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Jean-Luc Ponty

It has been a long, fascinating odyssey for 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. 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, like Echoplex machines, distortion boxes, phase shifters, and wah-wah pedals. Classically trained, with an unquenchable ability to swing when he wants to, and consumed by a passion for tight structures and repeating ostinatos, Ponty has been able to handle styles as diverse as swing, bop, free and modal jazz, jazz-rock, world music, and even country, mixing them up at will. Starting in 1977, he also pioneered the use of a five-string electric violin with a low C string. Undoubtedly, he rivals Stéphane Grappelli for the title of the most prominent and influential European jazz violinist.

Ponty's father -- the director of the school of music in Avranches and a violin teacher as well -- got Jean-Luc started on violin at the age of five, and his mother tutored him on piano. He left school at 13 in order to practice six hours a day in the hope of becoming a concert violinist. At 15, he was accepted into the Paris Conservatoire, ultimately winning the premier prix at age 17. He played with the Concerts Lamoureux Orchestra for three years, during which time, thanks to the influence of Grappelli and Stuff Smith, he became interested in jazz. Oddly enough, Ponty began playing jazz first on the clarinet and tenor sax, waiting until 1962 to apply it to the violin. After a hitch in the French Army (1962-1964), Ponty went completely over to the jazz camp, leading quartets and trios in Europe, recording with Grappelli, Smith, and Svend Asmussen on Violin Summit, and visiting the U.S. for the first time in 1967 at a Monterey Jazz Festival workshop. Enriching himself with diverse American experiences in 1969, Ponty recorded with Frank Zappa, joined the George Duke Trio, and upon his return to France, formed the free jazz Jean-Luc Ponty Experience (1970-1972) before settling in the U.S. and rejoining Zappa's Mothers of Invention. He toured and recorded with the Mahavishnu Orchestra in 1974-1975 and then set out on his own, compiling a long series of solo albums on Atlantic that pulled away from the more volcanic aspects of fusion toward a more lyrical, European, yet still exciting extension of Mahavishnu's idioms.

In 1983, after his records began to sound increasingly formulaic, Ponty switched gears and recharged his creative batteries on the synthesizer. Starting with the Individual Choice album, he began constructing attractive revolving patterns of electronic sounds with the help of sequencers, producing backdrops for his violin that were elegantly indebted to Europop influences. He took this direction with him when he signed with Columbia in 1987, but on 1991's Tchokola album Ponty was on the move again, throwing out the sequencers and recording with West African musicians who provided him with new ostinato patterns to play with. Ponty opened the 21st century with Life Enigma in 2001, following it with Live at Semper Opera that same year. A live Warsaw date from 1999 was released in 2004 as Jean-Luc Ponty in Concert. The Acatama Experience appeared in 2007. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

glad I got to see Him. Fantastic,pe r i o d !
My friend got two front row center tickets to see J-LP!, in 1982, in Milwaukee at the Performing Arts Center, an accousticall y designed music hall. We got to the hall and realized my friend forgot the tickets. So we started pleading with the people to let us in anyway. They called security to take care of us. We were clean cut and courteous and explained out situation. We had front row center seats. Security said if someone else comes up with those tickets we would be in big trouble. WOW

