Pony Poindexter Day

February 8, 1926 – April 14, 1988

 

A tribute to the boppish altoist

Alto-saxophonist Norwood “Pony” Poindexter was born on February 8, 1926 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

His first instrument was the clarinet before taking up the alto and tenor sax.

Poindexter served in the military during World War II. and then worked with Billy Eckstine (1947-50), a quartet with bassist Vernon Alley, Lionel Hampton (1951-52) and briefly with Stan Kenton in 1952.

Neal Hefti’s original “Little Pony” was named after Poindexter although the altoist never worked with Count Basie (whose orchestra made the piece famous) nor apparently recorded that song.

Poindexter made his first records in 1949 with Teddy Bunn and Saunders King but he would not reappear on records again until 1959 when he recorded with Jon Hendricks and Wes Montgomery.

The first half of the 1960s found Pony Poindexter at his highest profile, working and recording with Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, featured on solo projects by Bev Kelly and Jon Hendricks, and leading several albums of his own including Pony’s Express which had him (mostly on soprano) leading a saxophone section that included Eric Dolphy, Sonny Rd, Clifford Jordan, Jimmy Heath and Pepper Adams with Phil Woods and Dexter Gordon on some numbers.

Pony Poindexter moved to Paris in 1964 (later living in Spain, Germany and finally San Francisco) and ,while he remained active (recording with Rene Thomas, Dexter Gordon, Annie Ross and on 1968’s Alto Summit, he became largely forgotten in the U.S.

Poindexter’s last recordings were sets as a leader in 1972 and 1978 and his career ended in 1980 after suffering a stroke; he wrote his autobiography Pony’s Express which was published in 1985.

Pony Poindexter performs “Milestones” on Belgian TV in the mid-1960s with an all-star group.

Personnel:

Pony Poindexter, alto sax
Ted Curson, trumpet
Booker Ervin, tenor sax
Nathan Davis, flute
Kenny Drew, piano
Jimmy Woode, bass
Edgar Bateman, drums

-Scott Yanow