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

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more

2017-05-02
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Sigur Rós - Takk – Iceland’s Sigur Rós’ claim to fame appears to be as a European bridge between 70s progressive rock ideas and modern alternative rock. The band has been tabbed by industry magazines such as Mojo...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues