The first major Russian jazz musician to make an impression in the United States, Valery Ponomarev
has always had an attractive tone, a swinging style, and a strong interest in keeping the hard bop legacy of Clifford Brown
alive. He played as regularly as possible in the Soviet Union, recording for the Melodiya label and appearing at jazz festivals until defecting in 1973.
Four years later, he joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers
, a perfect outlet for his style, from 1977-1980; he recorded nine albums with Blakey
for such labels as Roulette, Timeless, and Concord. Ponomarev
has since freelanced, usually leading his own quintets and recording extensively for Reservoir.