Jean-Luc Ponty & Frank Zappa: King Kong


King Kong


Jean-Luc Ponty & Frank Zappa


King Kong: Jean-Luc Ponty Plays the Music of Frank Zappa (Blue Note 89539)

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Jean-Luc Ponty (electric violin), George Duke (electric piano), Ian Underwood (tenor sax), Buell Neidlinger (bass), Art Tripp (drums),

Gene Estes (vibes, percussion)


Composed and arranged by Frank Zappa


Recorded: Los Angeles, March 14-15, 1969


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

Hmmm, a Blue Note release with liner notes by Leonard Feather? How did Zappa get through the security at Rudy Van Gelder's studio? Not to worry: no long-haired hippie freak went anywhere near Rudy's equipment. The session took place out West where things are looser. And Zappa didn't even play on the date (although he is credited as composer and arranger, and lent some of his bandmates for the proceedings). Even more to the point, some of the music on the King Kong LP is quite jazzy. Skip the long-winded "Music for Electric Violin and Low Budget Orchestra," and head straight for the title track. "King Kong" belongs in the Fusion Hall of Fame (when they open it). A churning, bubbling cauldron of 6/8 is about ready to boil over. The hopping and skipping melody is followed by an explosive George Duke solo (I actually think I hear artillery fire in the background), and then Ponty soars. This one will make you want to climb to the top of the Empire State Building and take on a half-dozen biplanes.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

Related Links

The Dozens: The Jazzy Side of Frank Zappa by Ted Gioia
In Conversation with Jean-Luc Ponty by Thierry Quénum

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