Music review: Valery Ponomarev Quintet
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review: Valery Ponomarev Quintet at The Jazz Bar (Venue 57), reviewed by Jim Gilchrist
Valery Ponomarev knows how to blow his own trumpet, in every sense. He genially instructs us to give the loudest possible applause, he plugs his autobiography, which is on sale at the door (recounting, in fairness, a highly eventful life), he shows off his natty, “French Impressionist” jacket, but then, when he gets down to it, he blows his trumpet, literally and with a vengeance, much to the delight of the Jazz Bar audience.
Ponomarev, now touching 70 but still a forceful and creative player, fled Soviet Russia in the 1970s to pursue his jazz dreams and ended up playing with the hugely influential Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, for whom his powerful, post-bop playing still carries a fiery torch, as he demonstrated here in the nicely balanced company of Konrad Wiszniewski on tenor sax and a tight rhythm section of pianist Paul Kirby, double-bassist Andy Robb and mein host at the Jazz Bar, Bill Kyle, on drums.
Right from the opening Gina, with Ponomarev deploying terse, staccato runs, this was a fast-travelling band, easing up a little for the tuneful, bossa-style No Problem, with brazen flurries of notes from Ponomarev and big, singing tones from Wiszniewski, while Kirby ranged exuberantly about the keyboard.
The band continued to gel nicely, with a swinging brassy lead and some fine springy basswork from Robb in another Blakey number, One by One, while, from the same stable, Horace Silver’s Quicksilver lived up to its title, with Wiszniewski in particular letting rip. By way of contrast, the horns left the stage for the remaining piano trio to give a sweet and shimmering account of Duke Ellington’s Prelude to a Kiss. Trumpet and sax then returned for further tight unison playing, squalling together querulously before breaking off into forceful solos.
Ponomarev may like to drum up applause, but the roar of approval which ended the set was entirely unsolicited.
Until 25 August. Today 10pm
Originally published in The Scotsman