Herb Pomeroy

4/15/30 - 8/11/07

Herb Pomeroy was born in Gloucester, MA. He was among the early students at the Schillinger House, which evolved into Berklee College of Music, where Herb would teach for forty years, starting in 1955. He played on several occasions with Charlie Parker, when Bird came to Boston, as documented on some of the “air-check” recordings of Parker. He also played in the bands of Lionel Hampton and Stan Kenton, and he led his own highly respected big band, on and off, for much of his life. The band made five recordings, over several years (see list below), one of them made during their long stand at the El Morocco, in Worcester, MA. Pomeroy also composed commissioned works for the Boston Ballet Co. and the National Jazz Ensemble.

*Here is a partial resume of Herb’s other accomplishments:

Taught at Lenox School of Jazz, 1959 - 60.

Director of Radio Malaya Orchestra, 1962.

Member of Orchestra USA, 1962 - 63.

Founder and Director of MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble 1963 - 1985 (There is a whole fascinating story here)

Host of Jazz With Herb Pomeroy, half-hour weekly TV program, 1965 -67.

Jazz Ensemble Coach, New England Conservatory, fall 2002 through the 2006/2007 school year.

*Here is a discography of the Herb Pomery Band (courtesy of Jon Foley). Herb can be heard on several other recordings, which we hope to add to this list, soon.

Love Is A Many Splendored Gig - Roulette Records LP (Fresh Sound CD)

Band In Boston - UA Records LP

The Band And I - UA Records LP (Capitol Jazz CD) - with Irene Kral

Pramlatta's Hips - Shiah Records LP

Live At Sandy's - Red Rose SACD

This little profile has been assembled from my memory and various editions of The Encyclopedia of Jazz. I got to know Herb personally in the 1990s, through my involvement with the Seacoast Jazz Society, and had heard him on several occasions before that. I watched him teach at Seacoast Jazz Society workshops, where he exhibited a skillful blend of stern honesty and gentle encouragement. He was going to weigh in on Tadd Dameron for my book, but unfortunately we were never able to have that conversation.

On 8/14/2007, the Boston Globe noted that "contributions may be made in Herb's memory to any of the following organizations: Berklee College of Music's Herb Pomeroy Scholarship Fund, 1140 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02215; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, c/o The Herb Pomeroy Jazz Development Fund, 14N-207, 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139; Gloucester Scholarship Foundation in memory of Herb Pomeroy, c/o Cape Ann Savings Bank, 109 Main St., Gloucester, MA 01930 or to the Intertown Baseball League, c/o Terry Poste, 2 White Road, South Hamilton, MA 01982."

Please send any additions, corrections or memories to



Paul Combs

(To return to NEJAZZ.ORG, click the "back" button in you browser.)


Comments and recollections regarding Herb Pomeroy:

"He was like a father to many of us, and an icon for so many decades.
I have that giant empty feeling inside, like a big part of my own life
has just gone into darkness.
All those gigs and all those rehearsals, and now,
all those memories -- really good ones."

"The 2nd Trumpeter
Greg Hopkins"

"Herb was an amazing musician, teacher, and person. He could make you play better just by being in the room, listening.
-Mark Shilansky"

"I played with Herb several times and learned so many valuable lessons ...some I think about on every gig...
Let's celebrate his life in music this fall and on every gig.
-Lisa Thorson"

"Here's an excerpt from an article I wrote on Duke Ellington for the Boston Globe Magazine in 1999 containing a couple of anecdotes from the late Herb Pomeroy ...

The trumpeter and educator Herb Pomeroy, who spent several years on the road with Lionel Hampton and Stan Kenton before embarking on a 40-year-long teaching career at the Berklee College of Music, experienced Ellington from two perspectives. In the late '50's, Pomeroy established a seminar on Ellington at Berklee, the only course of its kind in the country at the time. Duke's unconventional composing and arranging styles, described by Pomeroy as 'trial and error, seat-of-the-pants,' baffled other musicians for years, perhaps even Ellington himself, who was notoriously tongue-in-cheek. 'On one of the early occasions when we met,' he recalls, 'Duke said, "Herb, I understand you're teaching a course on me up there in Boston. Maybe I should come up and take it in order to find out what I'm doing."

