Exposé Online banner

Jean-Luc Ponty — Life Enigma
(JLP-001, 2001, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2002-04-01

Life Enigma Cover artI’m probably not unique in my history with Jean-Luc Ponty. I discovered his inventive, melodic jazz-fusion violin playing with his albums of the seventies like Enigmatic Ocean and Imaginary Voyage, then lost track of him during the 80s. I was aware that he kept working, but his New Age direction did not interest me much. So it was with great interest that I decided to check out this new CD, which was billed as a synthesis of all of Ponty’s styles, including the fusion of the earlier days. I am sad to report that there is actually fairly little of the old style present on this release. Ponty’s beautiful tone on the electric violin is readily recognizable, and there are some hints of those lushly voiced unison parts we loved, but they are for the most part backed by sterile drum machine programming and emotionless digital keyboards. A few tracks do feature musicians other than Ponty: bassist Guy Nsangué Akwa appears frequently, Thierry Arpino and Moustapha Cissé provide some drums and percussion from time to time, and William Lecomte plays piano on two cuts. Unfortunately, these accomplices appear on a series of mellow tracks that fuse Lite Jazz, New Age, and World Beat. The lack of energy really detracts from some decent writing. I have nothing against drum machines categorically. Like any other piece of musical technology, it’s what you do with them that counts. Unfortunately, Ponty’s brilliance on the violin does not carry over to electronic drum programming.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 24, 2001 releases

Related artist(s): Jean-Luc Ponty

Latest news

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

The Black Noodle Project - And Life Goes On... – I’m not above enjoying a good clone band. I quite enjoy a lot of them. And Black Noodle Project may not necessarily be a complete Pink Floyd clone, but in the world of clonedom, some of these songs...  (2005) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues