Russian expatriate Valery Ponomarev has been an impressive trumpeter from the time he arrived in the U.S. after fleeing his homeland. This 2005 session pairs him with several younger musicians, including seasoned tenor saxophonist Don Braden, bassist Martin Zenker, and Juilliard student Jerome Jennings, who the leader compares favorably with veteran drummers. With Braden stuck in traffic, Ponomarev improvised a blues to warm up with the others and ended up with the peppy opener "You Dig, I Hear You, You Know What I Mean, Etc." The trumpeter makes use of the full range of his instrument in his expressive solo, also trading licks with Jennings. The blend of trumpet and tenor sax in Lee Morgan's slinky "Party Time" gives the piece a bit of an eerie flavor. His arrangement of "Chelsea Bridge" has more of a mournful air than the typical bittersweet setting of this landmark Billy Strayhorn composition. Ornette Coleman's "The Blessing" proves very accessible and features some great interplay and a bit of arco bass by Zenker. Ponomarev's Latin-tinged "Sale on Love," a barely disguised reworking of Cole Porter's "Love for Sale," is a harmonically rich extended performance. The lack of a pianist is never a problem, as the musicians filled in the missing chords in their heads as they played their hearts out throughout this rewarding studio date.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden