WBGO Radar

Valery Ponomarev: Our Father Who Art Blakey

Valery Ponomarev
Growing up in Soviet Russia as a budding jazz musician, trumpeter Valery Ponomarev's first Art Blakey record was the Blue Note classic "Moanin'", with trumpeter Lee Morgan. Imagine the course taken when Ponomarev came to the U.S. In 1973, meeting his hero and eventually  becoming a Jazz Messenger! Since then, Valery continued to build a following with his on fire approach to his instrument. With his own compositions, he's given us a spirit feel for his homeland, showed his heart for standards and breathed fire alongside Kenny Barron and Joe Henderson, among many other notables of our music. Valery's book, On The Flip Side of Sound , he shows from deep in his own life the internationalism of jazz that fills the tank of the player and captures the ear of the fan.
With Ponomarev's new release, "Our Father Who Art Blakey", Valery lives what has to be any Messenger's dream; to do this music in a big band setting, a natural  setting for Blakey music, considering the drummer's early work with the bands of Earl "Fatha" Hines, Duke Ellington and Billy Eckstine.
When Bobby Timmon's "Moanin" opens this set, you know of the seriousness of intention,  set in granite as Benny Golson comes on stage making the first of two appearances. This is followed by Freddie Hubbard's "Crisis", from the 1961 "Mosaic" recording. This one's big band dressing seems so comfortable for the trumpet playing of Josh Evans, a young messenger for what's ahead, followed by tenor saxist Steve Carrington and trombonist Stafford Hunter.
Captured live on stages at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola and Zinc Bar in New York City, Valery Ponomarev's big bad group of friends, including drummer Victor Jones, (so perfect for this Bu review), show that timelessness of music is about. You'll hear it after spending some time with "Our Father Who Art Blakey" which comes out January 8th from Zoho Music.
Gary Walker, WBGO Music Director

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