A random collection of experienced musicians and composers, Ponga fuses together classic and avant-garde jazz with traditional jungle beats to form a sound a little left of center. Their 1999 self-titled release showcases this fusion and was followed by an album of remixes by such artists as Fila Brazillia, Capsule 150, and Amon Tobin.
A keyboardist and composer, Wayne Horvitz's sound is parallel with the eclectic, artistic, and experimental music lab of N.Y.C.'s Knitting Factory, where he did much of his earlier performances. Horvitz has played with a wide range of musicians and lead the President and New York Composer's Orchestra. Ponga-mate Bobby Previte played in a trio with Horvitz, has lead several projects, composed for the Moscow Circus, and in 1991, was recognized in Rolling Stone Magazine's Hot Jazz Artist list. Leaving New York and Previte behind, Horvitz moved to Seattle to spend time with a new combo called Zony Mash. During a regular visit to his old trio-mate, Horvitz introduced Previte to Sherik, a saxophone player and a key musician in the Seattle jazz community. Sherik had played with groups such as Critters Buggin, Tuartara, and Motel 6. With Sherik on sax and sampler, Previte on drums, Horvitz on keys, the trio played jam sessions at local clubs. After several performances, Sherik invited friend Dave Palmer to sit in on a couple performances. Palmer, up to that point, had been the pianist for such projects as MC 900 Ft. Jesus, Fiona Apple, and Chris Isaak. Palmer eventually became the fourth in a group of two 40-something New York jazzheads and two 30-something West Coast funk addicts.
Originally Ponga called themselves Swammie Late Plate and then Vog, finally resting on a word whose literal meaning is a type of fern that originates in New Zealand. In 1999 they released their self-titled debut CD, which was a collection of improvised tracks that had been edited and cleaned for release. The CD was hosted by the well-recognized Ninja Tune label, which also hosts the likes of DJ Food, Kid Koala, and Funki Porcini. "Ponga" followed the release with a CD and featured a 12" of reworks by veterans Fila Brazillia, Spacetime Continuum, and labelmate Amon Tobin -- to name a few. ~ Diana Potts