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JEAN-LUC PONTY

Jazz Rock/Fusion • France


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Jean-Luc Ponty biography
Born 29 September 1942 (Avranches, France)

JEAN-LUC PONTY isn't only a virtuoso violinist but also one of the greatest Fusion composers who blended different genres with great success and a pioneer of the electric violin, his solo works include very different albums as the brilliant and almost symphonic "Aurora" or the less inspired Afro Jazz oriented "Tchokola", in other words not only a prolific but also a very eclectic and talented Progressive musician.

JEAN-LUC PONTY started his violin studies at the age of five with his father who was Director of the school of music in Avranches and a violin teacher as well, at the age of 13 left school to fully dedicate to the music, later (At the age of 15) was admitted in the Paris Conservatoire graduating two years later with the institution's highest award, Premier Prix.

Being Classical trained, joined CONCERTS LAMOUREUX ORCHESTRA where due to the influence of some friends got interested in Jazz. Incredibly his first works in Jazz were done playing the tenor Saxophone until 1962 when he returned to his first love the violin.

1969 was an important year for the 27 old musician who joins Frank ZAPPA for the release of "Hot Rats" nd then THE George DUKE TRIO for about a year. In 1970 returns to France in order to form The JEAN-LUC PONTY EXPERIENCE until 1972 when comes back to USA to rejoin THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION.

In 1974 he's recruited BY JOHN MCLAUGHLIN'S MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA with whom he releases "Apocalypse" and "Visions of Emerald Beyond" playing a very important role in both albums.

Even though he made a lot of independent projects before (like "Jazz Long Playing" in 1964, "Sunday" Walk 1967 or "The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with the George Duke Trio" in 1969) plus combined efforts with STEPHANE GRAPPELLI and many others

His Progressive solo career starts in December 1975 with the first of four amazing releases, the incredible "Aurora" an album in which he blends perfectly not only Jazz and Progressive Rock as most Fusion artists do, but also adds clear touches of Symphonic Progressive mostly echoes from his early and complete Classical formation, a real gem that everybody should have.

During the next three years he completes his essential tetralogy that includes not only the previously mentioned "Aurora", ...
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Jean-Luc Ponty - Original Album SeriesJean-Luc Ponty - Original Album Series
Box set
original album series 2015
$10.50
$7.49 (used)
Gift of TimeGift of Time
Sony 1990
$27.49
$3.96 (used)
Open MindOpen Mind
Atlantic 1990
$74.99
$4.96 (used)
Enigmatic OceanEnigmatic Ocean
Atlantic 1990
$9.64
$7.90 (used)
Civilized EvilCivilized Evil
Atlantic 1990
$13.55
$4.84 (used)
FablesFables
Atlantic 1990
$41.40
$1.80 (used)
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JEAN-LUC PONTY discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

JEAN-LUC PONTY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.60 | 10 ratings
Jazz Long Playing
1964
3.90 | 10 ratings
More Than Meets The Ear
1968
3.91 | 11 ratings
Electric Connection
1969
3.93 | 56 ratings
King Kong - Jean-Luc Ponty Plays The Music Of Frank Zappa
1969
4.50 | 12 ratings
Ponty - Grappelli
1973
3.97 | 63 ratings
Upon The Wings Of Music
1975
3.78 | 84 ratings
Aurora
1976
3.64 | 107 ratings
Imaginary Voyage
1976
4.24 | 315 ratings
Enigmatic Ocean
1977
3.75 | 106 ratings
Cosmic Messenger
1979
3.77 | 54 ratings
A Taste For Passion
1979
3.65 | 58 ratings
Civilized Evil
1980
4.18 | 167 ratings
Mystical Adventures
1981
4.00 | 60 ratings
Individual Choice
1983
3.37 | 31 ratings
Open Mind
1984
3.67 | 42 ratings
Fables
1985
3.27 | 37 ratings
The Gift Of Time
1987
3.11 | 27 ratings
Storytelling
1989
2.59 | 27 ratings
Tchokola
1991
3.06 | 23 ratings
No Absolute Time
1992
3.18 | 19 ratings
Life Enigma
2001
3.25 | 18 ratings
Jean Luc Ponty & His Band: The Atacama Experience
2007

