Here is Ponty's radical break with his past, one that further tightened his control over his craft while ironically liberating his muse. In laying out his attractive new music on synthesizers and sequencers, emphasizing revolving ostinato patterns, Ponty rejuvenated his melodic gift, and as a result, even in this controlled setting, his violin solos take on a new freshness and exuberance…
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music
Dreamy. Ethereal. Beautiful. These are the words that first spring to mind whenever I listen to A Taste for Passion by Jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. Not only is the music incredibly powerful and memorable, but the playing itself is magnificent. Ponty has a way with musical phrasing that allows him to experiment with a myriad of different styles and approaches, yet somehow make it all fit together like a perfectly-cut jigsaw puzzle. One moment you're being swept away by otherworldly, melodious pieces such as ''Stay With Me'' and the album;s title track, and the next minute you may find yourself grooving out to one of the album's Jazz- aimed masterworks such as the wonderful ''Sunset Drive''. There really isn't much to dislike here, unless you want to get picky and say that much too much musical ground is covered. Granted, it may have appealed to more people has the music stayed in one area for the most part, but then we wouldn't have the wonderful, eclectic masterpiece that we have today.
A switch back to Atlantic finds Jean-Luc Ponty continuing to dabble in West African waters while re-establishing his earlier solid base in repeating sequenced patterns. The electronics are back, for Ponty splits his time between the electric violin and various synthesizers and sequencers while Abdou M'Boup and Sydney Thiam add African percussion, which often takes a back seat to the electronics as the rhythmic basis for the music. This time, though, the material Ponty has composed isn't as compelling as it had been in the past; at times, Ponty sounds like he is very competently treading water (though "Blue Mambo" has a compelling groove). Yet despite all of the changes Ponty has put himself through, his music still has a Continental elegance that cannot be mistaken for that of anyone else.
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.
Jean-Luc Ponty plays himself some really modern keyboards here, creating very atmospheric textures, rather urban, often flirting with a jazz-New Age style. To enhance the modern aspect of the music, Ponty plays a VERY "bottom" synth bass, which gives very much color, personality and depth to the music.
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.
Jean-Luc Ponty reaches a musical peak by releasing this excellent fusion record. Looking at the new line-up here, the talent and reliability of the musicians is not questionable: Mark Craney (Jethro Tull's "A") plays very fast and EXTREMELY elaborated drums.
Not just an album of interpretations, King Kong: Jean-Luc Ponty Plays the Music of Frank Zappa was an active collaboration; Frank Zappa arranged all of the selections, played guitar on one, and contributed a new, nearly 20-minute orchestral composition for the occasion. Made in the wake of Ponty's appearance on Zappa's jazz-rock masterpiece Hot Rats, these 1969 recordings were significant developments in both musicians' careers. In terms of jazz-rock fusion, Zappa was one of the few musicians from the rock side of the equation who captured the complexity – not just the feel – of jazz, and this project was an indicator of his growing credibility as a composer. For Ponty's part, King Kong marked the first time he had recorded as a leader in a fusion-oriented milieu (though Zappa's brand of experimentalism didn't really foreshadow Ponty's own subsequent work).
Jean Luc Ponty, veteran pioneering Jazz violinist recorded this CD at Semper Opera, Dresden in Germany, live and without dubbing; he says it is the most acoustic of his three live albums. The opening track "Imaginary Voyage; Infinite Pursuit" uses an ostinato effect that gives it a repetitive feel, but it opens out gradually, becoming more intricate when Ponty enters with his fine toned five string electric violin. There is also a noticeable African influence, with Mousstapha Cisse on percussion and Guy Nsangue Akwa on bass. "Mouna Bowa" is the first track that restricts itself to some straight forward swing by Ponty; he has a clear, precise tone and a sizzling technique, the whole band is articulate and inventive, this track is great fun.
The act of switching to Columbia did not have a substantial impact upon Jean-Luc Ponty — not yet, at least — for his debut with the label found him mining the repeating, sequencer-driven lode that he was exploring while on Atlantic. But there are two areas where there is a difference: the material is superior to that of Fables, more memorable and immediately winning in melodic and arpeggiated content, and the sound quality is considerably improved over that of much of his Atlantic output. The rhythm section of Fables returns, with Pat Thomi replacing Scott Henderson on guitar, and as before, they take a definite back seat to their leader's violins, synthesizers and electronic devices.
Cosmic Messenger is more elegant, European-flavored jazz-rock from the French virtuoso Jean-Luc Ponty, and pretty much in the same mold as his previous Atlantic albums but with gradually tightening control over every parameter of performance. Ponty's analog-delay special effects on the title track are spectacular, and the album is loaded more than ever with revolving electronic arpeggios as Ponty's own involvement with the ARP synthesizer grows. But there is still plenty of his fluid, slippery electric violin soloing to be heard within the tight structures of these pieces, and the tunes themselves are often pretty good.