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JEAN-LUC PONTY

Jazz Rock/Fusion • France


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Jean-Luc Ponty biography
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 was born in Avranches France on September 29,1942 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", but also "Imaginary Voyage", "Enigmatic Ocean" and "Cosmic Messenger", also transcendental for the history of Progressive Rock.

From that po...
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Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Frank Zappa Jean Luc Ponty King Kong Near Mint Rare LP US $58.98 [0 bids]
46m 5s
Jean-Luc Ponty . Live At Montreux . 1976 . EX . Inner City IC 1003 . 12" LP Jazz US $3.00 [0 bids]
1h 2m
Jean Luc Ponty 2 LP 12" Blue Note ReIssue Series Jazz 33 RPM 1976 NM/NM Post Bop US $15.00 [0 bids]
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1h 17m
JEAN-LUC PONTY, ENIGMATIC OCEAN, LP, 1977, FREE SHIPPING! US $5.45 [0 bids]
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Rite of Strings - STAN CLARK, AL DIMEOLA, JEAN-LUC PONTY (CD 1995 IRS Records) US $10.56 [4 bids]
1h 58m
Jean-Luc Ponty Record "Aurora" 1976 Atlantic Recording Corporation. US $9.99 [0 bids]
2h 37m
Jean-Luc Ponty Record "Civilized Evil" 1980 Atlantic Recording Co. US $9.99 [0 bids]
2h 38m
Jean-Luc Ponty Record "Fables" 1985 Atlantic Recording Corporation. US $9.99 [0 bids]
2h 38m
Jean-Luc Ponty Record "Imaginary Voyage" 1976 Atlantic Recording Corporation. US $9.99 [0 bids]
2h 38m
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Stephane Grappelli And Jean-Luc Ponty Record "Giants" 1980 P.A.U.S.A. Inc. US $9.99 [0 bids]
3h 22m
JEAN-LUC PONTY: OPEN MIND, 12" SINGLE, NM VINYL US $1.00 [0 bids]
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JEAN-LUC PONTY: IMAGINARY VOYAGE, 12" LP, EX VINYL US $1.00 [0 bids]
3h 30m
Stéphane Grappelli, Jean-Luc Ponty, Stuff Smith, Svend Asmussen ?-Violin Summit US $8.00 [0 bids]
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JEAN-LUC PONTY IMAGINARY VOYAGE VINYL LP US $10.61 Buy It Now 9h 30m
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JEAN-LUC PONTY Enigmatic Ocean LP OOP late-70's jazz fusion Daryl Stuermer US $2.99 Buy It Now 18h 25m
JEAN-LUC PONTY OPEN MIND RECORD ALBUM US $3.99 Buy It Now 18h 39m
JEAN-LUC PONTY LP RECORD, A TASTE FOR PASSION US $5.00 Buy It Now 19h 13m
Tchokola by Jean-Luc Ponty (CD, 1981 Sony) US $4.50 [0 bids]
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JEAN LUC PONTY UPON THE WINGS OF MUSIC VINYL LP SD18138 1975 JAZZ FUSION US $11.64 Buy It Now 22h 10m
The Best of Jean-Luc Ponty by Jean-Luc Ponty (CD, Dec-2009, Columbia (USA)) US $4.04 Buy It Now 23h 16m
JEAN-LUC PONTY rare INDIVIDUAL CHOICE import GERMAN CD US $20.49 Buy It Now 23h 50m
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JEAN LUC PONTY Sunday walk lp US $9.99 Buy It Now 1 day
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JEAN LUC PONTY~STEPHANE GRAPPELLI LP (France, America ) US $9.31 Buy It Now 1 day
JEAN-LUC PONTY - INDIVIDUAL CHOICE - ATLANTIC RECORDS LP US $8.50 Buy It Now 1 day
JEAN-LUC PONTY - OPEN MIND - ATLANTIC RECORDS LP US $8.50 Buy It Now 1 day
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JEAN-LUC PONTY civilized evil Lp RECORD 1980 US $9.75 Buy It Now 1 day
JEAN LUC PONTY Infinite Pursuit 12" Promo Vinyl Record PR 809 Atlantic 1985 US $9.99 Buy It Now 1 day
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JEAN-LUC PONTY, FABLES, ST-A-855759-SP STEREO LP; MINT/NEAR MINT,SHRINK US $1.99 [0 bids]
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JEAN-LUC PONTY, OPEN MIND, ST-A-845535-AR, 80185 STEREO LP; NEAR MINT,SHRINK US $1.49 [0 bids]
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JEAN-LUC PONTY, CIVILIZED EVIL, SD 16020 STEREO LP; EXCELLENT,SHRINK US $1.25 [0 bids]
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JEAN-LUC PONTY, AURORA, 19158 STEREO LP; EXCELLENT, ORIG.SLEEVE US $0.99 [0 bids]
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JEAN-LUC PONTY, MYSTICAL ADVENTURES, SD 19333 STEREO LP; NEAR MINT, ORIG.SLEEVE US $1.49 [0 bids]
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JEAN-LUC PONTY, INDIVIDUAL CHOICE, 80098-1 STEREO LP; NEAR MINT, ORIG.SLEEVE US $2.99 [0 bids]
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Freddie Hubbard, Jean-Luc Ponty, John Coltrane - SEALED U.S. PROMO cd - RARE! US $9.98 Buy It Now 2 days
Jean-Luc Ponty - Cosmic Messenger 1977 UK Vinyl LP - A1/B1 Matrix US $24.97 Buy It Now 2 days
JEAN-LUC PONTY: Enigmatic Ocean (Jazz & Blues Atlantic KSD-19110 Vinyl LP) US $7.00 Buy It Now 2 days
JEAN-LUC PONTY: Cosmic Messenger (Jazz & Blues Atlantic KSD-19189 Vinyl LP) US $5.00 Buy It Now 2 days
JEAN-LUC PONTY: Imaginary Voyage jazz vinyl US $9.00 Buy It Now 2 days
JEAN-LUC PONTY: A Taste For Passion (vinyl LP) US $14.00 Buy It Now 2 days
JEAN-LUC PONTY: Individual Choice (vinyl LP) US $15.00 Buy It Now 2 days
JEAN-LUC PONTY: Critic's Choice! (vinyl LP) US $15.00 Buy It Now 2 days
JEAN-LUC PONTY: More Than Meets The Ear (vinyl LP) US $15.00 Buy It Now 2 days

