This week, Ira Sternberg spoke with Jean-Luc Ponty.
World-renowned violinist and jazz musician Jean-Luc Ponty, bringing his “Atlantic Years” tour to Aliante Casino & Hotel June 10, was a violin virtuoso from his early teens.
Ponty’s love of jazz began when he picked up the clarinet to play with a college jazz band. He was inspired by the likes of Miles Davis and John Coltrane to pick up the tenor saxophone shortly after. Ponty became known as the most prominent “jazz fiddle” player as he incorporated his violin into jazz performances.
At age 22, Ponty released his first album, “Jazz Long Playing,” and shortly after, his first live album. His technique caught the eye of the Modern Jazz Quartet, who invited him to play at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1967. From there, Ponty secured a record label contract and began cranking out popular jazz albums.
In 1969, Ponty teamed up with Frank Zappa for the first of eight albums the two would collaborate on, and caught the ear of Elton John, who asked him to contribute to his 1972 release “Honky Chateau.”
Ponty’s star continued to rise, releasing 12 consecutive albums in the 1970’s as well as partnering with a variety of musicians and symphony orchestras to play his unique music. More recently, Ponty has been touring the world with a variety of musicians.
He has released more than 35 solo albums and compilations, and has performed with countless orchestras around the world. His show’s lineup includes his “Atlantic Years Band,” featuring Jamie Glaser on guitars; Wally Minko on keyboards; Baron Browne on bass; and Rayford Griffin on drums.