He is a killer. He plays on violin like Coltrane does on sax.” — Stuff Smith, legendary pioneer of jazz violin
An undisputed master of violin and a pioneer in the area of jazz-rock, Jean-Luc Ponty is widely regarded as an innovator who has applied his unique visionary spin to expand the vocabulary of modern music. Upon hearing “The Flying Frenchmen” in concert in the 1960s, the great American jazz violinist Stuff Smith said of Ponty, “He is a killer! He plays on the violin like Coltrane does on sax” (Encyclopedia of Jazz In The Sixties by Leonard Feather). In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle in 1976, Stéphane Grappelli said, “No, he is not a student, he is a great musician who invented a new style on the violin.” Ponty will bring his scintillating vocabulary to bear as the newest member of Return To Forever IV.
In 1976, Ponty was invited by Chick Corea to participate in the recording My Spanish Heart, which included the stirring piano-violin-trio number, “Armando’s Rumba.” Through the ‘70s and into the mid ‘80s, Ponty toured the world repeatedly and recorded 12 albums for the Atlantic label. He switched to Columbia in 1987, releasing The Gift of Time that year and following up with Storytelling in 1989. In September, 2009, he appeared as a guest of Corea, Clarke & White along with Chaka Khan for a special evening at the famous Hollywood Bowl, with Stevie Wonder showing up by surprise for a jam at the end. In 2010, Ponty toured with his band in the Caribbean, Europe and Russia and also as a duet partner with pianist Wolfgang Dauner in Europe.
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