|In 1967, John Lewis of The Modern Jazz Quartet invited Ponty to perform at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Jean-Luc's first -ever American appearance received thunderous applause. He signed a U.S. recording contract with World Pacific. His reputation grew, and he was soon in demand by recording artists worldwide.
In 1969, Frank Zappa composed the music for Jean-Luc's solo album King Kong. In 1972 he played on Elton John's Honky Chateau album. The Mothers of Invention invited Ponty to tour with them. It was through his contact with progressive rock that Ponty began experimenting with electronics and electric instruments. By 1973 Ponty had emigrated to the U.S. with his wife and daughters. In 1975 he signed on as a solo artist with Atlantic records.
This gave Ponty the opportunity to form his own band. There's a video of Ponty from around this time at the bottom of the page!
Over the next ten years Ponty recorded a dozen albums, all of which reached the top 5 on the Billboard Jazz charts. Besides touring with his own group, Ponty performed some of his compositions with the New Music Ensemble of Pittsburgh, the Radio City Orchestra in New York City and several major symphony orchestras.
In 1990 and 91, Ponty combined the sounds of his acoutsic and electric violins with the polyrhythmic sounds of West Africa. He had met several African musicians who had moved to Paris, and decided to collaborate with them. "There is a whole scene in Paris of top-notch African musicians," Ponty said. "I was very curious, and wanted to educate myself in these rhythms, which were totally new to my ears.
" The result was the collaboration album Tchokola.
Since that time Ponty has continued to work, performing and recording with jazz greats, with his African ensemble, and even played duets with Vadim Repin, the young Russian classical violin star.