Jean-Luc Ponty

Life Enigma

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After a delay of nearly five years since the release (in 1996) of his final Atlantic CD, Live at Chene Park, Jean-Luc Ponty's debut for his JLP label proves to be a finely hewed masterpiece from the violinist's studio workshop. He plays many of the instruments himself (keyboards, electronic drums and percussion, and synclavier) through overdubbing on most of the tracks, although it's readily apparent that these new compositions will work in performance with the talented supporting cast of his touring band. Ponty goes it alone on the richly textured "Two Thousand-One Years Ago," and the mournful "Lonely Among All." But "Pizzy Cat" (a playful shorthand reference to pizzicato), featuring Ponty unaccompanied, without overdubs, strumming and plucking his five-string Midi electric violin with synclavier, proves to be the most compelling of the solo performances. The band members join him in various combinations on the remaining tracks, with the full group heard only on "Firmament," which is seasoned with a catchy blend of Oriental and African flavorings. This is easily one of Jean-Luc Ponty's most compelling releases.

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