Herb Pomeroy interview

Interviewee biography: 

Herb Pomeroy (1930-2007) attended Berklee (then Schillinger House) from 1948-1952 and served on the faculty from 1955-1995, receiving an honorary doctorate from the College upon his retirement. A renowned trumpet player, he toured with Stan Kenton, Lionel Hampton, and Serge Chaloff, among others, and recorded with legends such as Charlie Parker and Charlie Mariano. A gifted educator and mentor, Pomeroy’s teaching emphasized the works of Duke Ellington, and his career included stints at Brandeis, Harvard, and MIT, where he revitalized their big band program. Pomeroy was inducted to the International Jazz Educators (IAJE) Hall of Fame (1996) and the DownBeat Jazz Education Hall of Fame (1997), and was the 2004 Boston Musicians’ Association Musician of the Year.


HP: Ok. Those are easy to remember. Long term memory serves us well as we get older and short term gets a little troublesome. High school was in Gloucester when in my first and middle teens I was fortunate because I got to work a lot with professional adult level players because ww2 taking a lot of pro musicians in 20s and 30s into the service so the older pro musicians and the real young the high school age got to work them so I began gigging around 44 , 45. I didn’t really become involved in the boston scene until the one year I went to Harvard in the 49 50 school year and that’s when I really took an interest in the jazz scene in the boston area. Part of why I stayed in Harvard only one year I got really involved in the music scene and made the decision to become a jazz musician rather than the dentist that my family had in mind for me when I was going to Harvard. That gets us up to about 1950 and at the end of that school year 49-50 when I was a freshman at Harvard, I made the decision to leave there and come to as a student to then Schillinger House school of music which is now berklee and did so. IN the fall of 50 I came here as a full time student. I had been taking lessons privately in the summer of 48 I would come in one day a week and take a piano or trumpet and arranging lesson with Harry Smith who’s the piano teacher and he was at that point he was a partner of Larry Berk’s in the school and Fred Bearman was my trumpet teacher, his claim to fame was he played lead trumpet with the Paul Whiteman band and a gentleman named Rick coleman who I studied arranging with. That was my first contact with Berklee and fall of 50 coming here full time and getting totally immersed in being a music student here and striving to become a professional jazz player on the boston scene.

FB: Is that when you had your first contact with Joe Viola in the classroom?

HP: It was I had joe as an ensemble instructor. I was here for 5 semesters, 5 consecutive semesters including summer. I had Joe probably at least 1 ensemble each of those semesters. I developed great respect for his musicianship, his way with people, his ????, all of the little things he would say to us as student players, I was making a mental scrapbook up here he had so many, he would always say in a very laid back relaxed way and was not a high powered manner rehearsing that Joe had. I learned a great deal about what you would deposit of things you would do when rehearsing a band. I learned a great deal from him. Some of the teachers, at the time Bob Share the fellow who was the ??? here until he passed away in the ‘80s . He had started teaching here, he may have been one of Larry Berk’s first private students and then Larry brought him onto the faculty of the school. And then the dean then in the fall of 50 was a fellow by the name of Richard Bobert we called him Dick Bobert very fine teacher. Bob and Dick in the classroom situation was the two strongest teachers I had when I was a student here and I got a lot from both of them in terms of arranging and writing for band.
Back to Top