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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)

3.43 | 7 ratings
Jazz Long Playing
1964
3.80 | 5 ratings
More than Meets the Ear
1968
3.75 | 4 ratings
Electric Connection
1969
3.93 | 37 ratings
King Kong: Jean-Luc Ponty Plays the Music of Frank Zappa
1969
3.55 | 9 ratings
The Jean Luc Ponty Experience with the George Duke Trio
1969
5.00 | 1 ratings
Jean-Luc Ponty and Stephane Grappelli
1973
3.91 | 39 ratings
Upon The Wings Of Music
1975
3.75 | 50 ratings
Aurora
1975
3.57 | 73 ratings
Imaginary Voyage
1976
4.26 | 216 ratings
Enigmatic Ocean
1977
3.61 | 72 ratings
Cosmic Messenger
1979
3.73 | 36 ratings
A Taste for Passion
1979
3.51 | 32 ratings
Civilized Evil
1980
4.19 | 133 ratings
Mystical Adventures
1981
4.11 | 34 ratings
Individual Choice
1983
3.42 | 20 ratings
Open Mind
1984
3.66 | 26 ratings
Fables
1985
3.25 | 26 ratings
The Gift of Time
1987
3.09 | 17 ratings
Storytelling
1989
2.62 | 18 ratings
Tchokola
1991
3.04 | 15 ratings
No Absolute Time
1992
3.10 | 13 ratings
Life Enigma
2001
3.25 | 12 ratings
Jean Luc Ponty And His Band The Atacama Experience
2007

