Although it may take a while (if ever) for Pongsakorn "Win" Lertvanitsutha to become a household name outside his native land, the twenty-nine-year-old trumpeter from Thailand makes an impressive debut on Yes, It Is!
, a buoyant studio session, recorded in Italy, that makes room for a brace of guest appearances by Pongsakorn's mentor, Jim Rotondi
. Besides leading his tight-knit quartet, Pongsakorn wrote seven of the album's eight numbers to complement the lone standard, Leo Robin / Ralph Rainger's lovely ballad "If I Should Lose You," recast here as a rhythmic Latin theme.
Two things are clear from the outset: Pongsakorn has a keen melodic ear, and either he heard a lot of jazz while growing up in Thailand or he simply took to the idiom like a duck to water. In either case, Pongsakorn displays a lissome, burnished style reminiscent of such masters as Blue Mitchell
, Carmell Jones
, Marvin Stamm
, Bobby Shew
or the above-mentioned Mr. Rotondi. When called on to bare his chops, as he is on "I Think She Likes Ketchup" or "Mama Used to Say" (both with Rotondi, the second showcasing muted horns), Ponsakorn affirms that his fingers are as nimble as his perception. He is equally comfortable at more moderate tempos, as on the gossamer "Dear Little Daisy," wherein he and pianist Matyas Gayer
fashion exquisite solos.
Speaking of Gayer, the Hungarian-born pianist helps form a sharp and flexible rhythm section whose other members are Ukrainian drummer Oleg Markov
and bassist Milan Nikolic
who is from the Balkans. Gayer is a superb accompanist / soloist who shines on piano or Fender Rhodes (as on "Ketchup" and the exhilarating "First Snow in Graz"). "November 21" is another medium-tempo charmer, as is the curiously named "You Are So Beautiful That" (spotlighting Pongsakorn's muted trumpet again). The quartet opens with a more emphatic Pongsakorn original, "Green and Yellow," on which Gayer takes the album's first solo and later trades crisp four-bar volleys with the leader.
From its humble beginnings here in the States, jazz has truly circled the globe, and it is a pleasure (though hardly surprising) to hear such bright and perceptive adherents as Pongsakorn and his European colleagues performing the music so eloquently. For an introductory endeavor, Yes, It Is!
well above the norm.
Green and Yellow; If I Should Lose You; You’re So Beautiful That; I Think She Likes Ketchup; Dear Little Daisy; First Snow in Graz; November 21; Mama Used to Say.