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Valery Ponomarev: A Star for You

I haven’t heard every album the Russian trumpeter plays on, but this one must rank at or near the top. Ponomarev exhibits great exuberance-with technique to match. Conceptually, he suggests a more bubbly, less ironic Lee Morgan (one of his predecessors with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers) and a bebop-oriented Kenny Wheeler. The trumpeter’s mood and energy inspire his quintet, especially tenor saxophonist Bob Berg and powerhouse drummer Billy Hart. Pianist Sid Simmons, a spare, linear player, is a good change of pace. Bassist Ken Walker (nice surname for a bassist) has a fine tone and plays neat, leapfrogging solo lines.

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