Jean-Luc Ponty – Upon The Wings Of Music (1975)

A nearly perfect blend of jazz-format in a rock context, this terrific album contains all the best aspects of 70’s fusion with minimal self-indulgence. Violinist Jean-Luc Ponty had been doing time with Frank Zappa and John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra and while there are traces of their influences here this is unmistakably the work of a tremendous talent who was ready make his own masterpiece. The performances are energetic (particularly drummer Leon “Ndugu” Chandler who wins Employee of the Month award here) and full of imagination all round. Twenty year-old Patrice Rushen displays some awesome jazz chops on various keyboards which makes me wish she dreamt up more albums like her debut ‘Prelusion’ of the previous year and resisted pursuing a far more lucrative solo funk-lite R&B recording career. Her synth work on this album is both urbane and spacey. The compositions are melodic structural showcases for Ponty’s unique serpentine soloing. The title track is a fusion masterclass, the balladic ‘Question With No Answer’ is all sweet-spots, while ‘Polyfolk Dance’ is Zappa-like with its abundance of musical events. It does lag slightly in places, fusion albums will do that, but overall this is a classic.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Jean-Luc Ponty – Upon The Wings Of Music (1975)

  1. I recently picked this up as a used LP in great shape for a mere 49 cents. It was in my “to be listened to” pile and your post prompted me to give it a listen. Sounds great. Not as slick (which is a good thing) as some of his later work which I am more familiar with. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

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