I discography 1 2 3 4
February 8, 1926 in New Orleans/Louisiana, Pony Poindexter learned
to play several reed instruments while still a youngster. As with
many saxophonists, clarinet was his first instrument before switching
to tenor and alto, the instrument upon which he was later recognized
as a strong and distinctive performer. One of the first bop-oriented
jazz musicians to start doubling on soprano in the 1960ies, Pony Poindexter
should have been much better known during his lifetime. Very early
on he gained experience working in his home town with SIDNEY DESVIGNE
(1940) and then in several bands including that led by LIONEL HAMPTON
(during 1951-52. Pony attended the Candell Conservatory of Music in
Oakland and established a reputation for ably accompanying singers,
including BILLY ECKSTINE (in 1947; he touring with Eckstine´s
Big Band a few times during 1948-50) and JON HENDRICKS. The very first
recording session which he joined, was the one of guitarist/singer
TEDDY BUNN in 1949 in Los Angeles.
Pony was based in the San Francisco Bay area during much of his life.
He worked steadily as both a sideman and a leader in local clubs
throughout the 1950ies. He performed and/or recorded with the MONTGOMERY BROTHERS, JON HENDRICKS, BEV KELLY and SAUNDERS KING, and led recording dates for Epic, New Jazz and Prestige. In 1962 he recorded ‘Pony's
Express’ (Epic) with DEXTER GORDON, ERIC DOLPHY, JIMMY HEATH,
PEPPER ADAMS, SONNY RED KYNER and ELVIN JONES, and ‘Limbo Rock’
(Prestige). In 1963 he recorded ‘Pony Poindexter Plays The
Big Ones’ (New Jazz), accompanied by the GILDO MAHONES TRIO:
GILDO MAHONES, GEORGE TUCKER and JIMMIE SMITH and ‘Gumbo’
(Prestige), joined by BOOKER ERVIN, AL GREY, LARRY YOUNG, JERRY THOMAS,
and again the Gildo Mahones Trio.
During 1961-63, Poindexter has become a member of DAVE LAMBERT, JOHN
HENDRICKS and YOLANDE BAVAN´s vocal group backup band. In 1963 he moved to Europe, performing with ANNIE ROSS and guitarist
RENE THOMAS, appearing on his album ‘Blue Note, Paris 1964’
(Jeal Records). In 1966 he appeared at the ‘Tenth German Jazz Festival Frankfurt’,
with ANNIE ROSS, CARMELL JONES, LEO WRIGHT, ANDRÉ CONDOUANT,
FRITZ PAUER, JIMMY WOODE and JOE NAY. In 1965/67 Pony performed at
the Jamboree Jazz Club in Barcelona and appeared with LEE KONITZ's
'Alto Summit' in 1968, initiated by German Jazz critic Joachim E.
Berendt, with altoists PHIL WOODS and LEO WRIGHT. In September 1969
Pony led the recording for ‘The Happy Life Of Pony Poindexter’
(Session) live at the Domicile in Munich, with JAN HAMMER, JIRI MRAZ
and MICHAEL DENNERT. ‘Pony Poindexter En Barcelona’ (Wah-Wah)
was recorded in 1972, with JOSE MARIA FARRAS, RICARDO SOLIS, DINA
POINDEXTER, ERIC PETER, ADRIÀ FONT and PEDRITO. In 1973 he
played club dates in San Francisco with artists like ARTIE LANGSTON.
Poindexter spent 17 years in Europe, playing in many countries (in
Paris; and Mannheim/Germany in 1977), mostly in Spain (for eight years),
he returned to the United States in 1981, "and only because I had
a stroke”, resettling near San Francisco, and began working
as a singer. His saxophone playing career having been halted through
illness. Throughout his performances, Pony displayed a wide appreciation
of various aspects of the jazz form, in particular bop. His last album
‘Pony Poindexter', with NEAL KIRKWOOD, ART WASHINGTON, RICHIE
GOLDBERG, was recorded in 1978 for Inner City. However he slipped
away into obscurity and never gained the recognition he deserved.
Pony passed away April 14, 1988 in Oakland / California.
