Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
Jean-Luc Ponty — Life Enigma
(JLP-001, 2001, CD)
Ponty has staked out a claim over the past 30 years as fusion’s best-known violinist, and he has made numerous albums that belong in the Fusion Hall of Fame (if such a thing existed). He has kept a low profile lately and in fact has not released any new material since 1991’s successful West African-influenced comeback album, Tchokola. The release of Life Enigma on Ponty’s own label is good news for fusion fans, and his superb playing is once again clearly evident. He has an ability to make his virtuosity sound effortless, and he casually tosses off fleet-fingered scalar runs with regularity. Clearly his playing has not lost a thing over the years, and technological innovations such as his five string electric violin add to his ability to entrance the listener. Ponty also plays various keyboards and some electronic percussion on the album, and his band only appears together on four of the ten tracks. This gives much of the album the sound of a multi-tracked solo album as opposed to group collaboration, and the energy level suffers as a result. The album also lacks a guitarist to act as a foil to Ponty’s lyrical playing, and this creates a sound that is constantly smooth and melodious but without any rough edges to add interest. Life Enigma will certainly appeal to fans, but unfortunately it fails to match the energy level or originality of Tchokola.
by David Ashcraft, Published 2002-04-01
by Jon Davis, Published 2002-04-01
Related artist(s): Jean-Luc Ponty
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