Maya has met wide success throughout New England and has appeared with many outstanding musicians-Benny Carter, Clark Terry, Dave McKenna, Gray Sargent, Bill Jiacovelli, and Tony Purrone, among others. In her singing, Maya projects a great deal of passion and dramatic intensity through the medium of a simply lovely, haunting voice. She is fully equipped to hold her own with the formidable horns in this group, and yet her singing remains highly feminine and delicate, touching and moving. (The resultant symbiosis is the basis of this album's original title, "The Yin and the Yang.") At the intermission, Valery, this session being his first encounter with Maya, kept exclaiming, "The purity of that voice!" in his engaging accent. Maya is, quite simply, a marvelous singer who has to be heard.
As a jazz figure of world renown (for four years he was a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, put out nine records with that legendary group, and has most recently produced two very well-received albums under his own name, "Means of I. D." and "Trip to Moscow"), Valery Ponomarev can only be viewed as one of the very best jazz trumpet artists on the scene Uncompromising in his jazz standards, he plays with both lyrical beauty and a compelling power and presence and technique. Possessed of a gorgeous tone and style, those who know can readily guess from his playing why he might have named his son Clifford. ·
One has here a live session that came off beautifully, with a freshness and immediacy that are tellingly documented in this record. The musicians were obviously excited and inspired beyond the call of duty, and one of the reasons would have to be that they were performing in one of Manhattan's hallowed temples of jazz and jazz education, Barry Harris's Jazz Cultural Theater. Furthermore, the dean himself of this most respected and influential institution was present throughout the entire three-hour session. During the scat-singing phase, the dignified and reserved Mr. Harris, standing at the back of the hall, began to externalize a bit in the form of some dancing and singing of his own. I can't think of a better endorsement of this record.
* As one of the many wonderful events that took place there, this album is dedicated to the memory of The Jazz Cultural Theater, 1982-87.