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Jean-Luc Ponty

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Jean-Luc Ponty A Taste For Passion album cover
3.78 | 70 ratings | 6 reviews | 13% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1979

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Stay With Me (5:35)
2. Sunset Drive (5:45)
3. Dreamy Eyes (4:18)
4. Beach Girl (4:56)
5. Taste For Passion (5:22)
6. Life Cycles (5:45)
7. Reminiscence (1:26)
8. Give Us A Chance (3:02)
9. Obsession (0:40)
10. Farewell (3:06)

Total Time 39:55

Line-up / Musicians

- Jean-Luc Ponty / violin, organ, acoustic & electric pianos, orchestration, producer

- Joaquin Lievano / acoustic & electric guitars, guitar synth
- Jamie Glaser / guitar
- Allan Zavod / keyboards, synth & programming
- Ralphe Armstrong / fretless bass
- Casey Scheuerell/ drums, percussion
- Allan Gelbard / synth programming

Releases information

Artwork: Gary Heery (photo)

LP Atlantic ‎- SD 19253 (1979, US)

CD Atlantic ‎- 19253-2 (1984, US)

Thanks to ivan_2068 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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JEAN-LUC PONTY A Taste For Passion ratings distribution

(70 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(13%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(51%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

JEAN-LUC PONTY A Taste For Passion reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album contains rather modern fusion music. There is a good balance here between the electric guitars and the electric violins. The very "bottom" BASS is absolutely OUTSTANDING: it is the same musician who wonderfully played the bass on the "Enigmatic Ocean" album: Ralphe Armstrong; the difference here is that he plays a fretless/Wal-like bass: it gives something very personal to this record: just hear this bass sound! How can you ask for more? It is often fast, VERY well played and VERY sophisticated. The "bottom" & loud drums do a very good job too. Daryl Stuermer no longer appears as the lead guitarist: I think the guitarists here have a better sound, being definitely more varied, modern and interesting. Ponty plays HIMSELF more modern keyboards and it fits well with the other instruments, featuring among others guitar synthesizers, which contribute to REALLY modernize Ponty's overall music & sound. This album can be completely listened with true pleasure because all the songs are very good. Like Anthony Phillips, Geddy Lee or Eddie Jobson, Ponty proves that he has nothing to envy from the great prog keyboardists, even if his more a violinist than a keyboardist.
Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Acoustic/electric album by Jean-Luc Ponty sounds surprisingly pleasant. Ponty plays not only electric violin, but electric piano and synths as well. Compositions are melodic, played with good technique and what is even more important - tastefully.

Don't expect any experiments there. But for year 1979 this album sounds modern and elegant at the same time, without being too much rounded and polished. The music is very accessible, but album still isn't one of this new-age or electro-pop clones from 80-s. Outstanding bass line - it's good enough reason to listen this albums because of this bass only, nice drumming - it is one from the albums which can attract non- prepared listener to jazz-rock pleasures.

Review by JLocke
4 stars Dreamy. Ethereal. Beautiful. These are the words that first spring to mind whenever I listen to A Taste for Passion by Jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. Not only is the music incredibly powerful and memorable, but the playing itself is magnificent. Ponty has a way with musical phrasing that allows him to experiment with a myriad of different styles and approaches, yet somehow make it all fit together like a perfectly-cut jigsaw puzzle. One moment you're being swept away by otherworldly, melodious pieces such as ''Stay With Me'' and the album;s title track, and the next minute you may find yourself grooving out to one of the album's Jazz- aimed masterworks such as the wonderful ''Sunset Drive''. There really isn't much to dislike here, unless you want to get picky and say that much too much musical ground is covered. Granted, it may have appealed to more people has the music stayed in one area for the most part, but then we wouldn't have the wonderful, eclectic masterpiece that we have today.

When I was a kid, my father had his vinyl copy of this record playing over the stereo (one of the very few Jazz-oriented albums he had in his massive collection, which otherwise consisted of a fairly even balance of Rock and Classical). I remember even then being quite mesmerized by the effect the music was having on me, so i sought out the album sleeve to learn more for myself. Imagine my surprise when what I discovered was an unshaven, slightly insane-looking man holding an electric violin and posing in a mischievous way. But ever since then, I began to grow more and more curious about the man and his music. Ultimately, I began seeking out his works on my own, and I now regard him as one of the masters of Jazz-Rock. He truly pushes music forward in a way few others seem capable of, and I never tire of his majority of work. Always something new and interesting to say via his musical genius, and this album is no exception. I think you're robbing yourself of one of the most special musical experiences of your life as long as this album remains out of your possession. It's one of Jean-Luc's best, and an absolute no-brainer as a place to start for newcomers.

