Eminent jazz guitarist Jimmy Ponder returned to his native Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to record this session with regional, like-minded musicians. Back in the 1970s, Ponder's craft was prominently conveyed during his association with fiery organist Charles Earland and the soul-jazz ensembles led by saxophonist Lou Donaldson among other notables. Subsequently, he's amassed a hefty discography as a leader and a sideman. On this studio date, his modish and reverent combination of soul, jazz, blues and funk, spawns a delightful listening experience from beginning to end.
With a mixture of originals and tunes composed by others, the guitarist's classy articulations generate a radiant and thoroughly entertaining program. Regardless of momentum or pitch, the band pursues finger-snapping grooves. On trumpeter Woody Shaw's minor-classic "Moontrane Ponder steers the way atop a medium-tempo swing motif, fused with a snazzy bop rendering of the sinuous and memorable primary theme. And in other segments of this endeavor, Ponder's airy phrasings and animated single note lines take on vocal attributes amid an abundance of blustery jazz progressions.
The group kicks it into overdrive on Miles Davis/Victor Feldman's "Seven Steps to Heaven, where Ponder's fluent chord voicings are shaded with blues and funk. Consequently, it tempers the flow with a few warm and sensitive ballads, prominently transmitted via the leader's gliding notes and soulful strut during the standard "There Will Never Be Another You. Naturally, Ponder doesn't reinvent the wheel here but raises the ante via his distinct musical persona, largely graced by his enviable technique, clarity of execution and proclamation of good spirits.
Track Listing: Kickin' Da Bobo; Moontrane; Too Late Now; Wild is the Wind; Seven Steps to Heaven; Somebody's Child; Who Will Be the One; Somebody's Child Reprise; There Will Never Be Another You; The Creator Has a Master Plan.
Personnel: Jimmy Ponder: guitar; Howard Alexander: piano (1-6, 8, 10); Sonny Barbato: piano (7); Tony De Paolis: bass (6, 10); Jeff Grubbs: bass (1-5); Dr. Mike Taylor: bass (7); Greg Bandy: drums (1, 2, 4, 5, 10); George Heid: drums (3, 6, 7), percussion (4); Douglas Malone: violao (9).
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.