MMW: Jimmy Ponder

Artist: Jimmy Ponder

Description: “Jimmy Ponder, began playing at age 11 and is self-taught. He was playing clubs regularly by age 13. He began his musical life playing “doo-wop” music, and his earliest influences included The Temptations and early Stevie Wonder. He lived in Philadelphia then in early 1970′s (mid 20s) moved to New York leading his own groups. He considers Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell to be his two main early influences and Wes Montgomery later on.” (from Wikipedia)

Quotes from an interview with WRCT’s Gordon Spencer:
“I’ve had only one guitar lesson and that was around ’66 (age 20) from a guitarist that worked with Jimmy MacGriff named Thornell Schwartz. He had me come over to his place one afternoon and I sat and I listened and I learned a great deal. And that was the only lesson I have ever had. Other than that I’ve sat and I’ve listened and deciphered and I’ve taught myself. The more people you work with the more you’re exposed and you take that home.”

“Here were clubs on the North Side here in Pittsburgh, when I was 15 or 16, where I was told that if I didn’t play to the crowd’s satisfaction, I might get beat up. And I took the engagement anyway and I played. When I was a kid I would practice an average of six hours a day. And I continued that when I went on the road.”

“Charles Earland came through Pittsburgh in 1963 (age 17) He came to The Hurricane and the guitar player was asleep on the job and I had gotten a copy of Earland’s latest 45 Daily Dozen and I learned the guitar solo backwards and forwards. And Bertie Dunlap, the owner of The Hurricane, allowed me to play. And I told Earland ‘My mother is not gonna let me go out of town until I get my diploma. So 2 years later, he came back. He said ‘Are you ready to go?’ and I said ‘Yes, indeed’. And I never looked back until I moved back to Pittsburgh (ca. 2000).”

He has played with Dizzy Gillespie, Stanley Turrentine, Groove Holmes, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band, Hank Crawford, Jimmy MacGriff, Jack McDuff, and Sonny Stitt, Lou Donaldson, Houston Person, Donald Byrd. He has played on approximately 80 albums so far.

He’s been teaching at several colleges and is an artist-in-residence at Duquesne University. “I teach basic fundamental reading, I teach guitarists how to teach themselves how to read.”

“I try to make a decent living playing the music and dealing with the performance side of it and then to teach and then writing and recording. It’s still not enough. I live below the poverty level. I persevere. I got into it loving it and you’re never paid for what you love. You’re never paid what you’re worth.”

Hear it: “Classics” with Gordon Spencer, Sundays at 3 p.m.

Playlist:
“Jimmy Ponder-What’s New” High Note HCD 7100
“Please Send Me Someone to Love” w/ Gene Ludwig, org-Cecil Brooks III, dms
“Hank Crawford-Down on the Deuce” Milestone LP M 9129
“Survival” Massive Music Weekend playlist for program Sunday February 17th 111:30- 12
pm. Featuring Belzehoover/Pittsburgh’s guitarist Jimmy Ponder born 1946. He solos on every
selection below.
“Jimmy Ponder-What’s New” High Note HCD 7100
“Please Send Me Someone to Love” w/ Gene Ludwig, org-Cecil Brooks III, dms
“Hank Crawford-Down on the Deuce” Milestone LP M 9129
“Survival” w/Crawford, as-Cedar Walton,p
“Jimmy Ponder-Somebody’s Child” High Note HCD 7165
Title & “Kickin’ Da Bobo” w/ Howard Alexander, p-Jeff Grubbs, b
“Jimmy McGriff-Skywalk” Milestone LP M 9126
Title w/ McGriff, org-Arnold Sterling, as
“Jimmy Ponder-Somebody’s Child” High Note HCD 7165
Title & “Kickin’ Da Bobo” w/ Howard Alexander, p-Jeff Grubbs, b
“Jimmy McGriff-Skywalk” Milestone LP M 9126
Title w/ McGriff, org-Arnold Sterling, as