The passing of Herb Pomeroy on August 11 leaves jazz education in New England without one of its most skilled teachers and the music absent an improviser and bandleader of rare originality. Pomeroy was a trumpeter who grew into a major arranger, leader and inspiration to hundreds of students at the Berklee School of Music and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Vibraphonist Gary Burton, a former Berklee student of Pomeroy who later became dean of the school, told the Boston Globe:
He was one of the most skillful and clever of improvisers. A lot of improvisers, when they soloed, played familiar jazz licks, as we say. Herb was one of the players where you could really see his mind at work. When he played solos, you could see him telling stories, developing themes, creating serious content.
To read all of the Globe article, go here.
There is regrettably little of Pomeroy’s playing and little of his superb big band on CD. For his trumpet work of the early 1950s, I recommend Boston Days by saxophonist Charlie Mariano, one of Pomeroy’s closest Boston colleagues. Pomeroy’s splendid big band, with sidemen including pianist Jaki Byard, trumpeter Joe Gordon and alto saxophonist Boots Mussulli, is heard on the 1957 album Life is a Many Splendored Gig. A year later, Pomeroy backed Irene Kral in The Band and I, a collaboration of singer and big band that quickly became a classic and was recently reissued on CD.
Herb Pomeroy, dead at seventy-seven.