the top 10 reasons to go see jean-luc ponty

In anticipation of Saturday’s performance by Jean-Luc Ponty at the Singletary Center for for the Arts, as well as a preface to a detailed interview we will feature here on Friday that was conducted recently with the jazz violin giant by phone from Paris, we offer this primer. Here we have, in chronological order, 10 albums spanning 40 years that detail the emotive depth, stylistic invention and sheer fun that make up the music of Jean-Luc Ponty.

+ Sunday Walk (1967) – Though not officially his debut recording, this expressive quartet session was widely viewed as Ponty’s international introduction. The band included pianist Wolfgang Dauner, who still performs duo concerts with Ponty.

+ King Kong (1969) – A wonderfully animated record devoted almost exclusively to the compositions of Frank Zappa that shifts from the wistful quartet reading of Idiot Bastard Son to the 20 minute Music for Electric Violin and Low Budget Orchestra.

+ New Violin Summit (1971) – A long out-of-print concert recording that lands Ponty squarely in fusion territory. Having Dauner, guitarist Terje Rypdal and prog rock hero Robert Wyatt on drums as a rhythm section enhances the electric spirit.

+ Visions of the Emerald Beynold (1975) – The final Mahavishnu Orchestra collaboration featuring Ponty and guitarist John McLaughlin. Hearing the two musically butt heads on Eternity’s Breath, Part 2 remains a beautifully fearsome experience.

+ Imaginary Voyage (1976) – A watershed fusion recording, Imaginary Voyage sported expansive compositions (the four part title tune), a solo violin work drenched in echo effects (Wandering on the Milky Way) and even a bluegrass/bop hit (New Country).

+ Cosmic Messenger (1978) – Arguably the finest and most popular of Ponty’s Atlantic albums, Cosmic Messenger was a tighter but denser exercise with layers of keyboards and guitars augmenting Ponty’s increasingly otherworldly violin sound.

+ Individual Choice (1983) – The first of two largely unaccompanied albums where Ponty created compositions dominated as much by synthesizers as violin. Among the very few guests: bass guitarist and future American Idol judge Randy Jackson.

+ Tchokola (1991) – A career changing album that unplugged Ponty from computers and sequencers in favor of grooves from Senegal, Cameroon and Nigeria. The album’s heavily West African cast is still reflected in Ponty’s live performances today.

+ The Rite of Strings (1995) – A summit featuring three of fusion music’s foremost celebs (Ponty, bassist Stanley Clarke and guitarist Al DiMeola) playing in an entirely acoustic setting. A 1975 Ponty fusion classic, Renaissance, becomes a perfect fit for the sessions.

+ The Acatama Experience (2007) – While guitar pals Allan Holdsworth and Philip Catherine make cameos, Acatama de-emphasizes guitar and electric playing for a gentler but no less absorbing sound. The unplugged solo piece Desert Crossing is a mind-blower.

Jean-Luc Ponty and His Band perform at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Singletary Center for the Arts. Tickets: $25, $28 and $32. Call (859) 257-4929.


Post-Tribune (IN) April 6, 2007 THIS ELECTRONIC VERSION MAY DIFFER SLIGHTLY FROM PRINTED VERSION Alex’s Cafe Rating: HHH Price range: $ The fish buffet reels hungry diners in to Alex’s Cafe, housed in a converted schoolhouse in Hobart. Walleye, perch, shrimp and rainbow trout are among the featured fish on the buffet table, as are pierogi, Bourbon Street chicken, cevapi and more. Try to leave room for dessert.

7305 Grand Blvd., Hobart Phone: 942-2300 Fiesta Palace Rating: HHH Price range: $ A small restaurant inside a big building, Fiesta Palace has a small menu, but the food is big in taste and size. Tacos, burritos and Carne Asada, typical Mexican fare, are on the menu, as are some not-so-typical items such as the appetizer Queso Panela. Come with a hearty appetite, because portions are large.

6220 Broadway, Merrillville Phone: 887-3377 Amarillo Roadhouse Rating: HHH Price range: $ The promise of all-you-can-eat shrimp and buckets of free peanuts lure you into Amarillo Roadhouse in Schererville. Hefty servings of steak, chicken, seafood, sandwiches and more bring you back to this family-friendly restaurant. The baked sweet potato is a special treat.

1924 Indianapolis Blvd., Schererville Phone: 322-1142 Mia Cucina Rating: HHH Price range: $$ Located at Aberdeen in Valparaiso, this restaurant offers a variety of chicken and pork items and sandwiches, with pasta having the widest selection. Servings are generous and delicious, and be sure to leave room for dessert. Appetizers range from the basic bruschetta to the more unique tomato fondue.

210 Aberdeen Drive, Valparaiso Phone: 548-3300 Joey’s Seafood & Grill Rating: HHHH Price range: $$ Seafood says it all for Joey’s, as it’s offered in so many ways. Fish and chips, shrimp any way you want it, ocean fish, lobster and more seafood highlights the menu. Portions are healthy and entrees come with warm corn muffins and two sides. here carne asada marinade

936 Joliet St., Dyer Phone: 322-9595 Three Floyds Brewing Co. & Brewpub Rating: HHH1/2 Price range: $ While beer is a major draw to this location, the food is also good enough to make a return trip worthwhile. From half-pound sirloin burgers to brick-oven pizza, steaks to fish and chips, portions are hearty and cooked to order. Several unique sandwiches are offered too, so there’s lots of choice, all done well. Service is friendly and attentive.