NOSTALGIA! Oh,yes the cherised memories of being blessed & honored with seeing Jean-luc,liv e in concert while I was living overseas,for his fabulous MYSTICAL ADVENTURES TOUR! ; )
One of my favorite Artist, I didn't discover him until 1983 and then went forward and a few albums back. I think you have to be deep to fully appreciate his music.
Well, among his repertoire Cosmic Messenger brings the essence of his talent in my humble opinion. I saw him with Bella Fleck and Stanley Clark a Capella in San Juan PR, a couple of years ago. Awesome.... Jean Luc Ponty you are the Best.
I have always admire and respect Jean Luc Ponty's music alone, but I didn't know he was involved with the Mothers of Invention ( Frank Zappa's band) Frank Zappa was really articulate with his sound and to think that Jean Luc helped with that is awesome.
Yeah would really like to hear some of his popular work and some old stuff like Enigmatic Ocean, the work he did with Zappa, the Mahavishus's Orchestra and Magical Adventures.. . a n d more.
This discography is a shame. A Pandora rep told me about five years ago they were going to work on adding some of the more popular Jean-Luc Ponty albums but so far nothing.
In college, doing jazz radio, picked up and played Cosmic Messenger. Love every track. Been a huge fan ever since. Pointy is a one of a kind- amazing musician composer.
One of the greatest sound manipulators of our time, , signature sound Great. 14y 1m
AWESOME ARTIST Elephants in love is what got me started !!! you can find it on youtube!!
Saw him with Zappa a couple times in L.A. and solo in San Fran then with Stanley Clarke and Bela Fleck..He helped shape my musical path.
love this this cd love this man jean _ luc ponty u rock dude
Modern Times get me going, Cosmic Messenger is a great album, Love the violin, and how he uses it to express and bring his consciousnes s to fruition.
remember him from the 70s still great
Tender Memories started it all for me - Jean Luc is Mega Bomb Violinist, with uncanny expression via violin cannot be duplicated-p e r i o d !
timojzapata
He played with frank and that is good for me forever.
my favorite artist !
My mom saying 'boy what are you listening to' ? While JLP was rocking on my turntable !!! Classic x
thanks to an old friend to bringing ponty into my life since the early eighties,and lucky to see live many times, hopefully soon, in south fla.
Outstanding album! I'm only sorry there isn't more of his renderings. Possibly the gift of time''?
My favorite is: Cosmic Messenger, the best!
Where are the best of JLP's albums??? They are not represented on Pandora. Aurora...Eni g m a t i c Ocean...Cosm i c Messenger... I m a g i n a r y Voyage...whe r e are they?
kermjohn
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of you life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you've started reading so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's name will come on the screen in big letters. This is so scary because it actually works
Civilized Evil is my JPL favorite, very ethereal yet progressive and as always with Mr. Ponty's albums, an musical journey. Saw him in the mid-90's w/A/ Di meola, & lee ritenour , awesome it was an concert..... . . . .
Love the music, very original. When will the next CD be out?
I was in high school when I heard New Country and I've been hooked ever since! A true artist!
It's a shame that the most popular albums of his career remain missing from Pandora.
A wonderful musician I have seen JLP play live 3x in concert he is better live and he is a jazz superstar in my book. Thank you Jean Luc for making great music.
Time to update this bio, Pandora! Lean-Luc has been killing it with Return to Forever..... What a fantastic musician! He fit right in, as expected. One of my favorites, and I'm a tenor player....
philippepelu s o
What a class act and a true musician. Ponty is a legend.
Wow is what I said back in the mid 70's while hanging out at my friends brothers loft in NYC. Thanks to his music collection Lu ponty has been in my life. Seen him in person in loved it. Thks Lu Ponty
Forch
robada1223
SAW HIM LIVE BACK IN 1978 AS A HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR AND RECENTLY HERE IN COLUMBUS OH BACK ON JUNE 2007....EXCE L L E N T AND GOT AN AUTOGRAPGH
I've followed Jean-Luc since the early eighties, thanks to my older brother. I recently saw him in concert, and he still sounds good.
awesome.
Simply the BEST!!!!!STI L L . . . . .
I guess Atlantic isn't giving up the top albums.
The best albums remain missing.
I discovered JLP while I was in high school in the early 80's My only regret was NOT going to see him when he toured with Stanley Clarke and Al Di Meola as the Rites of Strings about 20 (can that be??) years ago.
Jon Luc Ponty's music is part of the soundtrack of my young adult years. He is the gold standard for electric violin and a force of nature in his live performances .
I have been a fan of Mr Ponty for forty years. I saw him at a book store for free with his daughter, and he is still one of the best on the planet.
spinharney6
Been a fan since just prior to the release of Enigmatic Ocean. That LP itself is untouchable. I've seen him twice in concert. Ponty has always surroinded himself with stellar musicians and I haven't seen or heard on average rhythm section playing with him. They've ALWAYS excelled!
The Eric Johnson's Project was centered upon the musical theme of Jean-Luc Ponty's style of music. I was introduced to JLP at the end of 1979 with his album civilized evil, with a radio station from Columbus Ohio named Wbby (notoriously called the Jazz pocket).
Had a girl friend who was quite the violinist that turned me on the JLP in the 80's. Man still love him and wish I never let her go!
One of the best concerts I have ever been to since 1972 !
delain0
Check out Cosmic Messenger, great album.
this music is as close to dreming while being awake it speaks without words beautiful.
love jlp sooo much i remember my friend turning me onto his live lp in the late 70s - not too long after that i bought civilized evil a brilliant fusion record - jlp has a lot of good tunes too numerous to mention - there is a tune that he did with chic corea called i think - waiting birds - its one of those tunes that i would put on any music compilation - JLP an excellent musician
markbncis
Lucky to have seen JLP twice in the 80's. Two of the best shows that I have ever seen.
berussellfri t c h
First discovered JLP in the mid-to-late 70's while I was still in High School. Was thrilled to 'turn on' classmates and a music teacher to his sound. Didn't get to see him in concert for another 10+ years...Dec 10, 1989 at Philadelphia ' s Theatre of Living Arts on South Street. What an absolutely amazing performance - magical and electric ! A show I will never forget. So glad to catch up with JLP here on Pandora !
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