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Jazz Music

Pony Poindexter

Pony PoindexterOne 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, the 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 in Oakland. He was with the 1947 Billy Eckstine Big Band and toured with Eckstine a few times during 1948-1950. Poindexter was based in the San Francisco Bay Area during much of his life, traveling a bit while with Lionel Hampton during 1951-1952. 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 contribute lyrics for the version recorded by Lambert, Hendricks & Ross later in the decade.
From 1961 to 1964, he played backup for Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, who together also recorded a vocal version of "Little Pony". He was one of the first bebop saxophonists to begin playing soprano saxophone early in the 1960s, and recorded with Eric Dolphy and Dexter Gordon on a session for Epic Records around 1962. In 1963 he moved to Paris; while there he recorded with Ross, Phil Woods, Lee Konitz and Leo Wright. He later moved to Spain and then to Mannheim, Germany; in 1977 he returned to San Francisco and recorded again. He published an autobiography, Pony Express, in 1985, but had been largely forgotten by the time of his death in 1988.

 

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