Poindexter was a fantastic reed player from New Orleans who made his name
in the San Francisco scene of the 50's and 60's. He said: ...I started playing
in North Beach in the 50's. Leo Wright had the job first, he was working
at the Jazz Cellar, or just the Cellar we called it. Dizzy Gillespie came
to town and decided he would take Leo so when Leo left I got the job at
the Cellar ...".
(For more see North Beach Jazz Festival - History).
In 1950 Pony performed at the legendary “Jimbo's Bop City”,
an after hours club, opened on Buchanan and Post. This chicken shack
hangout blossomed into one of the greatest jazz joints of all time,
stewarded by the "Bill Graham" of Frisco Jazz, Jimbo Edwards. Pony
played there with tenor sax giant DEXTER GORDON and FRANK J. JACKSON
(legendary jazz pianist & vocalist, who worked there as the house
pianist). Artists such as Art Tatum, Dizzy Gillespie, and Gerry Mulligan
performed there, as well as John Handy, John Coltrane and Frank Fisher.
He played at the Fillmore District club “Jack's” and performed
weekly at “New Jack's”, the last of the great Fillmore
district jazz clubs. In the late 50ies the collaboration between painters
and poets, poets and musicians, filmmakers and poets, was cranking
up the creative heat.
Pony worked at San Francisco’s Beat hangout “The Jazz
(a funny, intelligent, mystical, often elliptical jazz-based poet
who can do a mean Yiddish accent), who read his poetry there (working
with Leo Wright also). Harry Partch, the composer who built his own
instruments with names like "Cloud Chamber Bowls" and "Surrogate Kithara,"
had a houseboat in Sausalito that was a gathering place for students
of composition. There was a series of new-music concerts called Vortex
at the Planetarium, the Cellar hosted an exhibit of Joan Brown's paintings,
accompanied by the jazz of Brew Moore and Pony Poindexter, and students
from the School of Fine Arts were congregating at The Place for "Dada
One of the first bop-oriented jazz musicians to start doubling on soprano,
Pony Poindexter should have been much better known during his lifetime.
As with many saxophonists, clarinet was his first instrument before switching
to alto and tenor. Poindexter worked very early on with SIDNEY DESVIGNE
in New Orleans (1940) and later attended the Candell Conservatory of Music
He was with the 1947 BILLY ECKSTINE Big Band, touring a few times during 1948-50.
In 1949 Pony joined guitarist/singer TEDDY BUNN at a recording session
for Selective Records in Los Angeles, with JEROME PARSON (p), CURTIS COUNCE
(b) and BRYAN ALLEN (dr).
was based in the San Francisco Bay area during much of his life, traveling
a bit while with LIONEL HAMPTON during 1951-52. He worked steadily
as both a sideman and a leader in local clubs throughout the 1950s.
Neal Hefti, who was aware of Poindexter's talents early on, wrote
"Little Pony" for the Count Basie Orchestra in 1951 (it was a classic
feature for Wardell Gray), and Jon Hendricks would later in the decade
contribute lyrics for the version, recorded by LAMBERT, HENDRICKS
On October 1, 1959 Pony recorded with WES MONTGOMERY (g) and his brothers
MONK (el-b) and BUDDY (p), plus LOUIS HAYES (dr), in Los Angeles,
replacing tenorist Harold Land, who played an earlier session date.
The four tracks appeared on ‘Montgomeryland’ and ‘Far
Wes’, both on Pacific Jazz, and ‘Beginnings’ (Blue
Note). On the latter album, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard´s recording
debut is also heard.
same month JON HENDRICKS´s ‘Good Git-Together’ (World
Pacific) was recorded live at Fugazi Hall in San Francisco, with Poindexter,
NAT ADDERLEY (cor), CANNONBALL ADDERLEY (as), GILDO MAHONES (p), WES
MONTGOMERY (g), IKE ISAACS (b) and WALTER BOLDEN (dr). Jon
Hendricks said about this album:“... and Norwood Poindexter
is here too, don't cha know, only we all call him by his other real
name, the one celebrated in song and story, ‘Little Pony’.
