Legendary drummer Kenny Clarke compared Jean-Luc Ponty to Dizzy Gillespie. Fellow violinist Stuff Smith marveled, “He plays violin like Coltrane plays saxophone.” Born in 1942, the French violinist Jean-Luc Ponty transported jazz violin playing into the world of modern jazz. On Frank Zappa’s urging, Ponty moved to the States in 1970. Over the next years he toured with Zappa, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Chick Corea’s “Return to Forever”.
In 1993 Ponty found the West African rhythms he had used in his project Tchokola, so rich, that he decided to use some of them again for No Absolute Time, “[…] but this time meld in my more familiar musical style. I also wrote all the material myself.“ For No Absolute Time, JLP chose to use a mixed band—the same bass player, Guy Nsangué and guitarist Martin Atangana, both from Cameroon, the same percussionist Abdou Mboup from Senegal plus Sydney Thiam from France, and the Moroccan drummer Moktar Samba. Ponty prepared all the background keyboards tracks and went to Paris to record the rhythm section. The rest of the album was recorded in Los Angeles with American keyboardist Wally Minko, and guitarist Kevin Eubanks as a guest on one track.
The electronic experimentation of Open Mind is back, but the music of West Africa is joyously ever present. The album exudes groove and shows Ponty deftly blending the electronic music he helped popularize with a variety of West African rhythms. Which he then improvises over in a clearly recognizable Jean-Luc Ponty style. The compositions are typically graceful, almost cosmopolitan.