JEAN-LUC PONTY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.37 | 8 ratings
Violin-Summit
1967
3.55 | 17 ratings
The Jean Luc Ponty Experience - With The George Duke Trio [Aka: Live In Los Angeles]
1969
4.43 | 7 ratings
Live At Montreux 72
1972
4.04 | 40 ratings
Jean-Luc Ponty: Live
1979
3.80 | 5 ratings
Live at Donte's
1981
3.10 | 11 ratings
Live at Chene Park
1996
4.50 | 8 ratings
Live at Semper Opera
2002
3.80 | 5 ratings
Jean-Luc Ponty In Concert
2004

JEAN-LUC PONTY Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.50 | 6 ratings
Jean-Luc Ponty In Concert
2004

JEAN-LUC PONTY Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 3 ratings
Canteloupe Island
1976
0.00 | 0 ratings
Le Voyage - Anthology
1996
3.02 | 8 ratings
The Very Best of
2000
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best Of
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
Original Album Series Vol. 2
2016

JEAN-LUC PONTY Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

JEAN-LUC PONTY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Civilized Evil by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.65 | 58 ratings

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Civilized Evil
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I have heard quite a many albums by Jean-Luc Ponty (they all happen to be from the timeline 1978 - 1989), but have never before reviewed one. This is one of the five albums in the "Original Album Series Vol. 2" that I borrowed from library recently. As you may know, this French violinist-keyboardist-composer had played in Frank Zappa's band and in Mahavishnu Orchestra. A couple of years ago he made a collaborative album with Jon Anderson. He can be counted among the legendary musicians in the Fusion genre.

Ponty had at this point released so many strong albums that it's no wonder the All Music Guide reviewer writes "what was once fresh and musical has ossified into formula". It is true that many albums do sound quite similar in the end, but at least for me Civilized Evil turned out to be more enjoyable than some others. Easily more interesting than the previous studio album, more acoustically oriented A Taste for Passion (1979). Here the spacey and electronic elements -- comparable to Steve Hillage as Chris S points out -- blend very nicely with the jazz fusion virtuosity.

'Demagomania' has a funky groove and some fine synth soloing to save it from being mildly boring. 'In Case We Survive' has at first, and in the end, just electric piano/synths that sound very fresh, and conventional ensemble playing in between. 'Forms of Life' approaches New Age in some sense, without being that serene; the hypnotic violin work and the synth layers work brilliantly together. The A side of vinyl ends with good-spirited 'Peace Crusaders' which features Daryl Stuermer's guitar solo.

The latter half is a bit more uneven. The funk in 'Happy Robots' and 'Good Guys, Bad Guys' leaves me quite cold. The album as a whole feels vivant and... well, fresh! 'Once a Blue Planet' is a beautiful, moody ending. I'd place the album among the most recommendable ones for those Fusion listeners who enjoy also artists such as Steve Hillage or Ashra, even if it may not contain Ponty's finest achievements ever. 3˝ stars rounded up for the intriguing cover art.

 King Kong - Jean-Luc Ponty Plays The Music Of Frank Zappa by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.93 | 56 ratings

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King Kong - Jean-Luc Ponty Plays The Music Of Frank Zappa
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by WFV

4 stars This collaboration feels natural from the first note to the last. Zappa's personality shines through of course but Jean Luc Ponty plays a great second fiddle. There's a few Mothers songs but the real winners are How Would You Like a Head Like That and Music for Electric Violin and Low Budget Orchestra. A must for the Zappa fan and the Ponty fans, a curiosity for the uninitiated. Ponty plays fusion leader for the first time, and while I do find his instrument too shrill from time to time, he's obviously a virtuoso of the highest order so listening is still fun for me. I love this album because it is a true left field entry into the Zappa oeuvre and Music for Electric Violin and Low Budget Orchestra helped bridge my interest in orchestral and classical music. I would consider this an early fusion classic and an album I'm guessing John McLaughlin listened over and over
 Enigmatic Ocean by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.24 | 315 ratings

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Enigmatic Ocean
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by MaxnEmmy

5 stars Having Allan Holdsworth on this outing makes the recording very special. Allan may be considered one of the greatest electronic fusion players that ever lived. He had a John Coltrane approach to the guitar and played legato in his own unique style with a "sheet of sound". Pairing him with the great JLP on violin is incredible for jazz fusion and they communicate very well together. This type of jazz may not be pleasing to purists who don't like "electronic" jazz but for someone growing up in the 70's and hearing this type of virtuosity made a great impression on this listener.
 Tchokola by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.59 | 27 ratings

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Tchokola
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Anon-E-Mouse

2 stars An experiment that leaves Ponty neither here, nor there as the missing link remains missing.

