Jean-Luc Ponty: Mam' Mai
Jean-Luc Ponty (violin)
Tchokola (Epic EK 47378)
Jean-Luc Ponty (violin),
Myriam Betty, Esther Dobong’Na-Essiene, Angelique Kidjo (vocals), Abdou Mboup (vocals, percussion), Yves Ndjock (guitar), Guy Nsangue (bass), Kemo Kouyate (cora), Brice Wassy (drums), Moustapha Cisse (percussion).
Composed by Abdou Mboup, Yves Ndjock & Jean-Luc Ponty.
Recorded: Paris, 1990
Rating: 85/100 (learn more)
Jean-Luc Ponty had made a very good living playing his electric violin through all sorts of effects boxes. He used specially made violins of varying string counts and non-standard tunings. Ponty would crank the reverb to 11 and soar away on a magic carpet. His virtuosity, taste and unusual sound helped him sell tons of jazz-rock records in the 1980s. He was also among the first to adopt the MIDI interface and sequencers, which allowed him to add even more synthetic sounds to his already impressive arsenal.
The Jean-Luc Ponty who showed up on Tchokola, however, was quite a different musician. On "Mam' Mai," based upon the traditional Senegalese "sabar" dance tradition, Ponty plays acoustic and electric violins sans reverb or any other major effects. Ponty was also playing a different kind of music. Bitten by the world-music fusion bug, he gathered a group of West African musicians to explore a quasi-Reggae jazz hybrid. As with most African-based music, the percussive rhythm dominates. The tune, replete with West African vocals, allows Ponty to show yet another side of his musical character. He does not play in the style of a West African violinist. (Is there any such thing?) Rather, he takes a European blues sensibility and sets it down right in the middle of the savannah.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky
In Conversation with Jean-Luc Ponty by Thierry Quénum