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

3.32 | 6 ratings
Jazz Violin Summit (with Stephane Grappelli and Stuff Smith)
1966
4.25 | 4 ratings
Live at Montreaux 72
1972
3.95 | 25 ratings
Jean-Luc Ponty: Live
1979
4.00 | 3 ratings
Live at Donte's
1981
3.09 | 9 ratings
Live at Chene Park
1996
4.40 | 5 ratings
Live at Semper Opera
2002
3.75 | 4 ratings
Jean-Luc Ponty In Concert
2004

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

3.51 | 5 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
3.00 | 5 ratings
The Very Best of
2000

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
 Mystical Adventures by PONTY, JEAN-LUC  album cover Studio Album, 1981
4.19 | 133 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.

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 A Taste for Passion by PONTY, JEAN-LUC  album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.73 | 36 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

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 Fables by PONTY, JEAN-LUC  album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.66 | 26 ratings

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Fables
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars It seems to me like early 80s was the time when musicians take turn on their music direction as many prog bands did it : Yes with 90125, Genesis with Abacab, King Crimson with Discipline and also Jean Luc Ponty with Individual Choices. For whatever reason - was it because of punk and new wave? I really don't know - the new direction in some ways to another were different with the era before it. Talking about Ponty, the previous album before direction change was Mystical Adventures that was released in 1981. And eversince "Individual Choice" was released in 1983, Ponty had entered new era of music making and sounds whereby he had injected the roles of computer programming to create rhythm section and some electric violin sounds. "Open Mind" in some extent creates another feeling for me personally in terms of style which is quite similar with its predecessor album "Individual Choice", so is the case with Fables which was released in 1985.

One thing for sure with Fables: I really love the sonic production quality : it's really excellent and I do enjoy spinning this album with analog tape (cassette) where the sound is really incredible especially when I play it on my vintage TANDBERG TCD 440 A. Whoooaaaa ... it's fantastic! I don't even bother to buy the CD as I am already satisfied to the fullest with the cassettes quality. "Infinite Pursuit" (5:58) is really a great opening track as it has energy and good Ponty work with his Zeta violin and synclavier and sequencer. The next track "Elephants in Love" (5:21) is exploratory in nature and I like the violin solo especially enjoying the sound from cassette tape. It moves nicely to "Radioactive Legacy" (6:16) and all in all they all seem to be in the same musical array as they share common style all over the album.

Obviously this is not the best JL Ponty album but it's worth collecting. It's probably I love cassette tape sound, my review about this album might be bias. But for sure, musically this is a good one. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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 The Gift of Time by PONTY, JEAN-LUC  album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.25 | 26 ratings

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The Gift of Time
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars From my personal music experience I found the music of Jean Luc Ponty through a cassette (Yess) that my brother owned titled "Cosmic Messenger" sometime in 1979 during my entry point at university. My first reaction was that the music really excellent especially on the harmony of organ, violin and basslines. Since then I always chased other albums by JLP like "Imaginary Voyage", "Enigmatic Ocean", "Mystical Adventures", "Individual Choice" and only lately I purchased the cassettes of "Open Mind", "Civilized Evil" and "The Gift of Time". It does not represent that I am a huge fan of JLP because he actually has produced many albums since his debut in 1964 through "Jazz Long Playing". Well, at first I did not actually consider him as a jazz player but the fact is like that.

Couple of days ago I only got the cassette tape of "The Gifft of Time" Yess version and it's my first time listening this album. The music is really different with what I have known so far about JLP through "Cosmic Messenger", "The Mystical Adventures" or "Enigmatic Ocean" but I do still enjoy the music. There is no track like "Rhythm of Hopes" right here but for sure I sill enjoy the violin work as well as some tight bass lines by Baron Browne whom I have never heard the name before but he plays very good here. My favorite is "Between Sean and Sky" which represents Ponty's jazz skills blended with some flavor of progressive music as well. As you might have predicted that Metamorphosis as the title implies has the kind of ambient music that sounds like explaining the metamorphosis process.

