos by Ponty and Rushen. I consider Patrice Rushen a very good musician, playing with feeling in this song in particular.I have never listened to her as soloist, but I know that she had some hits as soloist playing a mixture of Rhythm and Blues, Jazz, Soul and even some Disco music.

The less interesting song in this album for me is "Waking Dream", played without drums and with "strange sounds" to my ears.

I agree with some people who says that Stuermer is better playing Jazz-Rock / Fusion music, but I also think that he contributed very good things, mainly playing the guitar, while he played with Genesis on tour. Unfortunately, he was increasingly relegated to play the bass after the "Abacab tour". But he also showed that he is a good bassist.

In conclusion, I can say that this "Aurora" album is very good for the followers of Jazz-Rock / Fusion music, very typical in sound, IMO, of the mid-seventies Jazz-Rock/ Fusion music.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

As mentioned in my other reviews of Ponty's albums of the mid to late 70's, once you have one, it is a bit like you have them all. Not that there are no difference between the albums and that some are better than others (but this will come down to private colours and tastes), but unless an absolute fan, you will recognize Ponty's work fairly easily, but will not be likely to know to which album you are listening to, as one gets definitely the feeling they are interchangeable. This remark is valid on the long run of the albums streak, but this album along with Upon The Wings Of Music were the album that served as blueprints for the later ones.

So when all albums from that period are even quality, I will generally refer to the earlier ones (such as here) for my recommendation. Somehow after leaving Mahavishnu, Ponty still retains a certain taste for the ultra fast fusion that RTF or WR report are well known for, but to me , this second half of the 70's is much less interesting than the previous half decade on the jazz rock front. As a matter of fact, the quieter tracks (such as Renaissance, here) on his albums are somehow close to ECM label jazz-rock albums, with all the risks of being sometimes close elevator music (but let me tell you that if I hear Ponty in the elevator, I will stay in it until it is finished even if late ;-). Anyway among the highlights of the album is the two-part title track, Passenger Of The Dark (where future- Genesis Darryl Struemer shines on guitar) and Lost Forest

Hardly groundbreaking, this is the type of album that was made by the dozen per year around those years, and it will be entirely up to you to see if you really have space for more than two Ponty albums in your shelves. Should you have that extra space (knowing that you must reserve more for similar artistes), might I suggest that this be one of them? And if you must have only one of them, this would also be a good choice.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars JEAN LUC PONTY is a well-known violin virtuoso,who managed to establish himself as one of the major figures in the jazz/rock territory.Born in Avranches,France in 1942,he learned playing violin since his childhood,while he tend to love jazz music,as the years passed by.From 1964 and then PONTY released numerous jazz/rock albums,while he also worked with artists like Frank Zappa and Elton John and became a member of MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA in their second phase.In 1975,away from involving in side projects,the experienced PONTY signed with Atlantic and released one of his best albums ''Aurora''.

This release will bring you to mind the excellency of MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA,the skillful composing of BRAND X and the pleasant atmosphere of DIXIE DREGS.Of course ''Aurora'' is dominated by PONTY's superb violin work,ranging from smooth passages and parts with an intense mediterrenean flavor to countless solos,an example of PONTY's high skills and talent.His effort is supported by the distinctive electric pianos of Patrice Rushen,the electric solos and the acoustic delivery of current-''Genesis'' member Daryl Stuermer and the strong bass lines of Tom Fowler.Unlike MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA's sometimes highly emotional instrumentals,PONTY's work lies in the brighter side of life with a pleasant and melodic sound.This should appeal definitely to fans of jazz/rock music blended with progressive elements,as well as fans of the afore-mentioned bands.A nice and recommended release.

Review by The Quiet One
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.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This album holds a special place in my heart. If I ever have heart surgery, I'll have to remind the surgeon to watch out for it. Back in the seventies, for high school credit, I interned (along with another student) at a Boston NPR radio station. We would spend long hours in an engineering booth editing reel-to-reel tapes. There were two albums in the booth: this one, and The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band "Gorilla". We would alternate these albums during our breaks. We came to love them both.

As far as I'm concerned, this was one of Jean-Luc Ponty's best albums. His Zappa influence is more prominent than on any other of his albums, except "King Kong", obviously. It also helps to have Zappa bassist Tom Fowler on board. The compositions are complex. The band is exceptional.

While no track on the album is bad, the best is Passenger Of The Dark, where not only does Ponty shine, but guitarist Daryl Stuermer plays a blistering solo.

To me, this is THE Ponty album to own.

Latest members reviews

4 stars The first typical fusion effort in the Ponty vein although the previous album was quite close to it. First of Ponty's fusion gems and triumphs. Violin is obviously the trademark but all players have plenty of chops and there are many moments to enjoy. The first track is a tour-de-force, full of ... (read more)

Report this review (#2352290) | Posted by sgtpepper | Saturday, April 18, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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