Pony plays his alto and sings so beautifully he made me 'shamed of
myself. If you don't feel the spirit movin' in your heart when Pony
shouts the spiritual, ‘Everything Started on the House of Lord’,
then you ain't got that ol' time religion, but you you'll still feel
it anyway, 'cause Pony comes from New Orleans, the cradle of all of
it, an he knows about marchin' solemnly to the funerals and swingin'
like crazy on the way back”.
a 1960 Downbeat cover: Vernon Alley, Earl Hines, Teddy Wilson, Pony Poindexter,
Vigil Gonsalves, Vince Guaraldi, Bev Kelly, Wes Montgomery, Brew Moore,
Paul Desmond, Sylvia Syms, Kid Ory and Turk Murphy on a Cable Car in San Francisco.
|In September 21, 1960 JON HENDRICKS recorded ‘Evolution Of The
Blues Song’ (Columbia) accompanied by BEN WEBSTER and Pony on
tenors, BIG MILLER, HANNAH DEAN, JIMMY WITHERSPOON (voc), ERIC GALE
and GILDO MAHONES on piano, BOBBY GIBBONS on guitar, IKE ISAACS
on bass and JIMMY WORMWORTH on drums.
On October 14, 1960 Pony teamed up with BEVERLY KELLY - ‘Bev
Kelly In Person’ (Riverside) was recorded live at the Coffee
Gallery in San Francisco. The singer has sympathetic accompaniment
in pianist FLIP NUNEZ, bassist JOHNNY ALLEN, and drummer TONY JOHNSON.
A critic said: Live recordings in San Francisco nightclubs during
1959 and '60 yielded such marvelous results for Riverside Records
as The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco, cut at the Jazz Workshop,
and Thelonious Monk Quartet
||Plus Two at the Blackhawk. The names of
singer Bev Kelly and the Coffee Gallery are hardly as illustrious,
yet Kelly's belief in the results that would follow from documenting
her sets at this obscure Bay Area room produced an album of lasting
value. Interpreting standards at a range of tempos, Kelly displays
roots in Anita O'Day's style together with a more intimate delivery.
She receives responsive support from alto saxophonist Pony Poindexter
and pianist Flip Nunez, two musicians who (like Kelly) deserved far
Pony played on JON HENDRICKS´s ‘Fast Livin' Blues’
(Columbia) in January (or September?) 1961, together with JOE NEWMAN
(tp), AL GREY (tb), BILLY MITCHELL (ts), GILDO MAHONES (p), IKE
ISAACS (b) and STU MARTIN (dr).
on soprano in the 1960ies, Poindexter led recording dates for Epic, New
Jazz and Prestige. In 1962 he recorded ‘Pony's Express’ (Epic) on which he
was joined by DEXTER GORDON, ERIC DOLPHY, JIMMY HEATH, PEPPER ADAMS, SONNY
RED KYNER and ELVIN JONES. The same year he recorded ‘Limbo Rock’ (Prestige).
On January 31, 1963 he recorded ‘Pony
Poindexter Plays The Big Ones’ (New Jazz) at VGS-Englewood Cliffs/NJ, accompanied
by the Gildo Mahones Trio: GILDO MAHONES (p), GEORGE TUCKER (b) and JIMMIE
During 1961-63, Poindexter has become a member of DAVE LAMBERT, JOHN HENDRICKS and YOLANDE BAVAN´s
vocal group back- up band. ‘Live At Basin Street East’
(RCA), the first of 3 albums by the vocal trio (Yolande Bavan had
just recently become Annie Ross' replacement) was recorded live at
Basin Street East in San Francisco,
||during a three-day
period in 1963, accompanied by the GILDO MAHONES TRIO.
Pony´s recording ‘Gumbo’ (Prestige) was made in
June of the same year, joined by BOOKER ERVIN on tenor, AL GREY on
trumbone, GILDO MAHONES, LARRY YOUNG on organ, GEORGE TUCKER, JIMMIE
SMITH and JERRY THOMAS on drums.
Pony moved to Europe in 1963, performing with ANNIE ROSS and guitarist
RENE THOMAS. He also appeared on Thomas´ album ‘Blue Note,
Paris 1964’ (Jeal Records), recorded live at the Blue Note in
Paris on October 5 and 10, 1964, with tenorist MICHEL ROQUES, pianist
GEORGE ARVANITAS, MICHEL GAUDRY / GEORGES LUCAS on bass, and JEAN-LOUIS
VIALE / MICHEL DELAPORTE on drums. It seems that this CD wasn't sold
in every country as it's probably not official. For example, in France,
it was removed from the record dealers, just a few weeks after release,
so it's hard to find now.
