Jean-Luc Ponty: Brief Bio and Podcast Link

ponty - portrait

You can hear JEAN LUC PONTY’s inspired flights of musical invention on now classic albums like On the Wings of Music, Cosmic Messenger and Enigmatic Ocean (to name just a few)

ponty - enigmatic

The violin was not his first instrument of choice ( M. Ponty also studied piano, clarinet and tenor sax. )
 
When he was starting out as a profession musician, the violin was not widely recognized as a prominent instrument in the musical vocabulary of  jazz (although players like Stuff Smith, Joe Venuti and Stephane Grappelli had made significant contributions to the form.)
 
In fact. M. Ponty was studying classical violin in Paris when he heard jazz for the first time when some students brought in LPs by Chet Baker and Modern Jazz Quartet.” It was a smooth introduction to jazz for classical musicians and it worked like a magic spell on me,” he told Jazz.com in a 2008 interview.
 
Captivated by the spontaneity and improvisational spirit of jazz, he recorded his first album at the age of 22 in 1964 (yes, they still had vinyl in those days and released albums in their entirety rather  than selling them piecemeal on websites.)
In 1966 Jean-Luc Ponty collaborated on a “live” album (Violin Summit, recorded in Switzerland) with Stuff Smith and the legendary M. Grappelli.)
ponty - violin summit
It was the 1970 Liberty Records release King Kong: Jean-Luc Ponty Plays the Music of Frank Zappa that brought about the connection with Zappa and several years of touring with Zappa and the Mothers of Invention and recording with the fabled American bandleader. During this period M. Ponty and his family moved to America from Europe.
Ponty - Zappa

 His solo recordings (he charted over a dozen best-selling albums with Atlantic Records) and his work with fiery guitarist John McLaughlin and Mahavishnu Orchestra on albums such as Apocalypse and Visions of the Emerald Beyonmade Jean-Luc Ponty one of the leading exponents of the musical hybrid that came to known as “jazz fusion”.

Although M. Ponty may have reached his commercial peak several decades ago he has not been one to rest on his laurels.  Beginning with 1983’s Individual Choice the restless genius began experimenting with the effect of sequencers and electronics on his playing. He signed to Columbia in 1987.

 In  2001 M. Ponty released  Life Enigma on his own label (J.L.P. Productions, Inc.).

 

As of this writing M. Ponty is collaborating with former Yes  vocalist Jon Anderson. A concert at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen  was recorded and filmed; it was released in 2015 as Better Late than Never. 

ponty - anderson

 

And why aren’t Jean-Luc Ponty’s releases selling in the millions as they did in his 1970s heyday?

” In 1975-1976 this type of music was played all over America and the world in jazz, soft-rock, prog-rock and folk stations. I was invited several times to perform on talk shows like the Tonight Show, Merv Griffin etc.,” he told jazzweekly.com in a recent interview. ” Home entertainment was very limited … people had to buy albums to listen to music at home. It has been constantly changing since the early 80s and nowadays it is extremely difficult for young musicians to be exposed internationally on a big scale like before. Internet can be a chance to achieve that ……” 

And posting about the Internet, you can hear some of M. Ponty’s shorter pieces on GIR’s Tribute to Jean-Luc Ponty with David Gordon and Rick Dennis on on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wupMiq6BHIM or https://www.spreaker.com/user/vingaton/planet-jazz-jean-luc-ponty

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Author: rixbitz

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