Pomeroy also played with the Ellington orchestra on numerous occasions, spelling the veteran trumpeter Cootie Williams. His first time with the band was unforgettable. 'We were playing the Starlight Lounge in Peabody, and I'm playing Cootie's book. You know, even with Duke it wasn't all concert halls and festivals. He had to have a book for country club dances and proms, and as I was looking through Cootie's book I noticed some music by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, "Tijuana Taxi," as I recall. I thought, "My God, the great Cootie Williams has to play this stuff." I'm expecting a night of "Cottontail" and "Harlem Air Shaft." Well, after awhile, Duke introduced me as a new member of the band, saying "Ladies and Gentleman, Herb Pomeroy wants you to know that he loves you madly, and he would like to play 'Tijuana Taxi' for you." Well, I was so taken aback that I got out my plunger and played something-- whatever it was, it wasn't very sincere. But I got through it. And then Duke thanked the audience for their kind applause and reminded them that "Herb Pomeroy still loves you madly, and now he would like to play 'Tijuana Taxi' for you once more" You know, it was Duke's way of saying, "Welcome to the band, Herb!"'

Pomeroy survived this innocuous hazing ritual and remained wide-eyed in his appreciation of Ellington. 'I was like a kid in a candy store every time I played on that band,' he says. 'I was checking out everything. The band itself was like a vibrant human animal.'

-Tom Reney"

"Jazz trumpeter Herb Pomeroy dies after battle with cancer
By Mark Pratt, Associated Press Writer | August 14, 2007

BOSTON --Jazz trumpeter Herb Pomeroy, who played with Charlie Parker, backed up Frank Sinatra, and influenced generations of musicians in four decades as a teacher at Berklee College of Music and MIT, has died.

Pomeroy died at his Gloucester home on Saturday after a long struggle with cancer, his daughter said. He was 77.

Pomeroy played at times with Parker, Charlie Mariano, Stan Kenton, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins and others. In addition to Sinatra, he backed Tony Bennett and Sarah Vaughn.

"Herb was renowned as one of Boston's most famous musicians, not just for who he played with, but for his own bands. He was highly regarded by everyone," said Ken Pullig, the chairman of Berklee's Jazz composition department and one of Pomeroy's former students. Pomeroy was also a "magnet" that helped draw students, Pullig said.

"When (Berklee founder) Larry Berk first hired him Herb already had quite a reputation around Boston and it gave the fledgling school some credibility. For many years he was the icon that really attracted students from all around the world."

Pomeroy taught like he played jazz -- by improvising, with no notes, no syllabus, no text books, said Larry Monroe, another former student who is now Berklee's vice president for international affairs.

"He personified the educator, the performer, the activist, everything that makes music go," Monroe said. "He literally influenced thousands and thousands of musicians."

Above all else, however, Pomeroy was a family man, said his daughter, Perry Pomeroy. He fashioned his career so he could always put family first. "His most outstanding characteristic was his unwavering dependability," she said. "He was a constant force, and as a parent, he was very reliable, and for me as a child that was an invaluable feeling to have about a parent."

Pomeroy was also an unwavering fan of amateur sports, particularly the Gloucester High School football team, and the local Inter-Town Baseball League. "He planned his schedule around sports and was a fixture in the stands for decades," Perry Pomeroy said.

Irving Herbert Pomeroy III was born and raised in Gloucester and began playing music as a teenager. He spent a year at Harvard before leaving to become a full-time musician. In addition to his daughter, Pomeroy leaves his wife, Dodie Gibbons; a son, Eden Pomeroy; four stepchildren; 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

A memorial service is scheduled for Sept. 9 at Emmanuel Church in Boston.

(c) 2007, Associated Press

Here is a link to the New England Jazz History Database, and some video clips of Herb (along with a lot of other interesting clips) shot for the TV show "Studio 3," a half-hour music and interview program which featured the best jazz groups in New England.

Herb Pomeroy on "Studio 3"

"Back in 1993 Herb was awarded a Jazz Achievement Award by The New England Foundation for The Arts. I got to produce a radio documentary to celebrate that award. That documentary, "Herb Pomeroy: A Jazz Portrait" is now available on the WGBH website. Simply go to:


There you will find the 'Jazz Portraits' link. Herb is at the top of the list."

Steve Schwartz
Jazz from Studio Four
Friday, 8p-midnight
WGBH, 89.7fm, Boston