Jean-Luc Ponty (born September 29, 1942, Avranches, France) was a French violinist.
He started on violin at the age of five, taught by his father (the Director of the School of Music in Avranches), while his mother tutored him on piano. At 15, he was accepted into the Paris Conservatoire, and ultimately won the "Premier Prix" at age 17. A stint in the "Concerts Lamoureux Orchestra" for three years ensued, during which he became interested in jazz (playing it first on the clarinet and tenor sax). Ponty visited the U.S. for the first time in 1967, at a Monterey Jazz Festival workshop. He signed with a record label, and began working with an "unknown" pianist, George Duke.
Through the label, Jean-Luc met FZ, who had been hired to arrange his music for Ponty's next album. This arrangement led to Jean-Luc providing violin for Hot Rats, and to his touring with Frank in '70 & '73. Along with Hot Rats, Ponty provided violin and/or baritone violin for Over-Nite Sensation, Apostrophe ('), Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar set, You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 6, and The Lost Episodes; also for the Beat The Boots series disks Piquantique (BTB) & Disconnected Synapses (BTB).
FZ and Jean-Luc Ponty ended their relationship on less than friendly terms; though it would appear that their relationship was beneficial for both. Jean-Luc became a pioneer of the electric violin in jazz-rock in the '70s, augmenting it with devices associated with Zappa: like echoplex, distortion boxes, phase shifters, and wah-wah pedals.
There are other parralels: (from an interview in "le jazz" (webzine), 4/22/1997, by Alain Le Roux) Ponty - "Improvisation is sometimes equal and often greater [than composing]. What I write is actually improvised, since I improvise the material first...in my own productions since the 1980's, I use the synclavier. I record some ideas immediately, digitally, in the synclavier, then I come back later and add other layers on top, and so on. Of course there are some sections left open for [even more]] improvisation."
In 2015 Ponty collaborated with Jon Anderson from the band Yes.