Jean-Luc Ponty: Imaginary Voyage
Jean-Luc Ponty (violin)
Imaginary Voyage (Atlantic 19136-2)
Jean-Luc Ponty (violin),
Daryl Stuermer (guitar), Allan Zavod (keyboards), Tom Fowler (bass), Mark Craney (percussion).
Composed by Jean-Luc Ponty.
Recorded: Burbank, CA, July 1976
Rating: 89/100 (learn more)
French violinist Jean-Luc Ponty is among a handful of jazz violinists who have been both musical pioneers and commercially viable. All commercial success is relative and most often temporary. This is especially true when you play an unpopular instrument. How many gigs can a jazz violinist find? This makes the accomplishments of such trailblazers as Joe Venuti, Stuff Smith, Stéphane Grappelli, Jerry Goodman and Ponty all the more impressive.
Ponty has played all styles of music, but his greatest contribution has been to the fusion genre. "Imaginary Voyage" is a jazz-rock suite in four movements. Part 1 is heavy on swirling keyboard runs and quickly played unison runs. Ponty makes a statement of his own in Part 2. His fusion playing has always been a combination of soaring blues-like lines infused with European sophistication. During Part 3, Ponty stretches out in a happy-go-lucky way. In Part 4, we get down to the interstellar stuff for which Ponty is best known. His violin, recorded with a sustained echo, attempts to communicate with the cosmos. This rapprochement leads to a guitar-driven blues-funk-rock jam that gives way to a mad fusion dash. Finis.
These long multipart excursions were once a staple of fusion performances. But somewhere along the line – probably when lesser musicians tried them – the form fell out of favor as being too pretentious. But in the hands of someone as talented as Ponty, these suites were well worth sitting through.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky
In Conversation with Jean-Luc Ponty by Thierry Quénum