519

On The Flip Side of Sound

By

Sign in to view read count
On The Flipside of Sound
Valery Ponomarev
Softcover; 316 pages
ISBN: 1438970463
ArtistHouse
2010

Valery Ponomarev's autobiographical tome tells the fascinating tale of the life of a working jazz musician from a uniquely personal perspective. The Moscow-born trumpeter, who became the first native of his country to achieve jazz fame in the United States when he joined Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, narrates his life story with wit and candor. Beginning with his early days growing up under the Soviet regime of which he speaks with frank disdain, the author tells of his initial attraction to the trumpet upon hearing the bugle fanfares at his summer camp and his first exposure to jazz following his acquisition of a black market recording of the Messengers' Moanin' album.

The trumpeter's recounting of difficulties involved in learning the idiom, although similar in many respects to the experiences of young American artists growing up outside of major US jazz centers, is made that much more poignant due to the complexities involved in playing music so inexorably linked to an avowed enemy of his own state.

Ponomarev's chronicling of his early days in New York, playing weddings while looking for jazz work, also tells a common story, but his outsider's point of view often make his observations that much more acute. His tales of hanging out and sitting in at places like the Five Spot, Boomers and the Village Gate bring to life a bygone era that has been largely undocumented.

Of course it is the trumpeter's four-year tenure with Blakey that is the most interesting aspect of his career and thankfully it occupies the bulk of the book, describing in some detail just what it was like to be on the road with one of the busiest bands of its time and the family-like bond among the group.

The final section of the book, while not as compelling, does shine a light on the contemporary jazz scene. A chapter recounting a road trip with Benny Golson describes the growing popularity of jazz in Russia; another, in which the author has his arm broken by Paris airport security, relates the horrors of touring in a post-9/11 world.


Shop

More Articles

Read The Blues: Why It Still Hurts So Good Book Reviews The Blues: Why It Still Hurts So Good
by Doug Collette
Published: February 20, 2017
Read The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1965 Book Reviews The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1965
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 11, 2017
Read Slim Harpo: Blues King Bee of Baton Rouge Book Reviews Slim Harpo: Blues King Bee of Baton Rouge
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 21, 2017
Read Paul Morley: The Age of Bowie Book Reviews Paul Morley: The Age of Bowie
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 25, 2016
Read "The Real Dixieland Book / Tunes Of The Twenties" Book Reviews The Real Dixieland Book / Tunes Of The Twenties
by Budd Kopman
Published: April 3, 2016
Read "The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1965" Book Reviews The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1965
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "Stan Levey: Jazz Heavyweight" Book Reviews Stan Levey: Jazz Heavyweight
by Chuck Koton
Published: December 4, 2016
Read "Why Jazz? A Concise Guide" Book Reviews Why Jazz? A Concise Guide
by Douglas Groothuis
Published: June 3, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!