Despite his obvious talent, the back catalog of French jazz-fusion violinist Jean-Luc Ponty unfortunately tends to be a bit scattered in terms of quality. You’ve got fully formed near-masterpieces (Upon the Wings of Music, Enigmatic Ocean, Open Mind), uneven releases that have their moments (“I Only Feel Good With You” and “Ethereal Mood” on Cosmic Messenger, “New Country” and “The Gardens of Babylon” on Imaginary Voyage, “Infinite Pursuit” and “Cats Tales” on Fables), and fairly forgettable bores (The Gift of Time, Tchokola). Luckily, Individual Choice most decidedly fits into that first category; in fact, it is easily one of his best albums.
Whereas his work just previous to it was pretty transitional and slightly suffered from struggling between the more “traditional” jazz of Ponty’s old work and “modern” electronic style he was gradually evolving into,Choice ditches the former entirely and completely embraces the latter, and this newfound sense of confidence–apparent right from the superb synthesizer-laden opener, “Computer Incantations for World Peace” (a song ironically sounding more fit for a really tense “action movie” scene than any real “peaceful” scenarios)–is simply wonderful.
Even better, the twolonger,spaciertracks following “Computer”, “Far From the Beaten Paths” and “In Spiritual Love”, are arguably just as good, with “Eulogy To Oscar Romero” being a touchinglyminimalistic tribute to the assassinated Archbishop of the same name and “In Spite of All” serving as a solid closer that's engaging enough for me to forgive the slightly weaker “Nostalgia” and title track before it. Probably the best place for those in the dark about Ponty to start.