The Boston Phoenix
Consider Valery Ponomarev, the Russian émigré trumpeter who immediately
preceded Wynton Marsalis in the Jazz Messengers. Abandoning the land of
giant steppes for the Harvard of hard bop should have made Ponomarev something
of a celebrity . . .. [On Trip To Moscow] Ponomarev is writing relaxed lines
with inviting twists that are straight out of the Blakey/Silver axis. He
is also blowing with a wide, cozy sound and ideas that . . . never outstrip
Leonard Feather, Los Angeles Times
. . . a major new soloist . . . from the Soviet Union. Listening to Valery Ponomarev on a blindfold-test basis, you could not possibly distinguish him from one of the more inspired and authentic of America's great black trumpeters in the driving, hard-bop jazz genre that is his chosen idiom.
Tim Price, Reading, PA News
. . . he's the most biting trumpet player Art Blakey has had since Lee Morgan.
John S. Wilson, The New York Times
But the most provocative soloist in the group is Valery Ponomarev, a Russian trumpeter who combines bristling attack with dazzling execution and a very neat, compact, controlled development of his solos.
Chuck Berg, Lawrence Journal-World
The star of the show is the amazing Ponomarev, With a gritty yet clean sound a neo-bop style, the trumpeter suggests the approach of his idol, the immortal Clifford Brown.
Stuart Troup, Newsday
Ponomarev is a force to be respected . . . his musicianship, long evident as a trumpeter, extends to composition and arranging as well.
Stephen Israel, The Times Herald Record
On the ballad I Remember Clifford, Ponomarev adds both guts and a sense of grandeur to the classic melody, stretching out long languid lines, then spewing tongue-twisting notes and shaping them into graceful phrases.
Thomas Albright, San Francisco Chronicle
. . . an outstanding young trumpeter . . . who has mastered a classically straight-ahead, Clifford Brown-inspired style distinguished as much by the pin-point accuracy and logic of his ideas as by its unwavering beat.
Nighthawk, The Gazette, Montreal
And Valery moves all over the music with a multitude of cadenzas each more brilliant.
Hollie I. West, The Washington Post
Ponomarev plays powerfully, with a staccato brilliance and burnished tone modeled upon his trumpet heroes - Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, and Fats Navarro.
Maria Klemen, Aquarian
Russia's contribution to the jazz world is an unassuming chap named Valery Ponomarev who blows trumpet like a man possessed and who can write with the best of them.
George Kanzler, The Newark Star-Ledger
Ponomarev is a fine, bright-toned trumpeter of considerable ability whose misfortune was to be succeeded in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers by the younger son of Ellis Marsalis. As a result, Valery's subsequent activities have attracted less attention than they might have deserved. A symptom of this is that it has taken so long for his band, Universal Language, to make this, its recording debut [on 'Means Of Identification']. Ponomarev's bristling originals have a jaunty martial kick . . . ["Means Of Identification" is] an exhilarating hard-bop outing.
Derek Ansell, Jazz Times
Ponomarev is now a solid hard bopper and he more that holds his own in the stalwart company of Henderson, Barron and the rhythm section. His tone is crisp, clean and has a welcome coating of mellow smoothness on slow numbers. His inventive phrases and bright, melodic attack mark him out as an original trumpet stylist . . . Ponomarev's glowing choruses on Time make this the jewel in the album's crown, although the entire CD is full of bristling, biting mainstream jazz.
Scott Yanow, Trumpet Kings
. . .The first great jazz trumpeter to emerge from Soviet Union is an exciting hard bop player with a wide range and a powerful sound, Valery Ponomarev (who is currently playing at the peak of his powers) has led Universal Language and recorded regularly for Reservoir. But it is surprising that he is not getting greater exposure and winning jazz polls, for there are few hard bop stylists on his level today.