East-German Music Magazine from 1966 with a photo of Pony Poindexter on the back
1966 Pony appeared with ANNIE ROSS, at the ‘Tenth German Jazz
Festival Frankfurt’. The recording from May 1 with the Berlin
All Stars, featuring CARMELL JONES (tp), LEO WRIGHT (as, fl),
ANDRÉ CONDOUANT (g), FRITZ PAUER (p), JIMMY WOODE (b) and JOE
NAY (dr), was released by Saba and re-issued on CD in 2003 by MPS
Rec- ords (Universal) (Most Perfect Sound Edition Series). Two tracks
of this album also appeared on the compilation ‘Carmell Jones
in Europe 1965-66’, issued in 1969 by Prestige.
In 1965 and 1967 he performed at the Jamboree Jazz Club in Barcelona,
with singer LOTI LEWIS, resident singer at the club, and with the
young Norwegian guitarist and singer MAGNI WENTZEL, then at the start
of her career.
On June 2/3, 1968 Pony appeared at LEE KONITZ's Alto Summit, brainchild
of, and produced by German Jazz critic Joachim E. Berendt,
shoulders with altoists PHIL WOODS and LEO WRIGHT at the recording-sessions
for Saba/MPS in Villingen/Black Forest (West Germany), together with
pianist STEVE KUHN, bassist PALLE DANIELSSON and drummer JON CHRISTENSEN.
The album was also issued by Verve and Prestige.
The same year he joined a September
Blues Jam in Berlin, together with DON ELLIS, MAYNARD FERGUSON
(tp), ALBERT MANGELSDORFF (tb), TONY SCOTT (cl), PHARAOH SANDERS (ts),
FRITZ PAUER (p), HANS RETTENBACHER (b) and BILLY BROOKS (dr).
In September 1969 Pony led the recording for ‘The Happy Life
Of Pony Poindexter’ (Session label) live at the Domicile in
Munich, with JAN HAMMER on piano and organ, JIRI MRAZ on bass and
MICHAEL DENNERT on drums.
1970 Pony played a role in the film 'Groupie'
(also known as 'Higher And Higher', directed by Erwin C. Dietrich and
Jack Hill), which was shot in Berlin. The film is based on Jenny Fabian´s
novel 'Groupie', who described her own experiences in the entourage
of a Beat-band. It points out the life on and behind the stage of a
developing music world and shows free love and other at that time inconceivable
things. For details see >> disco 4.
‘Pony Poindexter En Barcelona’ (re-issued by Wah-Wah) was
recorded in 1972, together with JOSE MARIA FARRAS (tp), RICARDO SOLIS
(tb), DINA POINDEXTER (voc), ERIC PETER (b), ADRIÀ FONT (dr)
and PEDRITO (perc).
In 1973 Poindexter spent time in San Francisco, playing club dates with
artists like ARTIE LANGSTON (b).
living in Paris, Spain (for eight years) and Mannheim/Germany (in 1977),
Pony Poindexter moved back to the United States, resettling near San
Francisco and recording a set with NEAL KIRKWOOD (p), ART WASHINGTON
(b) and RICHIE GOLDBERG (dr) for the Inner City label in March 1978
at Down-Home Productions in San Luis Obispo.
Poindexter spent 17 years in Europe, playing in many countries (in Paris;
and Mannheim/Germany in 1977), but mostly in Spain (for 8 years), before
he came back to the US in 1978 - "and only because I had a stroke".
However he slipped away into obscurity and never gained the recognition
he deserved. Pony passed away April 14, 1988 in Oakland/California.
