163

Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson featuring Valery Ponomarev: Panorama

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson with Valery Ponomarev – PANORAMA. Imaginary Records 010; Released 1998. The last two SS&F records were strictly trios; while the group enjoys exploring their dynamics, this time they wanted more. Jeff Siegel says “we also enjoy mixing it up with other players – particularly horn players”; Tim Ferguson wanted “a special person ... able to contribute to it without disrupting its delicate balance.” That person was one-time Jazz Messenger Valery Ponomarev, who brought his talent and his three horns. The trio’s intimate interplay (they played togerther nine years) is there as always, but the new voice changes how the others react, and it changes the flavor of the disc. Don’t worry – it’s still delicious.

The piano charges strong on Siegel’s “Magical Spaces”, a blues in 6/8. While Stevens riffs loud, the theme by Valery is soft – it seems that he is comping for Stevens ! Valery’s solo is bolder, and tied close to the theme. Stevens hits the strong chords, sounding even more like Tyner than he did at the top. Valery wails high, and then falls down the stairs in a great series of tumbles. Stevens’ solo is strong, with much of the mood from his opening riff. Siegel’s work is full, with plenty or cymbals – appropriately, he sounds like Elvin Jones. Ferguson is more in the sideman role than on the trio dates; he is felt as a force, but is not a dominant musical presence.

Ferguson takes a funk turn on Ornette’s “Lonely Woman”; Stevens is sparse and bitter, in keeping with the airy sound. As this is Ornette, Valery picks up the pocket trumpet; his tone is full, and more assertive than the opener. Stevens starts his solo quiet, then builds a pattern which keeps getting faster. The other instruments are silenced as Stevens keeps moving, up to the Cecil Taylor level. Then he stops, and all is quiet taps and the occasional pluck. Valery solos without the piano; now Siegel goes wild, and when Stevens returns, it adds depth to the sound. A little more fury, and it returns to the mood it came in on.

“Julie’s Tabouleh” opens on a carnival atmosphere, with a sunny theme; the opening is “Airegin”, and the chords are close to “Indiana”. Ferguson gets his first solo, a fancy thing with active fingers. Valery is a joy; he dances while the cymbals urge him on. Stevens is bluesy, slamming the keys to major effect. Siegel’s solo reminds me of Cozy Cole’s on “Topsy”, and the carnival returns.

The trumpet is one thing you notice; another is the quality of the original songs. Siegel’s “Blue Heart” has a great feel that recalls the early ‘Sixties. (Stevens, with a dash of Wynton Kelly, rules this number.) Ferguson’s efforts are fun, especially the closer, “You Wait Here”. A piano tune if there ever was one, Stevens runs wild, and Valery will not be ignored. He brings two tunes, and “For You Only” is wonderful. These are generally simple, tuneful frameworks for the players to stretch on. With this level of interplay, it’s all they need.

Valery reacts throughout: more than a “guest star”, he does many things to meld with the group sound. On “dedication”, he is mellow and busy, he wrings the vibrato on “For You Only”, is brassy on “Blues for Elena”, and mutes up a storm on “Angelica”. His approach varies with the frequency of Stevens’, which makes him perfect for the group. He really shines on his own “For You Only”, a soft ballad with singing trumpet and a creeping bass solo. While Valery had known these guys before this, it’s the first time he’s recorded with the trio. You’ll wish it came sooner.

While some tracks are adventurous (“Magical Spaces”, “Lonely Woman”), this is mostly straight-ahead swinging. Ponomarev is warm or hot as needed, Stevens impresses me as always, and the rapport is tremendous. It’s a loving look at the trio, and how they react in new surroundings. As you might expect, very well indeed.


Title: Panorama | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Imaginary Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Bright Yellow with Bass CD/LP/Track Review Bright Yellow with Bass
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "Incidentals" CD/LP/Track Review Incidentals
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 23, 2017
Read "Special Night" CD/LP/Track Review Special Night
by Jim Trageser
Published: November 25, 2016
Read "Infinitude" CD/LP/Track Review Infinitude
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 31, 2016
Read "Let Your Mind...Space Out" CD/LP/Track Review Let Your Mind...Space Out
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 31, 2017
Read "Das Wohltemperierte Akkordeon" CD/LP/Track Review Das Wohltemperierte Akkordeon
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 12, 2017
Read "Back To Your Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Back To Your Heart
by Jeff Winbush
Published: January 13, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.