Jean-Luc Ponty with Kurt Edelhagen & His Orchestra

Kurt Edelhagen and His Orchestra / Jean-Luc Ponty

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Jean-Luc Ponty with Kurt Edelhagen & His Orchestra Review

by Ken Dryden

Jean-Luc Ponty himself has denounced this release as a bootleg LP during interviews, and it's impossible to disagree with him. The erratically recorded audience tape that serves as its source material is frequently over-modulated and has one abrupt splice within the middle of a song. The first side does feature Ponty playing what's listed as "Concerto for Jazz Violin and Orchestra" with Kurt Edelhagen's big band; although one movement is clearly written by the violinist (it contains a theme he utilized again in his extended work "Sonata Erotica," recorded in 1972), the bulk of this 21-minute piece was actually written by Hollywood composer Michel Colombier, according to Ponty. It is fascinating to hear the violinist during his early years with a big band, though the liner notes' claim that it was recorded in 1959 is ludicrous, due to Ponty's use of echoplex to accompany himself and the presence of electric keyboards and electric bass that are too modern sounding to be of that vintage; 1969 is the more likely year of the performance. The rest of the disc isn't even Ponty; a very brief take of "Oh, Lady be Good" sounds more like Stephane Grappelli with a small acoustic group, while "Collage," a sloppy fusion of funk organ and pedestrian percussion, and the equally worthless "Under Pressure" (both unaccredited, as are all tracks on this release), reduce the anonymous violinist's role to supporting sideman within the big band. This release was reissued on a Cleopatra CD in 2001, and the concerto also reappeared on the Laserlight CD The Best of Jazz Violin in 1998. It's worth picking up so long as the buyer is aware of the album's shortcomings, if found for a reasonable price.