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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


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

3.57 | 14 ratings
Jazz Long Playing
1964
3.50 | 4 ratings
Sunday Walk
1967
3.75 | 12 ratings
More Than Meets The Ear
1968
3.92 | 18 ratings
Electric Connection
1969
3.95 | 69 ratings
King Kong - Jean-Luc Ponty Plays the Music of Frank Zappa
1970
4.00 | 6 ratings
Astrorama (with Masahiko Satoh)
1970
3.86 | 7 ratings
Jean-Luc Ponty Experience: Open Strings
1972
4.21 | 19 ratings
Ponty - Grappelli
1973
3.93 | 85 ratings
Upon The Wings Of Music
1975
3.83 | 112 ratings
Aurora
1976
3.70 | 138 ratings
Imaginary Voyage
1976
4.27 | 399 ratings
Enigmatic Ocean
1977
3.83 | 148 ratings
Cosmic Messenger
1978
3.79 | 78 ratings
A Taste For Passion
1979
3.66 | 78 ratings
Civilized Evil
1980
4.19 | 202 ratings
Mystical Adventures
1982
3.93 | 77 ratings
Individual Choice
1983
3.43 | 41 ratings
Open Mind
1984
3.67 | 53 ratings
Fables
1985
3.31 | 44 ratings
The Gift Of Time
1987
3.15 | 34 ratings
Storytelling
1989
2.39 | 35 ratings
Tchokola
1991
3.11 | 26 ratings
No Absolute Time
1992
3.18 | 24 ratings
Life Enigma
2001
3.33 | 26 ratings
Jean Luc Ponty & His Band: The Atacama Experience
2007

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

3.40 | 11 ratings
Violin-Summit
1967
3.46 | 22 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
4.06 | 51 ratings
Jean-Luc Ponty: Live
1979
3.67 | 6 ratings
Live at Donte's
1981
3.14 | 13 ratings
Live at Chene Park
1996
4.36 | 11 ratings
Live at Semper Opera
2002
4.00 | 9 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 | 4 ratings
Canteloupe Island
1976
4.67 | 3 ratings
Le Voyage - Anthology
1996
3.04 | 10 ratings
The Very Best of
2000
4.00 | 2 ratings
The Best Of
2002
4.08 | 3 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
 Electric Connection by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.92 | 18 ratings

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Electric Connection
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by DangHeck
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Ponty leads this stellar ensemble in Post-Bop Glory.

Still plenty early in the career of this soon-to-be Fusion pioneer, Electric Connection is a light-Fusion album, more or less Mr. Ponty's fourth studio solo release. Most notable, I would say, is the featuring of the late, great George Duke on piano, and, Duke being the bridge between Ponty and Frank Zappa (with whom George played; in Frank's mid-70s Fusion band), Hot Rats drummer Paul Humphrey is also present. The year is 1969 and these guys kept busy.

"Summit Soul" is a quick-to-the-punch opener, with a great theme. Awesome guitar solo up front by Wilbert Longmire before Jean-Luc's own. With this fuller ensemble of musicians, in particular horns, there are elements here reminiscent to contemporaries Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears (I realize I talk about them a lot, but to me, they are early Jazz Rock). On "Hypomode De Sol", we enter into the Blues, a cool, smooth track. This band was hot. And I'm a huge fan of Jean-Luc, and his solo here is wonderful. Midway, they pick up the pace all, set to a blaze. The violin is in wonderful contrast to the sharp stabs from the horns. Up next, the ensemble covers the Simon & Garfunkel rendition of "Scarborough Fair" (with "Canticle"). Very lovely; more than cool to hear Folk-Jazz or whatever you might call this.

Up next, we have "The Name Of The Game", which honestly enough sounds at first like some TV theme song. But once they get rolling, we are truly in it. Great track, fairly straight ahead, but it gets real good with the sax solo. Definitely a moment I wish I could give specific credit (it's either Richard Aplar on baritone or Bud Shank on alto). To go back to the Zappa connection, it sort of reminded me of the distinct muted sax solos performed by Bunk Gardner of the Mothers. Enter cool swing with me on "The Loner". Delicious, and now that I'm thinking on it very of the decade, something distinctly '60s about its vibe. The intro though is something else... I assume just heavy, heavy reverb used on the violin. A very cool effect, especially for the time. This one is certainly straight-ahead, but will appeal to fans of the 'purer' stuff. 'Jazz', is it?

Ponty & Co. really capture a special sweetness on "Waltz For Clara", another swingin' number with Post-Bop arrangement. George Duke's piano is interposed between Jean-Luc's viol soloing and the rhythm section, featuring occasioned soft stabbings from the horns. There is a very warm and easily-approached quality from the production throughout this album, but this is a great number to showcase that. And then, a flute solo from Tony Ortega! Followed by a wonderfully free solo from Duke. Sweetness shifts into melancholy on the understated, balladic "Forget". Beautiful reprieve before our closer, "Eighty-One". And a helluva vibe on this one. Super cool, with a fantastic groove. Very of-the-time horny sections here. Another moment for drummer Paul Humphrey to shine. And one last heavy-chops solo from George. Awesome.

