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Jean-Luc Ponty

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Avranches, France (1942 – present)

Jean-Luc Ponty (b. 1942) is a virtuoso French violinist and composer.

Born on the 29th September 1942 in Avranches, France, he was trained as a professional classical violinist at the Paris Conservatory. His attraction to jazz was propelled by Miles Davis’s and John Coltrane’s music.

He has worked with Stéphane Grappelli, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Frank Zappa, and has appeared on over seventy recordings.

In 1977 Ponty pioneered the use of the five-string electric violin, with a lower C string. He sometimes also uses a six-string electric violin called the violectra, with low C and F strings – not to be confused with the violectra he played from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s which had four strings, but tuned an octave lower. He was among the first to combine the violin with MIDI, distortion boxes, phase shifters, and wah-wah pedals. This resulted in his signature, almost synthesiser-like sound.

In 2005 Ponty formed the acoustic fusion supergroup Trio! with bassist Stanley Clarke and banjo player Bela Fleck.

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