Herb takes a cab

If you google Herb Pomeroy the first result you get is Wikipedia, naturally – but there, I just saved you the trouble.

I took two out of the three courses he offered at Berklee – Line Writing and Arranging in the Style of Duke Ellington. I was sorta game to take the third course, Jazz Composition, but I was pretty much through with Berklee mentally, and besides, little Johnny Blazes was on her way. Now I wish I had taken it. I wished I had taken it pretty much a year after I left Berklee, when I was studying with Charlie Banacos.

So, I guess I’m a member of the Herb Taught Me club. I have to say, I ran in to him a couple of times after my Berklee years, saw him play, and he remembered me and asked me how it was going. Well, it was going alright, though the day gig was taking over my life and I wasn’t playing or writing enough. That’s cool, he’d say.

As he takes his place on the Great Bandstand In The Sky, I can report that it’s still going alright, and I’m still not playing or writing enough, but at least I’m still playing and writing. More than twenty years later, his techniques are still with me in my thinking about harmony and voicing. I’m always acutely aware of how many PDs are in a given voicing I write or play, and I still don’t give a rat’s ass about low interval limits but still worry about them getting redlined, and I’m constantly on the lookout for that vague, ambiguous, non obvious voicing that would make Herb nod. Other rules keep plaguing me (such as no 5 and #5 allowed in a dominant 7th voicing), and after many years I think I’m beginning to understand why. It boils down to taste. And style.

I’ve got a confession for you, Herb. That last year, I did all my homework about an hour before class. Well, you probably knew that anyway. So thanks for teaching me. I still appreciate it.

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