Cosmic Messenger revisited

I slept on Jean-Luc Ponty for awhile. You see so many of his records in used bins here the states, it gets daunting. In light of the "cosmic" revival of the last few years, I feel its time to look a little closer at the magic of JLP.
He came up in the post-Bop era of jazz, playing with such luminaries as Frank Zappa & George Duke (a favorite of mine!) yet is best known for what is generally categorized as fusion. Combining technology & electronics with jazz, just as Miles Davis, the electro-jazz pioneer before him, JLP took it to another level incorporating analogue synthesizers & drum machines on his own solo releases. I liken JLP to Manuel Gӧttsching with the use of arpeggiated sequencers driving the rhythm along with their instrument of choice. As an electric violin player, he augments this with echo & effects tastefully only to enhance the music, never just for the sake of it. Ponty still continues to make music & tour today. I hear his mechanical rhythms as a direct influence on the second wave of Detroit Techno, particularly Kenny Larkin & Carl Craig. (Stacey Pullen has even recorded under the moniker "Kosmic Messenger" - an obvious nod to JLP). I am sharing just a few selections, notably from the late 70s to the late 80s out of his vast body of work that spans 5 decades. My choices mainly feature JLP w/ synth accompaniment. These are my stand-out favorites. (I encourage you to seek out the full lengths!) With fantastic titles such as "Enigmatic Ocean", "Echoes of the Future" and "Mirage", Ponty was always pointing to something deeper. From this world, yet beyond it.

"Ethereal Mood" from COSMIC MESSENGER (1978).
Pure Balearic bliss. Truly a sonic sunset.

"Computer Incantations for World Peace" from INDIVIDUAL CHOICE (1983).
JLP's own "mini E2-E4". Epic.

"Intuition" from OPEN MIND (1984).
Liner notes say "rhythm computer", but it sounds like a Linn to me.
Check the synth bassline on this introspective one.

"Plastic Idols" from FABLES (1985)
Slower one here with some creative delays on the pizzicatos.

"Metamorphosis" from GIFT OF TIME (1987)
spacey blips & beeps with a little fusion-y bass & drums.

Here the link to the video for "Individual Choice" produced by Louis Schwarzberg. Very reminicent of Koyaanisqatsi. Evidently, next to "Rockit" this was one of the first videos for a jazz musician.

No comments: