Jean-Luc Ponty

Canteloupe Island

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Jean-Luc Ponty's Canteloupe Island is one of his finest recording sessions under his own name. The album was recorded in 1969 while Ponty was with Frank Zappa. This set includes five Zappa originals. The composer participated, as did several of his Mothers of Invention, including Ian Underwood and George Duke. This music is some of the best that fusion had to offer. It's lyrical, warm, fantastically performed, and it's got plenty of heart and soul. It contains Zappa's sense of humor and incredible harmonic vocabulary, Ponty's fiery technique and soulful playing, intensely gifted rhythm sections with Arthur III Tripp on drums, bassist Wilton Felder, and Duke, of course, playing electric piano throughout. Zappa's fine compositions include "King Kong," "Idiot Bastard Son," "Twenty Small Cigars," "America Drinks and Goes Home," and the classic "Music for Electric Violin and Low Budget Orchestra," the latter conducted by Underwood. Zappa makes an appearance on electric guitar for Ponty's "How Would You Like to Have a Head Like That," which was deeply inspired by Zappa's knotty, quirky lead lines. Ponty's soloing throughout is hot; it is based in blues and the 20th century classical tradition, and he reaches the extremes of both poles until he finds a way to knit them together. L.A. saxophonist Ernie Watts burns here, pulling out his toughest, most boisterous chops. In addition to the Zappa pieces, there are fine tunes by Duke ("Foosh"), Ponty ("Contact"), and of course the title cut by Herbie Hancock.

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