Jimmy Ponder: Somebody’s Child

Jimmy Ponder is a soul-jazz stalwart who occasionally crosses over into the straight-ahead side. His bluesiness is deep-seated and his Wes-inspired approach of playing octaves with his thumb lends a different kind of pop on this outstanding session, where he is accompanied by a talented crew of fellow musicians from his hometown of Pittsburgh, augmented by respected New York drummer Greg Bandy. Together they exude a hip sense of loose interaction on Woody Shaw’s modal masterpiece “Moontrane,” on a burning rendition of the Miles Davis-Victor Feldman vehicle “Seven Steps to Heaven” and on Bill Lee’s buoyantly swinging “Who Will Be the One” (from the film She’s Gotta Have It by his son Spike Lee). Ponder’s inherent blues sense comes to the fore on his opener “Kickin’ Da Bobo” and on a relaxed rendition of Pharoah Sanders’ “The Creator Has a Master Plan,” while his other compositional contribution here, the introspective ballad “Somebody’s Child,” highlights his gentle, lyrical side. And for something completely different, he joins with producer Douglas Malone (on a Brazilian-made nylon acoustic guitar called a violao) for a lovely, samba-fied duet on “There Will Never Be Another You.”