Other tracks that come into my attention are "Introspective Perception" and the title track "The Gift of Time". Both represent how Jean Luc Ponty expresses his skills in violin into the music rhythm section that flows nicely from start to end. There are no segments that represent drastic change in style and tempo like typical progressive music. However, this album is still recommended to those who love jazz-based music like this one.

Overall I can conclude that this album represents a well balanced music composition blending the jazz components with some progressive elements - even though nat that intensive. If you like violin music like Didier Lockwood etc, I think this album deserves your attention. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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 Jean-Luc Ponty: Live by PONTY, JEAN-LUC  album cover Live, 1979
3.95 | 25 ratings

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Jean-Luc Ponty: Live
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars In my opinion, there are some live albums which deserved to be released as double albums instead to be released only in one disc. This is the case with this album which was recorded in late 1978. I think that Ponty has made very good albums in his career, but I think that in the seventies he recorded his music which was more close to the Jazz Rock / Fusion style, from which he has been of the best musicians I have listened to. He always has recruited very good musicians for his band, and in this live album every musician plays very well, even having the opportunity to do some solo parts (with the exception of drummer Casey Scheverel, whose playing is particularly very good in "Imaginary Voyage Part IV" on which he uses two bass drums in his playing). I think that Ponty enjoys playing with very good musicians and he is not "selfish" as he gives them space to "shine" and some freedom to improvise. This is what I can hear in this album. "No Strings Attached" is a solo electric violin musical piece on which he used a lot of electronic effects. The album is full of energy, sometimes heavy and also with a lot of melodies . At the end of the CD, one wants to have a second live CD from this band, but unfortunately this is not the case. I hope that one day Ponty could release an expanded and remastered version of this very good live album which has a very good recording and mixing.

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 Imaginary Voyage by PONTY, JEAN-LUC  album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.57 | 73 ratings

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Imaginary Voyage
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars It was obvious that by mid-70's Ponty was searching for long-time collaborators so he could focus on a personal career.For his second album on Atlantic, besides Darryl Stuermer and Tom Fowler, he recruited new keyboardist Allan Zavod and drummer Mark Craney, who later had a brief involvement in the Jethro Tull line-up.''Imaginary voyage'' was recorded at the Kendun Studios in Burbank, California during the summer of 1976, before seeing the light the same year.

Ponty was already familiar with the American tradition, after so many years living and working in the USA, so the first part of this album even contains some Country flavors among the Classical workouts of Ponty and his violin.The style remains a pleasant and enjoyable Jazz/Fusion with very melodic violin drives and solos, still there is plenty of room for some nice synthesizers and electric piano.Some boogie grooves in the vein of THE DIXIE DREGS just strengthen the link between Ponty and his inspiration from the American way of living.The flipside of the LP is captured by the 20-min. all instrumental 4-part suite ''Imaginary voyage'' in an attempt by Ponty to come up with a composition having also proggy vibes among his typical Fusion stylings.This suite shows Ponty moving away from the Mahavishnu Orchestra-style of Jazz/Fusion for a more WEATHER REPORT-approach and is dominated by some incredible and dreamy synth solos, doubled by electric piano, while Stuermer's presence is more apparent in the last and longer part, offering tasteful jazzy guitar solos.Complex rhythms and tight interplays are also present, especially in the opening parts, in a track that maintains a rich and virtuosic delivery all the way.

Ponty begins to establish himself as a competetive composer alongside his undoubtful playing skills.A very good album of technical yet melodic Jazz/Fusion, characterized by series of smooth interplays and careful solos.Recommended.

