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

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Arena - Songs from the Lion's Cage – Mick Pointer, ex-Marillion drummer leading a comeback effort after 12 years away from the music scene? No way. Well, it's true — sort of anyway. After leaving Marillion following Script for...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues