Jean-Luc Ponty: Original Album Series

The violin virtuoso’s first five albums for Atlantic. Bargain!

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These Original Album Series bundles may be sparsely packaged, but at under 20 sheets each, they’re a budget boon for prog fans. Billy Cobham’s box is on the facing page, the Yes set was reviewed in last month’s issue, and here we get Jean-Luc Ponty’s extraordinary mid-70s output for Atlantic. It was with these albums that the Frenchman asserted himself both as a name act and one of fusion’s most lively talents.

His Atlantic debut, 1975’s Upon The Wings Of Music, features future live favourite Bowing-Bowing. That same year came Aurora, which still sounds fresh, with the playful Renaissance and the two-part title track showing off Ponty’s peerless chops and melodic sense. Future Genesis guitarist Daryl Stuermer plays on this and also on the following year’s Imaginary Voyage. (It’s four-part title track took up the whole of second side of the original vinyl - now that’s a magic period detail no CD set can capture.)

In 1977, Enigmatic Ocean would become his first Number One album on the US jazz chart and the equally mesmerising, none-more-prog Cosmic Messenger followed a year later.

Ponty’s purple patch is only sweetened by the bargain price of this neat selection.