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 Tchokola by PONTY, JEAN-LUC  album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.62 | 18 ratings

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Tchokola
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

2 stars By the time when Tchokola was released in 1991 , Jean Luc Ponty music was no longer very attractiv like few years before or a decade earlier, this album presents that afro jazz fusion with not many intresting moments, at least for me. I have nothing agains afro music, some of that music I like, but here in combination with jazz fusion elements doesn't come together very well for my ears. Only few piecs from here impress me, like Yéké Yéké or the title track who are very good, the violin of this master musicin sounds very well , the rest are forgetable for me, not bad but nothing to talk about either. So, one of the unintresting albums from Ponty career, with few captivating passages like some albums have from the past. 2.5 stars is best I can give to this release.

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 The Gift of Time by PONTY, JEAN-LUC  album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.25 | 26 ratings

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The Gift of Time
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars After a very succesful period in mid to late '70s and aswell in early '80s, this famous musician recorded in 1987 The gift of time. Well, even the album is quite ok, in perfect JLP tradition, is little pale in comparation with Mystical adventure for instance. The sound is in places very flat, but some compositions from here save the album to be just an ordinary album from that period , when most of the listners were towards hard/heavy. Pieces like New Resolutions, Between Sea and Sky or the title track are perfect examples of JLP jazz fusion smothness from that period. The violin is simple but well performed, the pieces are no longer very elaborated, but not simple for sure either.. The album has that '80 production, but is not a bad thing, is ok nothing more. The melodic lines are ok, the musicianship aswell ok, only that overall the album doesn't get to the greatness of Mystical or Enigmatic ocean. To me was a pleasent release, who desearves 3 stars easy, good but nothing really awesome.

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 Mystical Adventures by PONTY, JEAN-LUC  album cover Studio Album, 1981
4.19 | 133 ratings

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Mystical Adventures
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Jean Luc Ponty one of the major figures in jazz fusion world in last almost half century with a vast discography and long career always delight my ears. Mystical adventures from 1981 is among his better albums and for sure among the best in jazz fusion. The virtuosity of the musician is top notch but aswell he puts his heart and soul in every tune he compose and plays. This album together with Enigmatic ocean are my fac releases from him. THis is a very pleasent ride, where he shines on every piece, from the lenghty opening track Mystical Adventures Suite, who goes from smooth and elegant passages to more up tempo, the violin is proeminent and very solid all through out. I presonaly find little more intresting the rest of the pieces on athe album Rhythms of Hope, As or Jig are extremly well crafted and inventive, complex and complicated but never geting boring one second, he manage together with the rest of the musicians to create a very elaborated and pleasent album all the way. In the end a beautiful album that will pleases every serious jazz fusion fan and goes recommended for sure. 4 well desearved stars, excellent cover art aswell, remind me at first glance of Yes cover arts.

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 Enigmatic Ocean by PONTY, JEAN-LUC  album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.26 | 216 ratings

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Enigmatic Ocean
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars I have been reserving this review at great personal cost to my sanity which kept threatening me with shutdown. "Enigmatic Ocean" ranks as a perennial favorite in my top 10, and it will never waver away. This is music in its finest configuration and being a bass enthusiast, I cannot find a more glorious figure in 4 string Progland, Squire, Clarke and Levin be quiet! Ralphe Armstrong epitomizes what this devilish instrument should be played like in an instrumental setting, with a simple tone and a devastating technique that just hauls the rest down the highway! Fluid and explosive, funky and jazzy, deliberate and daring, Armstrong simply shines (I saw him live in red jumpers, he was bewitching in front of 60,000 witnesses opening for Supertramp in Montreal, way back when), bopping wildly in the process only to intensify the bond between body and mind. Truly exemplary throughout this splendid disc in particular, hence I suggest newbie fans to maximize their pleasure by listening mainly to the bass guitar as they explore this album the first time. What a ride you are in for, OMG! Hey, I have done so many times I never get sick of this puppy! A fusion-jazz-hybrid that simply cooks non-stop, fueling barely restrained passions, immense technical abilities and just groovin', baby! Swirling free-for-all is perhaps the best way to describe this genial music, it's positively upbeat and riveting!

