If you judge by the surname that Clara's the daughter of Jean-Luc Ponty, then you're exactly right, and if you expect somewhat the same smooth jazz-rock, you're pretty much correct in that respect as well, as the piano playing chanteuse has inherited many of her father's laudable virtues while laying down her own smooth, graceful, and very refreshing sonic stamp. Trust me when I tell you that this kind of music is badly needed as an offset to our very troubled times, but don't, when I say that everything here is very positivist, imagine a New Age syrup-fest of goopy nonsense—not all, as Ms. Ponty is more in a league with Sally Oldfield, Kate St. John, Annie Haslam, that sort of realist Romantic approach, much of the sentiment augmented by lyricist Mike McGurk and others.
Speaking of St. John, I was more than once reminded of Channel Light Vessel and Roger Eno's chamber sensibilities in that underacclaimed ensemble, as Ponty knows why Ravel, Debussy, Satie, Faure, and others crafted their works as they did, especially when she takes their work into the next stage in modern modes. There's likewise often a broad element of Reichian / Nymanesque serial patterning in her delicate plying of the keys, an entrancing wont providing a gently compelling understructure to many tracks. Then her voice: very soothing, dreamy, filled with misty light, quietly alive with a refined sensuality. She doesn't sound like Astrud Giberto but is possessed of a similar sense of elevated eros, of balmy pastorale and the sense of departing the rough clime of the lands we know, the tumultuous landscapes of war and predation. You'd certainly place the work of the two on the same shelf.
Though each song features adept musicians, with pop Jean-Luc and Nigel Kennedy on several tracks, the center of all the eddying breezes, the slowly liquefying effervescence, and the wistful environments is Ponty herself, everything a setting for her encantations and piano. Into the Light is a reflective disc occasionally spiking upwards in The Phoenix, appropriately enough, and in the instrumental Coeur a Coeur, but engendering much more a thoughtful and projective milieu, an escape into what should be, not what it is, something, as I said, we are badly in need of.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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