Violin virtuoso Jean-Luc Ponty, touring behind Enigmatic Ocean in 1977 or ’78, at the Kenyon Sports Hall was my first “rock” concert. It certainly had the trappings of a rock show of the time: gurning long-hairs playing loud, flashy instruments, all witnessed by a bunch of blissed-out college students…and me. My father bought this record shortly after (helping it on its way to #1 in the US jazz charts).
Though he started in classical music and moved on to jazz (mentored by Jef Gilson, among others), this is as much a prog-rock affair (mile-a-minute solos on a phase shifted electric violin; ’round-the-houses key changes; funky fretless bass ostinati; not to mention provocative, if ultimately meaningless, song titles), without the vote-chasing unctuousness of that most reviled of hybrids, jazz-fusion; its familiarity no doubt paving the way to enjoyment in chez Asbo.
Though I listened to Enigmatic Ocean many times back in the day, I hadn’t given it or Ponty much though in the intervening years until recently when his name cropped up several times in the liner notes to Jazzman’s latter-day Jef Gilson compilations. My interest renewed, I even considered eBaying a copy, but decided to bide my time. My thrifty patience was rewarded this a.m. at the Great Chart boot fair just south of Ashford when I found this VG++ copy for only 20p.