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"Mike Ponella is a stellar lead trumpeter who has performed with numerous big bands including Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Doc Severinson, Ed Shaunessey, Slide Hampton and in recent years, the Toshiko Akiyoshi- Lew Tabackin Jazz Orchestra for whom he has played on at least (8) eight recordings and the United Nations Jazz Orchestra led by Paquito D'Rivera. A native of Queens and currently based in New York City, Ponella also includes in his varied resume performances with Freddie Hubbard, Lew Tabackin Randy Brecker, Billy Taylor, Randy Brecker, Jimmy Heath, Clark Terry, Gerry Mulligan and with vocalists Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis and Bobby Vinton.
This 2009 release represents Ponella's lifetime goal to record his own compositions and arrangements, while paying tribute to many bandleaders and other musical associates. It is a large scale and well performed project, involving the efforts of a core seven piece group (four horns plus rhythm section), six guest soloists, and eighteen others who will fill out a big band for certain selections, for a total of thirty-one musicians recorded at three different studios. Nonetheless there is a certain unity of spirit, an extroverted and fun loving nature, to Ponella's music from the Latin sounds of "Ciao Sonny" and "J.C." and the vigorously swinging "Craftsmeister" to the playful "G.W.B. Shuffle" and the rocking "King of Cancun." On the more pensive side, Ponella's "East View" a gorgeous waltz and fine arrangement, is the gem of the recording with excellent solos from Herwig on trombone and Templeton on piano. Also turning in excellent short solos throughout the program were the eminent guest performers."
- Don Lerman (Cadence Jazz Magazine - Jan-March 2011)
June 2010 - Los Angeles Jazz Scene Review of GWB Shuffle: Mike Ponella, G.W.B.Shuffle(M.A.P.) If a musician can be judged by the company he keeps, Mike Ponella is obviously a very talented artist. On G.W.B. Shuffle, he leads a septet that has both Scott Whitfield and Conrad Herwig on trombones. Among his many guests are altoist Gerry Niewood(for one of his final sessions), trombonist Slide Hampton, Paquito D'Rivera(playing both alto and clarinet on "But Not for Me"), guitarist Barry Finnerty, Howard Johnson on tuba and, on "The Goober," both pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi and Lew Tabackin on tenor. But even without the extra stars, this would be a strong set. Ponella contributed seven of the ten selections and all of the arrangements, takes consistently excellent trumpet solos, and sounds fine having the vocal on "Ciao Sonny'(for the late Sonny Costanzo). The music is often fiery and hard-swinging but also has some Afro-Cuban jazz, bossa nova, samba rhythms and funk. There is not a slow moment to be heard on this consistently rewarding set, available form www.mikeponella.com. Scott Yanow
Reviews of GWB Shuffle at Amazon.com
Mike Ponella GuestTrumpeter
Mike Ponella GuestTrumpeter, with Tomoko Tani-Diplomatic Manager of the Swingin' Wonderland Jazz Orchestra