4.5 Stars. May not be everyone's favorite Ponty album, but especially for newbies, I cannot recommend it enough.

Review by Tom Ozric
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.
Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Sometimes you have fans drool over a specific performer and you really don't see what all the fuss is about, until you go and investigate the case and then come to your own conclusions. Especially if it's in a live setting! This happened to me with bassist Ralphe Armstrong, whom I knew about with Mahavishnu Orchestra but never really delved any deeper (the MO bassists don't really get the elevated platform to propose their sound, buried under all that MacLaughlin jazz!). But I saw JL Ponty live at Jarry Park in Montreal in the early 80s, opening for Supertramp and Ralphe just blew me away, prancing joyously in his red jumpsuit! I remember going back home and diving deep into his work and paying particular attention to his style and sound. Needless to state, he remains one of my fave bassists ever. On "A Taste for Passion", he just grooves vividly, like a streaking fiery comet searing the sonic atmosphere, searing all the tracks with that trademark and iconic fretless Gibson Ripper bass that just blows me sideways. This from a very young lad (he joined MO as a 17 year-old unknown , beating out the legendary Jaco Pastorius for the bass stool!). I never really clicked with a "Taste for Passion", for 2 good reasons, first I could never get behind that hideous cover photo, arguably one of the least interesting examples of progressive artwork, a total icky turn-off and secondly, between Imaginary Voyage, Enigmatic Ocean, Cosmic Messenger and Mystical Adventures, it was kind of hard to add another glorious chapter to the Ponty pantheon.

Truth is, it's a delicious albeit mellower album, (I just prefer to imagine it with a different cover, something along the lines of Tangerine Dream's Rubycon) with superlative playing from all the musicians, especially Ralphe. But having two stylistically different guitarists is another major highlight as both the gentler Joaquin Lievano and the brasher Jamie Glaser supply a multitude of sounds, effects and tones that provide the jewels to Ponty's violin crown and Allan Zavod's keyboard scepter. If you think I maybe exaggerating the Ralphe Armstrong fawning, well check out his solo on the second track "Sunset Drive" and you will hear what I mean. Glaser adds a sexy solo to boot while the Ponty mobile drives forward on the LA freeway. JL adds his own two cents worth to stamp this as ultra-cool and dreamy stuff.

"Dreamy Eyes" is akin to the opener "Stay With Me", both typical atmospheric excursions that seep into the soul without bullying, I mean its jazz played with a strong sense of feeling and purpose, like some surrealistic pillow for the tired and groggy head! "Beach Girl" sounds uncannily like a voiceless Stealy Dan tune, complete with California breezing guitar picking from Joaquin, a sunny and tanned violin screech from Ponty while Ralphe and Casey hold down the sandy beat. Just when you think this material is too mellow, sucked in by the undulating piano, the electric guitar takes over as Lievano shows off some of his soloing ability, the drums kick wildly with some amazing fills and the master violin sears the sky on the effusive title track. On the complex "Life Cycles", its Glaser's turn to ratchet up the tension with some seriously tortured solos and a slippery synth solo from Zavod (perhaps the most underrated keysman in prog). JL then shows off his considerable talent, playing the violin like a fiddle, fast and hard. After a brief "Reminiscence" which has more classical overtones, "Give Us a Chance" is one of Ponty's typical numbers, buoyant, effortless and some thing more akin to his live performances of the time, a rumbling and devastating bass foraging wildly (he is sooooo good) , cymbals clashing with polyrhythmic fills and another Zavod ARP solo. "Farewell" is the Ponty au revoir , where a pulsating bass, funky drums and the violin coalesce as one to bid a fond goodbye to a wonderfully relaxing album. I think I am going to invite some friends over, light up the grill and play this album while sipping on some California Viognier. It's a beautiful day! 4 French strings

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album was still way before the change of music direction through Individual Choice album. So to say this album is very similar with Cosmic Messenger, the previous album. In terms of practical violin work there is not much different between thse two adjacent albums. The only thing is that the Cosmic Messenger is much dynamic than this one. But if you look at the title track "A Taste for Passion" the overall style of this track is almost exactly the same with its predecessor. In this track as well Ponty tried to switch his heavy dominance on violin to piano.

Jean-Luc Ponty, who started out as a straight jazz violinist only to become a pioneer of the electric violin in jazz-rock in the '70s and an inspired manipulator of sequencers and synthesizers in the '80s. So it can be seen actually that this album which was released in 1979 was in transition of his music direction. At first merely amplifying his violin in order to be heard, he switched over to electric violin and augmented it with devices that were associated with electric guitarists and keyboardists.

This is a very good album especially for those who love jazz-rock albums. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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