The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with The George Duke Trio is a jazz album released in 1969 by Jean-Luc Ponty on World Pacific Jazz in the US, and is considered to be one of the earliest jazz fusion albums. This was the third album of note for pianist George Duke.
The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with The George Duke Trio album was recorded live in Hollywood, California in mid-September, 1969. A number of Jazz musicians were experimenting with the jazz-rock fusion that would become so popular in the 1970s, but Jean-Luc Ponty is one of the earliest to get it down on vinyl. Ponty was inspired by Miles Davis to explore this new fusion form, and is considered the first significant jazz musician to record on the electric violin. Later, in the 1970s, he pioneered the use of 5 & 6-string violins and was the first to combine the violin with MIDI, distortion boxes, phase shifters, and wah-wah pedals (Wikipedia).
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden
This live date by violinist Jean-Luc Ponty marks a transitional period in his career, where he was making the switch from an acoustic to an electric rhythm section, but prior to his incorporation of banks of synthesizers and special effects. One of several recordings he made with keyboardist George Duke in 1969 (they would later work together under Frank Zappa for a brief stretch in the early ’70s), this set opens with Duke’s very catchy “Foosh,” a choppy mix of modal and funk. Wolfgang Dauner’s meandering “Pamukkale” is a bit of a disappointment. Ponty’s “Contact” is easily the most adventurous track of the set, featuring the leader’s furious violin. Their treatment of Herbie Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island” is fairly straight-ahead, without any particular surprises, though it might have been more interesting had Duke been playing a grand piano instead of a muddy-sounding electric piano. Bassist John Heard and drummer Dick Berk pretty much stick to timekeeping roles. This English LP, released by Sunset, is identical in musical content to the World Pacific LP initially released in the U.S. as Live at Thee Experience.
“Foosh” (George Duke) – 8:48
“Pamukkale” (Wolfgang Dauner) – 6:15
“Contact” (Jean-Luc Ponty) – 7:03
“Cantaloupe Island” (Herbie Hancock) – 8:20
“Starlight, Starbright” (Jean-Bernard Eisinger) – 9:00
Jean-Luc Ponty – electric violin
George Duke – electric piano
John Heard – bass
Dick Berk – drums