198

Jean Luc Ponty: In Concert

By

Sign in to view read count
Jean Luc Ponty: In Concert There's a reason jazz-fusion has a bad reputation. It frequently takes the simple, graceful sway of group themes and solos and allows the latter to dominate in icky extended masturbatory excess. At the same time, the melodies are often an afterthought, an excuse for noodling and aimless technique demonstrations. Jean Luc Ponty once apprenticed with Frank Zappa, who knew a thing or two about complex musicianship paired with equally complex compositions. In the intervening decades, he's slipped into the same quagmire that claims groups like the Yellowjackets, Spyro Gyra and even less appealingly new age harpist Andreas Vollenweider. His latest live release confirms the slide is nigh complete.

Ponty's band is multi-ethnic like a Benetton advertisement or a Putumayo Records collection. Everything is just too smooth, too brightly hued, too bloody soft. Recorded in October 1999 but just being released now, In Concert never amounts to much more than glorified muzak, another strain of background filler that's played with skill but little heart or imagination. Even a once lively piece like "Enigmatic Oceans (Part II)" seems drained of life, given all it intends to give in the Allan Holdsworth days.

Frequently, Ponty's once lyrical violin sounds like a machine after all the processing it now goes through. His own solos manage to be both busy and vaguely lazy. Keyboardist William Lecomte specializes in sounds not found in nature or piano. Like much of the tonal palette here, he is cold, polished, scrubbed clean of any grit. The rest of the band is serviceable. They fill the rhythm roles smoothly but without attracting too much attention.

One is reminded of the slow slide that took down Vital Information and the Pat Metheny Group, making once talented instrumentalists into well-groomed technicians who take a polite bow after each solo. Ponty's music is classy, in a starched way, but ultimately it is an unchallenging and none too rewarding experience.


Track Listing: 1. Rhythms of Hope 2. Jig 3. No Absolute Truth 4. Pastoral Harmony 5. Caracas 6. Memories of California 7. Mouna Bowa 8. Enigmatic Ocean (Part II) 9. Open Mind

Personnel: Jean Luc Ponty - violin, William Lecomte - keyboards, Guy Nsangue - akwa & bass, Thierry Arpino - drums and Moustapha Cisse - percussion

Title: In Concert | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Navarre


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Screen Sounds CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Rediscovered Ellington CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 20, 2017
Read The Bug CD/LP/Track Review The Bug
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Sing Me Some Cry CD/LP/Track Review Sing Me Some Cry
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Masters In Bordeaux CD/LP/Track Review Masters In Bordeaux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 19, 2017
Read On Parade In Parede CD/LP/Track Review On Parade In Parede
by John Sharpe
Published: August 19, 2017
Read "Extremophile" CD/LP/Track Review Extremophile
by John Eyles
Published: April 11, 2017
Read "Shifting Borders" CD/LP/Track Review Shifting Borders
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 5, 2017
Read "Solstice" CD/LP/Track Review Solstice
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 3, 2016
Read "Of the Tree" CD/LP/Track Review Of the Tree
by Dave Wayne
Published: October 9, 2016
Read "Wake Up Call" CD/LP/Track Review Wake Up Call
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 27, 2017
Read "King Of Xhosa" CD/LP/Track Review King Of Xhosa
by James Nadal
Published: January 23, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.