9750 Indiana Parkway, Munster Phone: 922-4425 Northside Tap Rating: HHH1/2 Price range: $ This former restaurant, bar and hotel now only offers food and libations, but what it does is done well. Bar food is the theme, with burgers, sandwiches and munchies — like cheese sticks, onion rings and chicken tenders — the main attractions. Hot wings are popular, as is the Italian beef sandwich. Portions are huge and you order at the bar.

712 Calumet Ave., Valparaiso Phone: 465-0885 Baker’s House Bakery, Cafe and Catering Rating: HHHH Price range: $ This tiny house serves as cafe, bakery, caterer and gourmet food shop. Cafe offerings include sandwiches like pulled pork, turkey, tuna, chicken and more, to soups like broccoli cheddar. Breakfast foods are also abundant, with bagels, muffins, Danish, doughnuts and quiche. Many foods are available to take home as well.

6004 Miller Ave., Gary (Miller) Phone: 938-9931 Maxine’s Rating: HHHH Price range: $$$ Although billed as continental cuisine, the menu leans toward the Italian part of the continent. Pasta selections abound, with sauces ranging from olive oil to marinara to pesto. There are also entrees of steak, pork and seafood if pasta’s not your dish. All was well prepared and service was prompt and courteous.

521 Franklin St., Michigan City Phone: 872-4500 TJ’s Steakhouse Rating: HHH Price range: $$$$ This chic and intimate hideaway compares well to some of the best steakhouses in Chicago. While appe-tizers like escargot, blue point oysters and crab cakes are excellent, the steak entrees are expertly prepared. And the soup is divine.

777 Resorts Blvd., East Chicago Phone: 378-3330 El Salto Rating: HHHH Price range: $ One of three El Salto locations in Northwest Indiana, this newest site offers superb Mexican fare in the old Munster town hall building. Variety is the key here, with 30 combination plates, lots of dinner specials, house specials, special combinations and fajitas. Food is well presented, well served and well timed.

805 Ridge Road, Munster Phone: 836-0600 Dish Rating: HHHH Price range: $$$ Though located in a strip mall, this restaurant offers far more than standard fare. Daily specials are offered and can include such varied offerings as angel hair pasta, risotto, ribeye or mahi mahi. Menu entrees include steaks, pasta and seafood. Food and service are all first rate. here carne asada marinade

3907 N. Calumet Ave., Valparaiso Phone: 465-9221 Chuck & Irene’s Rating: HH1/2 Price range: $ This eatery is more bar than restaurant and serves up fare typically found at bars, including a long list of sandwiches — burgers, hot dogs, ham, sausage, etc. The daily menu features a couple of steak and taco choices. There are also daily specials, as well.

6110 Kennedy Ave., Hammond Phone: 844-9812 Bogie’s Restaurant and Bar Rating: HH1/2 Price range: $ The menu here features a long list of sandwiches, from Italian beef to British chicken, as well as burgers, pasta dishes and “homemade” favorites. Service is great and the food is fair.

391 W. U.S. 6, Valparaiso Phone: 764-1154 Naughty Grapes Rating: HHH1/2 Price range: $$ While the menu here is limited, what’s on it is done well. Entree offerings included Mediterranean chicken pasta, filet mignon, shrimp scampi, black-pepper seared salmon and sauteed tilapia. Seating is also limited in the main dining area, but a piano bar is available as well.

513 N. Main St., Crown Point Phone: 661-9002 Gentleman Tom’s Hideaway Rating: HHH Price range: $ This nearly hidden hideaway offers entrees like steaks, pork chops, ham, chicken and surf and turf, but only Wednesday through Saturday nights. On Tuesdays, it’s all-you-can-eat pizza for $3. Not just a slice or two of pizza, but a full 12-inch pie starts you off for a full night of eating.

5830 W. County Road 1250N, DeMotte Phone: 987-5186 El Charro Rating: HHHH Price range: $ Authentic Mexican dishes highlight the extensive menu here. Steak, chicken, pork and beef combination plates share space with shrimp and fish selections. Combination plates are served with rice and beans, and tortilla chips and salsa hit the table when you sit down.

5031 E. 81st Ave. (U.S. 30), Hobart Phone: 947-1737 Great Wall Buffet Rating: HHHH Price range: $ A wide variety of Szechuan, Hunan, Cantonese and Mandarin cuisine graces the buffet tables at this low-key eatery. All the food is hot, freshly prepared and tasty. Items range from egg drop soup to seafood to American fare.

5920 U.S. 6, Portage Phone: 763-7776 Popolano’s Edibles & Spirits Rating: HHHH Price range: $$ Tucked into a renovated, two-story home in Chesterton, this restaurant boasts mainly Italian food. Pizza, pastas and sandwiches highlight the entrees, with everything tasty and filling. A wide variety of martinis is also available for those in search of a tasty cocktail as well.

222 S. Calumet Road, Chesterton Phone: 926-5552 Akropolis Rating: HHH1/2 Price range: $$ Expect a culinary trip to the Greek isles during a visit here. Hot and cold appetizers start the meal, with choices ranging from octopus to saganaki (flaming cheese). Entrees include authentic Greek dishes like gyros, dolmades and spanakotiropita, as well as seafood and pasta.

275 Joliet St., Dyer Phone: 864-1889

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