Then, we get to the nasty stuff, with ex-Soft Machine guitarist Allen Holdsworth showing off his remarkable style, the man is sick with talent, going into oblique guitar tangents one couldn't even fathom, let alone reproduce. I caught myself a few times nervously gigging at his licks, head-spinning technique. Then having the audacity to let Ponty rip on the violin, it's just added gravy! Steve Smith of future Journey fame explains why he is so highly rated by both rock and jazz purists! The man shuffles instinctively and with brawn! The Aussie wizard Alan Zavod is perhaps the most underrated keyboard player in prog, the guy plays like no other with crisp and ornate coexisting on a variety of ivories and synths. Lastly, future Genesis guitarist Darryl Stuermer shows off his talent, a proper foil for the crazy Brit while he is soloing his brains out as if imprisoned inside a tornado.

"Overture" does exactly what the title implies, a proper table setting with a bright candle promptly lit, fine instrumental linen, a violin napkin and all the cutlery one could hope for. Shimmering and very much an awakening, the Ponty voyage begins, well-propelled and shiny. "The Trans-Love Express" gets things cranking, 'bedibeep' rhythm with the Stuermer guitars raging with a wicked solo and the soaring violin, this is where you notice Armstrong's bubbly undertone. It looms, dances and explodes all over the bass, sideways and ahead, a rare combination that the man pulls off with apparent impunity. This is so good, it's frightful! You follow up this rambler with his classic "Mirage", probably his most well-known tune and you just know the rest will be just a breeze of utter beauty. Shifting like the windswept dunes, the shiny rhythm just sways as if caressed by the gale, searing violins howling at the sun and warm rays of joy glimmer in every direction. Its sensual, bold and exciting, with tremendous ability to go around, Smith and Zavod just killing it in a sublime solo while Ponty and Armstrong add their own solid imprint on the psyche. This is just so unconceivably tasty music. Then we have the masterful 4 part opus, "Enignatic Ocean" remains Ponty's crowning achievement, never to be outdone later, a compelling 12 minute epic in the true sense of the word, a progressive rock approach to jazz that simply beefs it all up with spectacular sounds. I mean Part 2 is simply ridiculous, the speed and precision is beyond comprehension, easily surpassing the legendary Return to Forever's playing, this becomes solo-land with Ponty, Stuermer, Zavod and Holdsworth exchanging furious salvos, while the rhythm section keeps things at a blistering pace. Ridiculous! Then Part 3, revs up the funk as well as the experimentalism, with a tortured Holdsworth in full screeching regalia, only then will Jean-Luc unleash one for the ages. Need I say, Armstrong is blasting all over the low end with some dazzling runs, Smith holding up the artillery? Yeah, ridiculous and absurd! "Nostalgic Lady" is where things get a tad more classical jazz-rock, flush with resonating rhythms and that darn bass maniac/magician, channeling both Ponty and Holdsworth to even loftier heights , both pulling off masterful solos, two minds fused as one in pursuit of the aural nirvana. Words cannot give this piece justice, as its more sheer brilliance. 'Piece de resistance, mais oui mon cher Jean-Luc' is what we get with the over-the-top three part "The Struggle of the Turtle to the Sea" festival and you must be properly anesthetized because what's coming up now is, well?. Another dozen minutes or so of archetypal musical fusion with so much illustrious artistic expression on display, all seemingly effortless. The 3 part suite serves also as a platform for all out soloing, slithering playing by all highlighted by a masterful Zavod synth anguish (Part1) and Ponty's raging catscratcher, here a hollow body Barcus-Berry electric violin (on Part 2). But it's the final section that ultimately slays the beast with Ralphe's glorious solo (straightforward and with devices) which is just as exquisite as his "Egocentric Molecules" assault on the next "Cosmic Messenger" album, a screaming Stuermer volley followed by a Smith percussive spotlight. Who else but Holdsworth to put the turtle in the water, free at last?!

This album is a must have, you have no worthy collection if this one isn't on the mantle. It's currently sitting comfortably in my # 3 spot.

5 Puzzling Seas

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