Grau, Joe Nay, Tete Montoliu and Pony Poindexter at the
Jazz Cava in Spain in November 1971.
taken from his autobiography
and county of San Francisco
Award of Merit to Pony Poindexter
Bay Area Resident & Internationally Acclaimed Saxophonist
In recognition of outstanding public service
on behalf of the people of San Francisco
by the honorable Willie L. Brown Jr., speaker of the assembly
Relative to commending Norwood "Pony" Poindexter
WHEREAS, The Bay Area Jazz Loft has dedicated it´s third
annual festival to Norwood "Pony" Poindexter, who is deserving of
special recognition and the highest commendations for his many contributions;
WHEREAS, a long-time member of the Bay Area Jazz community,
Norwood "Pony" Poindexter, an alto saxophone player and vocalist,
has often been called the "father of San Francisco Bebop"; and
WHEREAS, an exceptional musician and human being, Pony´s
presence has been an inspiration to a generation of Bay Area Jazz
musicians and fans, and in tribute to this special member of the Bay
Area Jazz community, the Bay Area´s very finest jazz musicians
gathered to perform in a benefit concert for one of their own; and
WHEREAS, born in New Orleans 55 years ago, Pony has been in
San Francisco since the age of ??, and his musical growth was originally
influenced by Jimmy Dorsey, but after hearing Charlie Parker, Pony
has been strictly a Bebopper; and
a stellar figure in the San Francisco Jazz scene of the 19??´s,
Pony appeared regularly at such clubs as the Jazz Workshop, the Jazz
Cellar, the Blackhawk, Bop City and Jack´s Tavern, and played
and recorded with Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, Eric Dolphy, Pepper
Adams, Dexter Gordon, Phil Woods and Billie Eckstein, among others;
WHEREAS, after spending several years in New York, Pony left
for Europe in the 1960´s, where he developed a dedicated following
and appeared throughout the continent in clubs and festivals, including
the 19?? Montreux Festival in Switzerland, and upon his return to
San Francisco in 1978, Pony continued to tour in Europe; now, therefore,
RESOLVED BY SPEAKER OF THE ASSEMBLY WILLIE L. BROWN JR., that
he congratulates Norwood "Pony" Poindexter upon the dedication of
the Bay Area Jazz Loft third annual festival in his honour, commends
him for the many musical contributions he has made to Jazz, his fellow
musicians, and fans around the world, and extends best wishes for
every success in his future endeavors; and be it further
RESOLVED, that a suitably prepared copy of this resolution be
transmitted to Norwood Poindexter.
Members resolution No. ???
Dated: April 5, 1981
Signed: Honorable Willie L. Brown Jr., speaker of the assembly
|• A •
PEPPER ADAMS, CANNONBALL ADDERLEY, NAT ADDERLEY, BRYAN
ALLEN, JOHNNY ALLEN, VERNON ALLEY QUARTET, GEORGE ARVANITAS, WAYMON ATKINSON • B •
BENNY BARTH, COUNT BASIE, YOLANDE BAVAN, TONY BAZLEY, WALTER BOLDEN,
JOE BRADLEY, BILLY BROOKS, TEDDY BUNN • C •
RON CARTER, JON CHRISTENSEN, ANDRÉ CONDOUANT,
LEE COOPER, CURTIS COUNCE, RICHIE CRABTREE • D • PALLE DANIELSSON, HANNAH
DEAN, MICHEL DELAPORTE, MICHAEL DENNERT, SIDNEY DESVIGNE, ERIC DOLPHY
• E • BILLY ECKSTINE, DON ELLIS, BOOKER ERVIN
• F • JOSE MARIA FARRAS, MAYNARD
FERGUSON, TOMMY FLANAGAN, ADRIÀ FONT • G • ERIC GALE, MICHEL GAUDRY,
BOBBY GIBBONS, RICHIE GOLDBERG, DEXTER GORDON, VALENTÍ GRAU,
FREDDIE GREEN, RANDY GREER, AL GREY • H •
JAN HAMMER, LIONEL HAMPTON ORCHESTRA, COLEMAN HAWKINS, LOUIS HAYES, JIMMY HEATH,
JON HENDRICKS, FREDDIE HUBBARD • I • IKE ISAACS • J • FRANK J. JACKSON, ALONZO
JOHNSON, TONY JOHNSON, CARMELL JONES, ELVIN JONES, THAD JONES, CLIFFORD