It's hardly a surprise that a Jazz artist makes an effort to connect with the roots of Jazz by engaging traditional African elements. My first impression was that this full vocals release may have been inspired by the odd vocal experiment found on the quite good Weather Report album "Procession". But whereas the W.R. tune works well, here Ponty goes into absolute overkill, perhaps ignoring that Jazz came to be via the Blues by African-Americans and not directly from Africa.

This album of traditional sounding African songs where Ponty appears to be guesting only seems to miss the mark of establishing the bridge between traditional and modern approaches to music. The songs are rather plain and not very rhythmic either (Manfred Mann does it better). Lightning fast runs on the electric violin are technically brilliant, but the whole concept appears to be a mismatch. Chances are that with repeated listening this work may grow on one over some time - but life is too short to spend on struggling with a weak album. 2.5 stars at most.

 Jean Luc Ponty & His Band: The Atacama Experience by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.25 | 18 ratings

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Jean Luc Ponty & His Band: The Atacama Experience
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Anon-E-Mouse

3 stars When you played all notes on the violin and as fast as physically possible for that many decades, what's more left to do?

This album has a very Retro feel to it as if Ponty had returned to earliest roots of Jazz, Swing approach of about 45 years ago. But there are no fireworks here, no impossible gyrations on the violin this time, only surprisingly laid back, unhurried notes.

It's not for me to speculate if Ponty grew tired, or have only opted for some nostalgia. Suffice to say, it's a pleasant enough, but not very strong release. No trace of epic suites, groundbreaking improvisations, or any obvious highligths, but still a nice listen if you relate to the style represented here. The one exception is "Point of no return", the only track with Holdsworth guesting and his fluid licks on the guitar are as pleasant as always..

 Enigmatic Ocean by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.24 | 315 ratings

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Enigmatic Ocean
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Anon-E-Mouse

5 stars It was long overdue to dust off the jewel case on a timeless classic that has aged well and sounds as good as it did decades ago.

Ponty has a reputation of someone who is difficult to get along with. On top of that, I am not particularly mad about violins in general, although I do admire the Mahavishnu Orchestra, but not necessarily for the violins alone. But Ponty makes his instrument not only engaging, but almost indispensable in modern Jazz.

A brilliant soloist, composer, what sets him apart from some (Jan Akkerman springs to mind) that he is also a great arranger who brings out the best from the other musicians. The end result is that the works sound like a collective effort by a band and not like star musician with a backup crew of hired hands.

"Enigmatic Ocean" is a well-rounded, all instrumental album, fully in the Jazz-Rock territory. Not too heavy, not too light and with a right balance of great solos by all involved, some lyrical interludes in-between powerful, driving material. Highly recommended as one of Ponty's better works. (Yep, Allan Holdsworth is also part of this crew!)

 Enigmatic Ocean by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.24 | 315 ratings

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Enigmatic Ocean
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars 1977 sees Ponty moving to the production of albums in a prolific way.Zavod and Stuermer remain among his stable collaborators, but for the recordings of ''Enigmatic ocean'' he recruited also Fusion legend Allan Holdsworth on lead guitar plus he had a new rhythm section, now comprised of ex-Mahavishnu Orchestra bandmate Ralphe Armstrong on bass and drummer Steve Smith, who later played with Focus and became a long-time Journey member.The album was recorded during the summer of 1977 and released again on Atlantic.

