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.
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.
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).
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!
Get more of a good thing
Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.