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Interview:
Jean-Luc Ponty Is Bad -- And Worldwide
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

Jean-Luc Ponty is a musician, not a geographer. But he was nevertheless mortified when the first pressings of his new album, whose title was inspired by Chile’s Acatama desert, appeared as “The Actama Experience.”

“Many people make that spelling mistake,” the 64-year-old jazz violinist says with a sigh, noting that the error will be corrected on future editions of the album. “Somehow in the chain between my management and the artwork people who do the packaging, they made it, too. When I found out, it was a too late.

“For some people, I guess, this is a new word. People from Chile probably thinks I’m referring to a different place ...”

That’s all that the classically trained Ponty — who became known in the rock world after recording with

Elton John, Frank Zappa and the Mahavishnu Orchestra — has to apologize for on “The Acatama Experience,” however. The album, his first of new material in six years, is a musical geography lesson, taking sonic sojourns through Ireland (“Celtic Steps”), India (“On My Way to Bombay”), his native France (a rendition of Bud Powell’s “Parisian Thoroughfare”) and, of course, South America on the title track and “Desert Crossing.”

Ponty wrote much of the material in-between live dates around the world in 2005 and 2006, but he doesn’t view the album strictly as a chronicle of those trips.

“I would not say that the music was directly influenced by travel,” he explains, “but the impressions of traveling sometimes accord with musical ideas I had and made me develop them.

“The travels, to make it simpler, were inspiring.”



Jean-Luc Ponty & His Band perform at 8 p.m. Friday (June 1st) at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, 350 Madison Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $39.50-$62. Call (313) 887-8501 or visit www.musichall.org.

Web Site: www.musichall.org

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