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JEAN-LUC PONTY

Jazz Rock/Fusion • France


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Jean-Luc Ponty picture
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 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
3.92 | 12 ratings
Electric Connection
1969
3.93 | 59 ratings
King Kong - Jean-Luc Ponty Plays The Music Of Frank Zappa
1969
4.00 | 2 ratings
Jean-Luc Ponty Experience: Open Strings
1972
4.22 | 14 ratings
Ponty - Grappelli
1973
3.96 | 72 ratings
Upon The Wings Of Music
1975
3.80 | 95 ratings
Aurora
1976
3.67 | 118 ratings
Imaginary Voyage
1976
4.24 | 351 ratings
Enigmatic Ocean
1977
3.78 | 121 ratings
Cosmic Messenger
1978
3.77 | 62 ratings
A Taste For Passion
1979
3.61 | 66 ratings
Civilized Evil
1980
4.19 | 178 ratings
Mystical Adventures
1981
3.98 | 65 ratings
Individual Choice
1983
3.36 | 33 ratings
Open Mind
1984
3.64 | 44 ratings
Fables
1985
3.29 | 40 ratings
The Gift Of Time
1987
3.13 | 30 ratings
Storytelling
1989
2.58 | 28 ratings
Tchokola
1991
3.09 | 24 ratings
No Absolute Time
1992
3.16 | 19 ratings
Life Enigma
2001
3.25 | 19 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
4.50 | 8 ratings
Live At Montreux 72
1972
4.05 | 43 ratings
Jean-Luc Ponty: Live
1979
3.80 | 5 ratings
Live at Donte's
1981
3.12 | 11 ratings
Live at Chene Park
1996
4.50 | 8 ratings
Live at Semper Opera
2002
4.00 | 7 ratings
Jean-Luc Ponty In Concert
2004

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

3.55 | 9 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
5.00 | 3 ratings
Le Voyage - Anthology
1996
3.08 | 10 ratings
The Very Best of
2000
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Best Of
2002
5.00 | 2 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
3.61 | 66 ratings

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Civilized Evil
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars Quite a departure fromt the intensity and risk taking of previous works. I think there is no that much effort behind this album but it came lightly as Ponty and the band were still at the peak of their powers though getting to a safer region. Some tunes are memorable because of their melody and emotions rather than instrumental performance.

"Demagomania" has a nice violin motive and 80's simplified beat. "In case we survive" has a bit melancholic feeling and a more insteresting beat than the first track. "Forms of life" is a great atmospheric track driven by keyboards/violin and shows how easy it is for fusion masters to create such reflectve tracks after their soften the dynamic fusion speed. "Peace crusaders" is a first-rate fusion track with all instruments contributing heavily and originally - the same goes for "Shape up your mind" - these two tracks alone make it worth acquiring the album. The last track is again atmospheric and leaves a good impression of the Ponty being at crossroads.

 Cosmic Messenger by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.78 | 121 ratings

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Cosmic Messenger
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars The fourth highly acclaimed fusion album in a row albeit sometimes taking it more safely than previously. There are simpler tracks, parts but the group still plays very tightly and pulls it off for a dynamic ride sometimes. The bass and drumming remains stable, original and loud. Guitar is a bit more timid than at Stuermer and Holdsworth times, also less adventureous. The sound is a bit updated to reflect modern more streamlined fusion - examples are the first track and "The art of happiness". The third track takes us back to the recent days of glory when frenetic fusion ruled the fusion world. Excellent keyboard soloing and dynamic drumming. The chord progression is actually closer to progressive rock/Canterbury than fusion for which it is too simple. "Puppet;s dance" has a crazy irregular rhythm, maybe 6/8 but things won't calm down during "Fake paradise" that is just a great rhythm switcher between 4/4 and more complex ones. It's actually these two tracks that level up the rating to 4. In the absence of a suite, the last track should suffice - ambitious from the start till the end, with killer drumming and bass playing.

Even if compositions are less memorable than before, playing saves the 4-star mark.

 Enigmatic Ocean by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.24 | 351 ratings

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Enigmatic Ocean
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars This is indeed another excellent fusion album by Ponty, the instrumental interplay has always been very good but it reaches new heights here and inclusion of Holdsworth is a great choice. As one reviewer above says, apart from the usual guitar and violin solos, we shall not forget very potential rhythm section with hungry bass playing and competent and dynamic drums. Compositions are very good but not necessarily better than on the predecessor. "The trans-love express" is the first highlight, a short one but with excellent drumming. "Mirage" explores a mid-tempo violin territory, other players saving power for the hell to come ;).

The title suite is one of the best by Ponty and proves how versatile the band was -> fast-paced dazzling speed in the second part with breathtaking intensity, more symphonic introductory 1st part, the third part with guitar and bass guitar plaing busy. "Nostalgic lady" is not so much a melancholy piece but has a nice memorable motive with a typical Holdsworth solo.

Another suite, "Struggle Of The Sea Turtle" has a powerful and non-conventional bass/drum rhythm pattern and all players get the best out of them.

Ponty managed to bind different instruments together similar to Mahavishnu Orchestra but gave a fairer share of space to all players and as a result, there are no B players here.

4.5 stars deserved.

 Imaginary Voyage by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.67 | 118 ratings

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Imaginary Voyage
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars I find the album more streamlined and accessible than the previous two fusion records, it also shows a small development and more mid 70's sound. Tracks are more melodic, perhaps better compositional skills or mood by Ponty.

The first track is an excellent country-jazz-fusion track with a beautiful acoustic guitar solo + ruling violin. The second track has first hints of a more energetic smooth jazz with still quite good soloing.

"Once upon a dream" could be remotely related to a relaxed Mahavishnu mood, violin synthentizer is an interesting sound addition. "Tarantula" is a bit whimsical track with tiny bits of funy rhythms.

The best is left to the end - the title suite of different tastes: 1. a very dynamic and complex even overblown intro 2.relaxing keyboard/violin part with great soloing 3.the most beautiful part thanks for an uplifting and intensive violin melody - trademark by Ponty, also listen to the killer bass lines 4. more experimental violin/guitar interplay and complex rhythm.

Another fusion highlight by Ponty.

 Aurora by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.80 | 95 ratings

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Aurora
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

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 energy and dynamics dictated by the drums and violin. "Renaissance" is a nice sublime track with acoustic qualities and remote traits of "I've heard it through the grapevine". "Aurora" features some furious soloing on the guitar and violin. There are also hints of more classic jazz such as on "Lost forest". "Waking dream" is a symphonic track with great bass keyboards.

An album with high quality.

 Ponty - Grappelli by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.22 | 14 ratings

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Ponty - Grappelli
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars Considering the almost 70-year old violin veteran, this is a fresh and contemporary sounding effort, especially the two last fusion tracks. Music is more accessible than on the last 2-3 previous jazz album's and the violin duo produces a couple of virtuoso nad warmly sounding tracks. "Violin Summit No.2" is the peak of the album with plenty of instrumental wizardry, Mahavishnu-esque guitar, excellent drumming and electric piano. "Valerie" has the typical warm Grapelli tone while "Bowing" is a distinct European jazz tune. "Golden green" compensates loud music by more acoustic sounds that are heaven for ears with viola/violin equilibristics. Recommended for all curious fans of both violin players.
 Civilized Evil by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.61 | 66 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 | 59 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 | 351 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
2.58 | 28 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.

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

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