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Jean-Luc Ponty: Individual Choice


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: Jean-Luc Ponty: Individual Choice
By 1982, jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty had established an enviable reputation as a pioneer in jazz-rock and jazz fusion. He began as a young bebop player in the late 1950s with little interest in becoming another swing or gypsy style violinist. It was the "sheets of sound" music of John Coltrane that spoke loudest to him. By the early 1970s Ponty was recording and touring with rock composer Frank Zappa, and playing with John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra, as well as releasing his own music on Atlantic Records. He bought himself a sequencer and synthesizer and carried them around while traveling so he could record new ideas. As ever, he was ready to experiment with new techniques to capture ideas for projects he was planning. The end result surprised and intrigued him.

In a retrospective interview for this re-release, JLP (as he is affectionately called) said: "What I was recording in that new sequencer gave me the idea to go for a totally different concept, to use these recordings as rhythmic backgrounds, sometimes without drums or percussion. I planned to record a new album in which I would play all the background parts with my synthesizers and add my violin later on in the studio. I also invited a few guests on different tracks, rather than record yet another band album."

This then, was the genesis of Individual Choice, which was released in 1983. Rayford Griffin on drums and Randy Jackson on bass both of whom were members of JLP's band at the time appeared on a few tracks,. He also added guests Allan Holdsworth (guitar) and George Duke (keys) on a couple of tracks. While the music might have been familiar to fans of earlier albums like Cosmic Messenger, Mystical Adventures, and Upon The Wings Of Music, it also underscored Ponty's evolving approach to composing. At this point in his career, he was as curious about new sounds, and how they shape harmony and melody, as he was to continue to compose in more familiar ways. New Age philosophy was mainstreaming at this time, and the album's hypnotic moods resonated with new age listeners as well as fusion fans. It helped pioneer techno, and said musically what JLP had been saying before, but more succinctly and freshly.

Ponty said: "Thirty years later, I discovered that this album, and the next one Open Mind, inspired younger musicians from other styles of music such as electro, house, DJs etc. to remix some pieces from these two albums. It was quite a surprise."

A side note is that the track "Individual Choice," was used for one of the very first music videos, which was produced by Louis Schwarzberg, a pioneer with time lapse filming, and became a world success.

Liner Notes copyright © 2023 Peter Rubie.

Individual Choice can be purchased here.

Peter Rubie Contact Peter Rubie at All About Jazz.
Jazz musician, teacher, writer, editor, late bloomer—it's never too late.

Track Listing

Computer Incantations For World Peace; Far From The Beaten Paths; In Spiritual Love; Eulogy To Oscar Romero; Nostalgia; Individual Choice; In Spite Of All.


Jean-Luc Ponty: violin; George Duke: piano; Allan Holdsworth: guitar, electric; Randy Jackson: bass; Rayford Griffin: drums.

Album information

Title: Individual Choice | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: MPS

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