Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
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, 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. During 1961-1963, Poindexter became a member of the vocal group's backup band. Doubling on soprano in the 1960s, Poindexter led one record date apiece for Epic (one that teamed him up with many top saxophonists including Eric Dolphy and Dexter Gordon), New Jazz, and Prestige. In 1963 he moved to Europe, performing with Annie Ross and leading an obscure recording date for Session in 1969; Poindexter also recorded with Phil Woods, Lee Konitz, and Leo Wright on Alto Summit. After 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 for Inner City the following year. He slipped away into obscurity and never gained the recognition he deserved. However, beginning in the 1990s and continuing into the new millennium, European labels began reissuing some of his recordings, including Pony's Express, his 1962 Epic debut as a leader reissued by Koch in 2001; Annie Ross & Pony Poindexter, from a 1966 concert in Frankfurt, Germany, originally released by Saba in 1967 and reissued by the Danish MPS label in 1993 and again in 2003; and In Barcelona, a 1972 septet recording featuring local musicians and his own daughter Dina vocalizing on two tracks, originally released on the Spiral Records label (as En Barcelona) and reissued by the Spanish Fresh Sound imprint in 2004.