JORDAN • K • NORMAN KEENAN, BEVERLY
"BEV" KELLY, NANCY KING, SAUNDERS KING, NEAL KIRKWOOD, LEE KONITZ, STEVE
KUHN • L • DAVE LAMBERT, HAROLD LAND,
ARTIE LANGSTON, LOTI LEWIS, GEORGES LUCAS • M • TEO MACERO, GILDO MAHONES,
ALBERT MANGELSDORFF, KITTY MARGOLIS, STU MARTIN, ELLIOT MAZER, BIG MILLER,
BILLY MITCHELL, AL MOLINA, BUDDY MONTGOMERY, MONK MONTGOMERY, WES MONTGOMERY,
TETE MONTOLIU, JIRI MRAZ • N • JOE NAY, JOE NEWMAN,
SAL NISTICO, FLIP NUNEZ • P • PAUL PARKER, JEROME PARSON,
FRITZ PAUER, SONNY PAYNE, PEDRITO, CHARLIE PERSIP, ERIC PETER, DINA
POINDEXTER • Q • GENE QUILL
• R •
ANNIE ROSS, SONNY RED, HANS RETTENBACHER, MICHEL ROQUES • S •
PHARAOH SANDERS, TONY SCOTT, JIMMIE SMITH, RICARDO SOLIS • T • CLARK TERRY, JERRY THOMAS, RENE THOMAS, GEORGE TUCKER • V • JEAN-LOUIS VIALE
• W • ART WASHINGTON, BEN WEBSTER, MAGNI WENTZEL,
JIMMY WITHERSPOON, JIMMY WOODE, PHIL WOODS, JIMMY WORMSWORTH, LEO WRIGHT • Y • BILL YANCEY, WILLIAM YANCY,
LARRY YOUNG • • and many
Pony Poindexter on facebook
The Pony Express, Memoirs Of A Jazz Musician - Norwood "Pony" Poindexter
j. a. s. publication, (Germany), ISBN 3-923396-04X (self-published) [1st Edition, soft bound,
published in 1985], 296 pages, includes 16 photo pages. Pony Poindexter’s autobiography
which he mostly sold himself, tells of his life
and times including his early childhood around Oakland, his time in
Europe and his relationships with his jazz peers.
Note: This volume never showed up on anyone’s radar in it’s
concert review [D] discography
[I] interview [O]
photo [R] record review
22, 1973) [R]
features Pony Poindexter, Leo Wright, Lee Konitz,
DOWNBEAT (November 10, 1960)
click image to enlarge
San Francisco And Jazz: Story Of A Love Affair,
METRONOME jazz omnia
vincit issue (Aug. 1961) [A
This issue features, among others:
- Dan Morgenstern: Joe Carroll - Man With A Happy Sound.
- 'San Francisco Is Special'.
- 'The Role Of San Francisco In Jazz History' pictures King
Oliver’s Creole Band, Pony Poindexter and Kid Ory.
online articles about San Francisco´s clubs
Beach Jazz Festival - History
Music of the Fillmore-Scene
in the 70ies
(Bebop, Ballads, AND Blues at Club Sanchez)
Long Goodbye to San Francisco´s Jazz At Pearl's
the Best in Bay Area Jazz
The Coffee Gallery
Rexroth´s San Francisco
(columns from the San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Magazine 1960-1975)
Scenes: San Francisco Psychodelic Rock
(the jazz scene in the Fillmore district)
How Beat happened - An explosion of new forms
(collaboration between painters and poets, poets and musicians, filmmakers and poets)
The Jazz Cellar
Dizzy, Duke, The Count and Me -
The Story of the Monterey Jazz Festival,
Lyons / Ira Kamin. (1978) [P]
This is a very interesting 184 page Jazz photo book from 1978. "Here
are America's great jazz performers, both on and off the Monterey
stage, wonderfully alive, rebellious and outspoken. Jimmy Lyons, the
moving force behind the Monterey Festival and a major figure on the
jazz sce- ne, talks with humor, insight, and love about his Festival
and the many jazz musicians who have played it. Dizzy, Duke, The Count
and Me is illustrated with black and white pho- tographs by America's
top jazz photographers and new drawings by David Stone Martin. It
includes a com- plete listing of Festival performances through 1977.
At last we have an elaborate and warm-hearted tribute to jazz and
to the Monterey Jazz Festival". This great book has photos of these
artists: Monk, Diz, Pony Poindexter, Jon Hendricks, Billie, Duke,
Sly Stone, Horace Silver...
I discography 1 2 3 4