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Valery Ponomarev: Beyond the Obvious

Valery Ponomarev chose an appropriate title for his latest release, since the trumpeter comes from a hard-bop perspective-an “obvious” style that he takes one step beyond the norm as an authoritative soloist, writer and arranger. Ponomarev assembled a pianoless quartet for this session, and the band-Don Braden (tenor sax), Martin Zenker (bass), Jerome Jennings (drums)-responds to the liberation with performances that don’t need the instrument to ground them.

No less than three tracks are built on blues structures. The opening “You Dig, I Hear You, You Know What I Mean, Etc.” finds Ponomarev alone blowing choruses of long, melodic lines, quick ideas and high shrieks over Zenker’s double stops and Jennings’ rolls. He adds a minor interlude to the theme of Lee Morgan’s staccato “Party Time” that brings added dimension to that 12-bar structure. The stop-start theme of “From Cat to Nat” combines a 16-bar A section with a bridge and a key change in the final section.

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