Herb Pomeroy

B: 15 April 1930, Gloucester, Massachusetts

D: 11 August 2007

By Prof. Richard Falco:


Few musicians can claim to have had the impact Herb Pomeroy has had on countless young artists. Through his years of teaching at Berklee College of Music (1955-1995), MIT (where he led the Festival Jazz Ensemble from 1963-1985) , and New England Conservatory (2002-2007), he has guided and nurtured at least two generations of jazz musicians. A magnet for international students, this legendary teacher attracted students from all over the globe. As one who thoroughly embraced Duke Ellington's mantra of always celebrating the uniqueness of every individual, Herb created a special relationship with many of his students and colleagues. Most describe him as a mentor as much as a teacher.

Herb was formally recognized for his contributions to jazz education with several awards, including an Honorary Doctorate from Berklee College of Music in 1995, induction into the International Association of Jazz Educators Hall of Fame in 1996 and the Down Beat Jazz Education Hall of Fame in 1997.

The 1950's was a time Herb Pomeroy focused on performance and recordings. From 1951-1954 he recorded or performed with Charlie Mariano, Jaki Byard, Dick Twardzik, Serge Chaloff , Ray Santisi and Charlie Parker. In 1954, he toured with the Stan Kenton Orchestra before settling into fulltime teaching at Berklee in 1955 where he directed ensembles and created three unique and extremely popular courses: Line Writing, Jazz Composition, and Arranging in the Style of Duke Ellington (the first such Ellington course offered in the United States).

He created the Herb Pomeroy Big Band in 1955 which included many of the best known jazz artists living in the New England area. The band performed at the popular Stable in Boston for more than two years and produced three albums early on. The Herb Pomeroy Big Band continued for more than 30 years.

His best known recording may be the 1957- Life is a Many Splendored Gig on the Roulette label. The recoding personnel included: Lennie Johnson, Augie Ferretti, Everett Longstreth and Joe Gordon (trumpets); Joe Ciavardone, Bill Legan and Gene DiStasio (trombones); Dave Chapman and Boots Mussulli (alto saxes); Varty Haroutunian and Jaki Byard (tenor saxes) and Deane Haskins (baritone sax), Ray Santisi (piano), John Neves (bass) and Jimmy Zitano (drums) and guest tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims.

Herb's humble, yet bigger than life personality and astounding musicianship served as a model for aspiring jazz educators and jazz musicians internationally. The world is a better place because of Herb Pomeroy.

The Herb Pomeroy collection within our Jazz History Database Collection includes some very unique, never before seen material:


Three Video Interviews:

  1. Glouchester Lyceum
  2. Interview with Peter Anastas and Bob Quinn
  3. Interview with Toni Ballard following Herb's retirement.

Three Performance Videos:

  1. Dick Johnson and Herb Pomeroy Quintet live at the Jazz At Sunset Festival ( "Studio 3" produced by Toni Ballard with WGMC TV)
  2. A live 1995 performance with the Rick Stepton Sextet at the Jazz at Sunset Festival (produced by Toni Ballard)
  3. Performance with Ed Sandon

Photo from the Berklee College of Music photo gallery on Herb Pomeroy.