Berklee Oral History : Video Archives
Born on April 15, 1930, in Gloucester, Massachusetts, Pomeroy took up the trumpet after seeing a movie starring Louis Armstrong. He began playing professionally by high school, enrolled in 1948 at Schillinger House (later renamed Berklee), and went on the road in the early 1950s with bands led by Lionel Hampton, Stan Kenton, and Serge Chaloff.
He joined the Berklee faculty as a full-time teacher in 1955 and developed several courses that eventually cemented his reputation as one of jazz's greatest teachers. Pomeroy's appreciation for and endless study of Duke Ellington's music informed much of his classroom work and helped spawn scores of talented musicians, including producer Arif Mardin, The Simpsons composer Alf Clausen, composer-arrangers Alan Broadbent and Rob Mounsey, vibraphonist Gary Burton, keyboardist Joe Zawinul, bassist Abe Laboriel Sr., film composers Mike Gibbs and Alan Silvestri, and many others.
His former students paid tribute to him in a Berklee Performance Center concert in April 1995, weeks before Pomeroy received a Berklee honorary doctorate of music, along with James Taylor and Natalie Cole. After that commencement ceremony, he retired from full-time teaching to focus on performing. But before long, he was back at Berklee, teaching master classes and ensembles, and influencing another generation of up-and-coming musicians.
"Even though they seem to have nothing to do with the practical music world of Berklee, students register for my electives on the chamber music of Bartok and the string quartets of Beethoven for a variety of reasons. When I ask them why, one response I get is: 'Well, John, the word gets around,' which is okay with me. In my classes, I make the students do the work themselves, which reflects my basic philosophy.
"I refuse to stand at a blackboard writing down everything that students have to know while they fall asleep. Teaching, for me, is getting students involved in working on projects through which they learn the solution to a particular musical problem. I think of myself as the 'dummy' in a bridge game who knows everything that's going on but shouldn't talk. In my case, I do talk to make sure that everyone understands everything that's going on in the musical sense.
B.M., New England Conservatory of Music
Compositions published by Oxford University Press, Renfrew Press, BJK Publications, Neil Kjos, and Ensemble Publications
Compositions recorded by CRI, Coronet, A.S.O.L., M.I.T., and Media Records
Recipient of numerous ASCAP Awards for Composition
Recipient of National Institute of Arts and Letters Award in recognition of creative work in music
Haynes has been "hard swinging" since 1944, when he made his professional debut at the age of seventeen in his native Boston.
Haynes extracted the rhythmic qualities from melodies and created unique new drum and cymbal patterns in an idiosyncratic, now instantly recognizable style. Rather than using cymbals strictly for effect, Haynes brought them to the forefront of his unique rhythmic approach. He also established a distinctively crisp and rapid-fire sound on the snare; this was the inspiration for his nickname, 'Snap Crackle'.
Haynes began his full time professional career in 1945. From 1947 to 1949 he worked with saxophonist Lester Young, and from 1949 to 1952 was a member of saxophonist Charlie Parker's quintet. He also recorded at the time with pianist Bud Powell and saxophonists Wardell Gray, and Stan Getz. From 1953 to 1958 he toured with singer Sarah Vaughan. Haynes went on to work with more experimental musicians, like saxophonists John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy, and pianists Chick Corea and Andrew Hill.
Haynes has recorded or performed with Gary Burton, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Henry Grimes, Christian McBride, Jackie McLean, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Gerry Mulligan, Art Pepper, Sonny Rollins, Horace Tapscott and many others. He has also led his own groups, some performing under the name Hip Ensemble. His most recent recordings as a leader are Fountain of Youth and Whereas, both of which have been nominated for a Grammy Award. He continues to perform worldwide.