The Newton Theatre welcomes Jean-Luc Ponty
Violin legend to perform in August
Newton — Violin master Jean-Luc Ponty will perform at The Newton Theatre on August 23 at 8 p.m. Tickets, ranging from $44 to $59, went on sale last week.
Ponty is a pioneer and undisputed master of violin in the arena of jazz and rock. He is widely regarded as an innovator who has applied his unique visionary spin that has expanded the vocabulary of modern music.
Jean Luc's Atlantic Years Band includes Jamie Glaser on guitars; Wally Minko on keyboards; Baron Browne on bass; and Rayford Griffin on drums. All were members of JLP’s American bands through the 80s and together they will revisit JLP’s music from the 70s and 80s.
It has been a long, fascinating odyssey for Jean-Luc Ponty, who started out as a straight jazz violinist only to become a pioneer of the electric violin in jazz-rock in the '70s and an inspired manipulator of sequencers and synthesizers in the '80s. At first merely amplifying his violin in order to be heard, he switched over to electric violin and augmented it with devices that were associated with electric guitarists and keyboardists, like Echoplex machines, distortion boxes, phase shifters, and wah-wah pedals. Classically trained, with an unquenchable ability to swing when he wants to, and consumed by a passion for tight structures and repeating ostinatos, Ponty has been able to handle styles as diverse as swing, bop, free and modal jazz, jazz-rock, world music, and even country, mixing them up at will. Starting in 1977, he also pioneered the use of a five-string electric violin with a low C string. Undoubtedly, he rivals Stéphane Grappelli for the title of the most prominent and influential European jazz violinist.
In 1967, John Lewis of The Modern Jazz Quartet invited Ponty to perform at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Jean-Luc's first-ever American appearance garnered thunderous applause and led to a U.S. recording contract with the World Pacific label (Electric Connection with the Gerald Wilson Big Band, Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with the George Duke Trio). Through the late-60s and early 70s, Ponty achieved mounting critical praise and popularity across Europe. In turn, the violinist soon found his signature talents in demand by top recording artists the world over.
In 1969, Frank Zappa composed the music for Jean-Luc’s solo album King Kong (Blue Note). In 1972, Elton John invited Ponty to contribute to his Honky Chateau #1 hit album. Within a year - at the urging of Zappa who wanted him to join his band the Mothers of Invention - Ponty emigrated with his wife and two young daughters to America and made his home in Los Angeles. He continued to work on a variety of projects - including a pair of John McLaughlin/Mahavishnu Orchestra albums/tours (Apocalypse, Visions of the Emerald Beyond). In the meantime he became a prolific composer, signed on as a solo artist with Atlantic Records in early 1975, released his first album Upon The Wings Of Music that same year and started touring with his own band.
For the next decade, Jean-Luc toured the world repeatedly and recorded 12 consecutive albums which all reached the top 5 on the Billboard jazz charts and sold millions of copies. Early Atlantic recordings, such as 1976's Aurora and Imaginary Voyage, firmly established him as a figurehead in America's growing jazz-rock movement. He went on to crack the top 40 in 1977 with the Enigmatic Ocean album and again in 1978 with Cosmic Messenger. In 1984, a revolutionary video featuring time lapse images was produced by Louis Schwarzberg for Individual Choice. Along with Herbie Hancock, Ponty became one of the first jazz musicians to have a music video.
From the 80s to this day Ponty has been recording and touring around the world with his own groups and has done collaborations with other great musicians such as guitarists Allan Holdsworth, Al Di Meola, bassist Stanley Clarke, West African musicians, banjo player Bela Fleck, Lalo Schifrin, Chick Corea and Return To Forever IV, violinists Nigel Kennedy, Mark O'Connor, L. Subramaniam from India, classical violist and conductor Yuri Bashmet from Russia, pianist Wolfgang Dauner, guitarist Bireli Lagrene and singer Jon Anderson from Yes, and his daughter pianist-singer-composer Clara Ponty. Jean Luc has also performed his music with symphony orchestras in the U.S.A, Canada, Japan, Western and Eastern Europe, Brazil and Russia.
Jean Luc Ponty and his Atlantic Years Band perform August 23 at 8 pm at The Newton Theatre, 234 Spring Street in Newton, NJ. Tickets and information at www.TheNewtonTheatre.com or by calling 973-940-NEWT