 The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with The George Duke Trio [Aka: Live in Los Angeles] by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Live, 1969
3.46 | 22 ratings

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The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with The George Duke Trio [Aka: Live in Los Angeles]
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars Another unique item in the Ponty's and Duke's discography, not only because of the names that meet in the Frank Zappa's group again. Both lead players would soon abandon the rich improvisational music that was at its height in 1969-1970 inspired by Miles. Then, we have the first electric album by Duke and he performs some very capable solos or jazz background support for Ponty. I think the strongest cuts are those with more coherent structure such as "Cantaloupe island", "Foosh". Comparing to Miles, we can also hear slight soul-jazz instrumental influences which give it a lighter touch in contrast to intensive numbers like "Starlight, starbright". The rhythm section is purely supportive but competently laying down the pattern.
 Tchokola by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.39 | 35 ratings

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Tchokola
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mirakaze
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

1 stars As Jean-Luc Ponty came out of the 1980s, which for him had mostly been a decade of musical stagnation in which memorable musical moments were far outnumbered by unassuming filler, he decided that it was time for a swift change in musical direction and thus he embraced the concept of world fusion, augmenting his sound with African chanting choirs, rhythms and "tribal" percussion. The result sadly sounds less like a sincere attempt at artistic reinvention and more like a hackneyed attempt at hopping on a semi-popular bandwagon of the time. It clearly did not rejuvenate Ponty's own flame either because the man goes through the motions like never before on this album: there's nothing interesting about these saccharine compositions, his playing rarely impresses, and his violin tone sounds overly slick and processed, which together with the thoroughly lackluster production (with the same muddy bass and flat, unreverberated guitar twiddling about in the background the whole time) only helps to make this a very dull listening experience. The culture of the African continent deserves better representation than this hackwork.
 King Kong - Jean-Luc Ponty Plays the Music of Frank Zappa by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.95 | 69 ratings

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King Kong - Jean-Luc Ponty Plays the Music of Frank Zappa
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This really comes across as a Ponty/ Zappa collaboration as Frank re-arranged his 6 tracks on here and then plays guitar on one song, the song Ponty composed "How would You Like To Have A Head Like That". They were fans of each others music before Jean-Luc started to play on Zappa albums. Frank's debut was in 1966 and Jean-Luc's in 1964. They have George Duke on electric piano throughout and Ian Underwood on sax on both the opener and closer. He also conducts the 19 1/2 minute "Music For Electric Violin And Low Budget Orchestra". Ian had a Bachelors degree from Yale and a Masters from Berkeley in piano and composing. Interesting that Frank brought in Buell Neidlinger to play bass on the longest track here because he didn't know who else could do it. Buell was at the time playing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra but he played with both Cecil Taylor and Gil Evans in the 50's.

The violin really does dominate the sound overall and this is all instrumental. "King Kong" is such a good way to start as we get this violin led track with bass, drums, vibes and electric piano mostly. Ponty is ripping it up before 3 minutes. "Idiot Bastard Son" has that familiar melody coming and going throughout. You don't need to hear the words when you can sing them. Not big on "Twenty Small Cigars" to be honest. Ponty's track is really good with George showing his stuff along with Frank. Kind of cool that we get a solo from George for about a minute followed by Zappa's guitar solo for about a minute before Ponty returns to end it with the violin. The long song is a trip through different styles and sounds. Conservatory music to Jazz to Avant it's quite the ride. The closer is okay.

Easily a 4 star album for me and no Jean-Luc did nothing else similar to this with his solo stuff but if I had to recommend one of his other solo albums it would be "Enigmatic Ocean".

 Original Album Series Vol. 2 by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2016
4.08 | 3 ratings

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Original Album Series Vol. 2
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Heart of the Matter

4 stars In the albums compiled here, Ponty's music is, as usual, full of resources that you can see coming for a good while before they reach you, but still, when they do so, they really get you. We can hear, e.g., the enveloping arpeggio by the electric guitar setting mood and ambiance for what's coming, the wha-wha processed funky bass emulating a duck-like excited voice, and the sensible legato on the electric violin, house brand of the artist. Let's see and compare:

CD 1 "A Taste for Passion": A step back from Ponty's 'classic period' 1975-78, but, still so, a classy & catchy jazz-fusion effort, even when turned milder than one might desire.

CD 2 "Jean-Luc Ponty Live": Great live performance, reflecting the arc of studio releases that gave Ponty's career its greatest momentum, from "Aurora" to "Cosmic Messenger".

CD 3 "Civilized Evil": A certain tecno twist crept in at this point (machines were taking over the world by then), but, at least, the bass lines ceased to be so overtly funky.

CD 4 "Mystical Adventures": Better, yet with some tecno relapse. Nice soloing by Jean-Luc, including his graceful flamenco touch.

CD 5 "Individual Choice": Rather run out of ideas, to my taste at least, but still listenable.

 Enigmatic Ocean by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.27 | 399 ratings

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Enigmatic Ocean
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Squire Jaco

5 stars A baffling (Enigmatic) abundance of musical ideas (Ocean).

It's nice to see this album so universally loved here on ProgArchives; it is nice confirmation for those of us who place it among our top 5 albums of all time. There's no question that all the musicians here were top-notch, and just worked so naturally together on this album. But the dazzling solos would have gone unnoticed had it not been for Ponty's incredible compositions supporting them, and the unique voice of his electric violin. This was the type of album in the 1970's that caught your attention immediately, and stretched your musical tastes into a whole new and exciting style of contemporary music. For a young man (at that time!) who was just learning to appreciate the bass guitar in much of progressive music, I found Armstrong's jazzy but progressive fretless bass a source of endless creativity and fun.

Really, there is little I can add to the gushing reviews that others have already posted, but I needed to acknowledge this album's brilliance if only for reasons of posterity. This was indeed JLP's best, and one of the greatest albums ever - fusion, jazz, rock, prog...whatever. Absolutely essential for those stranded on a deserted island surrounded by...ocean. (Bring extra batteries!)

 Civilized Evil by PONTY, JEAN-LUC album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.66 | 78 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
3.83 | 148 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
4.27 | 399 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
3.70 | 138 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.

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

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