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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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Crotchet

JEAN LUC PONTY

In Concert

Recorded at the Jazz Jamboree, Sala Kongresowa, Warsaw, Poland October 23 1999

Le Chant du Monde - 974 1185

 

  1. Rhythm of Hope
  2. Jig
  3. No Absolute Time
  4. Pastoral Harmony
  5. Caracas
  6. Memories of California
  7. Mouna Bowa
  8. Enigmatic Ocean (part II)
  9. Open Mind

Jean Luc Ponty – electric violin

William Lecompte – keyboards

Guy Nsangue Akwa – bass

Thierry Arpino - drums

Moustapha Cisse – percussion

Given the enormous recorded output and popularity of Stephane Grappelli, it is fitting that today another Frenchman should be acknowledged as the worlds leading jazz violinist. The band in this concert consists of musicians who are world class by anybody’s standards. The gap between the US and European jazz musicians has certainly narrowed. In previous years it has been the rhythm section in US bands that have been noticeably better, but that is not the case with this one.

I always would like to have a couple of jazz standards played in concerts like this one. All the pieces here are JLP compositions and to the listener unfamiliar with much of his work, like myself, there is nothing to hang on to from previous experience. That is not to say that the compositions aren’t good, most are very good and they also have the benefit of a strong melody line, totally lacking in the performance of many contemporary artists. The band is at its best in the Latin influenced numbers, both drummer and percussionist are brilliant. The piano and bass guitar work is also as good as you will hear.

Rhythms of Hope has excellent solos by the leader and an excellent bass solo from Guy Nsangue Akwa, he also plays in a remarkable duet with Ponty on the them statement of Jig. When this number gets out of its folk bit and into its jazz section it really ‘cooks’ along. Strangely, No Absolute Time seems to have time but no melody!

Pastoral Harmony on the other hand has a very strong melody, which Ponty delivers with much feeling, pianist William Lacomte excels on this one.

Caracas has a bright Latin beat and everyone seems to play very well on this theme, everyone seems very comfortable and the collective sound is exceptionally good. Mouna Bowa has a calypso beat and as I mentioned earlier, the band certainly sparks in Latin mode. Enigmatic Ocean has very complex rhythms in its opening, but it too has a fine melodic theme. Open Mind started with a repeated keyboard figure, which was just about to drive me crazy, when Ponty went for the jazz and saved the day.

A very fine concert by truly world class musicians, for me a bit over complicated at times, but very interesting throughout. Please let’s have a standard in the programme in future performances, so that people like me know where the datum is!

Don Mather



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