An '87 recording of prototype Ponder; soul jazz and blues played with energy and a slick, yet resourceful conviction. Ponder has never gotten the profile or the exposure he deserves; he doesn't use gimmicks or crank up the volume, but his tasty fills, clever riffs, and crisp, bluesy solos are always worthwhile.
On his seventh date as a leader, trumpeter Wallace Roney is clearly shaking the comparisons to Miles Davis, even while covering some of the same ground as the late jazz legend. Backed by his talented wife, Geri Allen (who is a gifted composer and adventurous bandleader herself), bassist Christian McBride, and first-call drummer Kenny Washington, Roney's fresh look at Davis' "Solar" is well worth investigating, while the spirited rendition of Charlie Parker's "Ah-Leu-Cha" features Washington driving the leader and guest tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, while adding some wild arco bass by McBride.
If you're going to pillage someone else's ideas, then go for broke. Because even if you find yourself crammed between the barriers of creative space, utterly at a loss for ideas, expression, or thought, you'd still have a self-respect buzzing in your ear like a mad angelic insect, putting down the newspaper and taking out a cigar to remind you that, hell, if want to sound like Radiohead when even Thom Yorke doesn't want to sound like Radiohead, you might as well take it to preposterous, bombastic, over-the-top levels. Add church organs, mental electronics, riffs bouncing off each other like the monolithic screams in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and you'll finally be in position to crack skulls like coconuts and make the world's speakers ooze gooey blood.
Bassist Buster Williams had one of his few opportunities to lead a record session on this diverse set which has been reissued on CD (with an alternate take of "I Dream Too Much" added to the original program). Of the six selections, Williams has a duet apiece with Kenny Barron (who plays electric piano), pianist Jimmy Rowles and vibraphonist Roy Ayers ("My Funny Valentine"). Two other numbers feature the quartet of Williams, Ayers, Barron and drummer Billy Hart while the leader's original "Prism" has the quartet joined by singer Suzanne Klewan and percussionist Nobu Urushiyama. The music ranges from slightly commercial to introspective and hard swinging, and its variety (plus an opportunity to hear bassist Williams in the lead) are two good reasons for postbop jazz collectors to pick up this CD.
In the early days of his career, trumpeter Wallace Roney was tagged as being yet another Miles Davis-influenced player, though a focused hearing of his fourth CD as a leader will demonstrate how much he was developing his own voice on this exciting hard bop session with tenor saxophonist Gary Thomas, pianist Donald Brown (like the leader, an alum of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers), bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Cindy Blackman. Roney's furious "Obsession" crackles with energy, showcasing the trumpeter, Thomas, and Brown. McBride contributed the loping, bluesy "Black Moon," while Blackman's "Scenario One" is full of twists, dominated by her drums.