Despite all these Ponty albums being dominated by a violin-driven atmosphere and his love for Jazz, there are little details that mark each of his works as different from the previous one.This time his music had a strong dash of Funk, more particularly in the short instrumentals, plus he developed his efficiency on long compositions, presenting two pieces, each clocking at around 12 minutes long.So, tracks like ''The Trans-love express'' or ''Mirage'' are mostly played in a Fusion/Funk way with soft grooves, Ponty's always flashy violin solos and the occasional keyboard splash with synth and piano in evidence, creating a happy atmosphere with an ethereal vibe.Of course the self-titled track and ''The struggle of the turtle to the sea'' are more interesting and sophisticated in every way.''Enigmatic Ocean'' takes a step closer to the progressive realms, it has all these dramatic moods created by a progressive band without lacking the intense harmony always present in Ponty's albums.Mid-70's MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA are a good comparison for this 4-part mini suite, which is characterized by its furious rhythms and guitar/violin interplays, featuring lots of extremely virtuosic solos by Ponty, Holdsworth and Zavod.The standard funky echoes though are still popping up, making this a bit of an inconsistent effort.''The struggle of the turtle to the sea'' is propably the better of the two long tracks.While still displaying an obvious flair of Jazz Fusion, it also offers some of the most bombastic atmospheres on a Ponty album and plenty of proggy vibes.Again some funky lines are added for good measure during the third part, but the first two are excellent examples of Prog Fusion, very pompous, professional and dramatic instrumental music with the star of Holdsworth shining through and Zavod making one of his most convincing performances ever.

Solid Jazz Fusion, a bit held down by the mass of period Funk appearing in the process.It's still very competitive, intricate and at times fascinating instrumental stuff with the standard violin washes of Ponty.Recommended.

 Individual Choice by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 1983
4.00 | 60 ratings

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Individual Choice
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator 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!
 Mystical Adventures by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 1981
4.18 | 167 ratings

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Mystical Adventures
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I must admit I was really surprised to see this album with the exact same rating as "Enigmatic Ocean" which Ponty released four years earlier. Of course my rating is going to drop this down but in my opinion "Mystical Adventures" isn't even close to being as good as "Enigmatic Ocean", although even on the RYM site they have them close in ratings. I'm in agreement with the Gnosis site though which has this rated significantly lower than what most feel is Ponty's best album. Yes i've played this longer than normal wondering if it would eventually click with me but I just don't enjoy this a whole lot.

Things start off really well though with "Mystical Adventures Pt. 1" where we get a surprising electronic vibe going on while the violin eventually comes in over top in a relaxed manner. My favourite track right here. I just really enjoy the vibe here. A deep atmosphere is added before 3 minutes which is excellent. "Mystical Adventures Pt. 2" is laid back and enjoyable. They kick it up a notch a minute in with drums and violin being added. The violin becomes prominant then we get some marching styled drums later. "Mystical Adventures Pt. 3" opens with drums and violin then it builds. A good groove arrives around a minute then the guitar starts to solo over top. This is my favourite part of the album just not my favourite track overall. Love the guitar though. "Mystical Adventures Pt. 4" is less than a minute long but it's quite dreamy and relaxing. "Mystical Adventures Pt. 5" continues with some atmosphere and I like it. Keyboards and deep sounds help out. The violin after 2 minutes doesn't do a lot for me though and this will continue the rest of the way.

"Rhythms Of Hope" is more uptempo but i'm not liking it at all as the violin plays over top. Some nice bass here though from non other than Randy(Dog) Jackson the American Idol judge. "As" opens with what sounds like synths pulsating then it picks up with violin and what sounds like processed vocals. It's okay. "Final Truth Pt. 1" is more of the same really but I do like it. Lots of piano before 2 minutes and the bass is prominant as the violin will come and go on this one. "Final Truth Pt. 2" is much shorter than part one at just over 2 minutes and we get what sounds like pulsating synths here as the violin joins in. I like the drum work after a minute. Good tune as it's more dynamic than most of the other tracks. "Jig" ends the album as we get some uptempo violin over the percussion. It does get fuller. Again i'm not big on the violin that settles in after a minute.

Sorry to all the fans of this one but i'm just that into this. Sure there's no Allan Holdsworth on guitar or Steve Smith on drums like on "Enigmatic Ocean" but that's not the problem for me, I just find this uninspired, especially the constant violin playing what sounds like the same melody throughout.

 A Taste For Passion by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.77 | 54 ratings

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A Taste For Passion
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

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

Thanks to ivan_2068 for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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