Jean-Luc Ponty: Upon the Wings of Music


Upon the Wings of Music


Jean-Luc Ponty (violin)


Upon the Wings of Music (Atlantic)

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Jean-Luc Ponty (violin),

Patrice Rushen (keyboards), Ralphe Armstrong (bass), Ndugu Leon Chandler (drums, percussion)


Composed by Jean-Luc Ponty


Recorded: Los Angeles, January 1975


Rating: 89/100 (learn more)

Jean-Luc Ponty is the most commercially successful fusion violinist. On the face of it, that doesn't seem to be such a big deal because there were and are only a handful of them. But jazz-rock did allow a return to popularity of the jazz violin. Such legendary players as Stuff Smith, blueser Sugar Cane Harris, jazzer Joe Venuti and Stéphane Grappelli had made their marks. But the violin as an instrument for the young jazz or rock fan didn't seem to be in the cards. That was changed by fusion players Ponty, Jerry Goodman, Zbigniew Seifert, L. Shankar, Allen Sloan and a few others. Ponty in particular, having played with old-school Grappelli and Smith and new-school Frank Zappa and Mahavishnu, bridged the generations. He also popularized the instrument enough to front bands that sold records by the ton and brought droves of younger fans to large venues.

"Upon the Wings of Music" is a typical Ponty performance from that time. Its title suggests its vibe. As a general rule, Ponty's tunes would be introduced by a minute or two of soaring electric bowing. In fact, the word "soaring" in the dictionary should have Ponty's picture next to it. There's a little more room on this tune for some improvisational light funk and jazz noodling, which Rushen, Armstrong and Chandler do quite well. But the overall feel is dominated by Ponty's melodious strains that quite literally allow you to float away on a cloud.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

Related Links

In Conversation with Jean-Luc Ponty by Thierry Quénum

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