The music and memories of Gloucester's jazz legend Herb Pomeroy will come to life Friday night at a special concert featuring the late trumpeter's favorite tunes — performed by musicians who played in his bands.
This band of seven musicians, all in demand for their own gigs, are coming together for this special show at Fuller Auditorium as part of a 10-month concert series held in collaboration with the city and Berklee College of Music.
Pomeroy — like many of the musicians on stage tomorrow night — was a long-time professor at Berklee, and some of the band members have been so for close to 50 years.
"They are all giants on their instruments. This is going to be a fun night," said Phil Wilson, who was lead trombone player in Pomeroy's big band. "Everybody in the band has had a musical relationship with Herb Pomeroy at some time in their life, and quite sizable. This whole thing is being done with a whole lot of love."
Wilson, who graduated from Phillips Academy in Exeter, N.H., wanted to attend Berklee in the 1950s because he wanted to study with Pomeroy (1930-2007), so great was his reputation.
"In 1954, I sat in with him at the old Stable, one of the legendary jazz hangouts in the 1950s and 1960s," recalled Wilson. "That particular night was a night I first played not only with Herb but with Ray Santisi, Herb's piano player for most of his career."
Wilson, now 75, is the second most senior professor at Berklee, with Santisi the longest-standing.
In his day, Pomeroy, too, was a senior instructor, having mentored Berklee students for 40 years.
Pomeroy gained fame as a young man in his early 20s, playing with the likes of Charlie Parker, Lionel Hampton, Stan Kenton and Duke Ellington. He later joined the teaching staffs of Berklee, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and New England Conservatory.
Wilson talked about the various musicians for this event.
"Jeff Stout, a professor at Berklee, came out of the Buddy Rich's big band, and he's taking Herb's place on the trumpet," he said.
On clarinet and tenor sax is Tom Ferrante.
"He's the guy who plays Benny Goodman for the Boston Pops. He also was the baritone sax in Herb Pomeroy's big band," said Wilson. "He was very close to Herb."
John Repucci, a long-standing professor at Berklee, is co-chairman of its bass department and was Pomeroy's bass player. On drums is Artie Cabral, who was Pomeroy's drummer and part of Pomeroy's trio in the last 15 years of his life. On piano will be Paul Schmeling, a master interpreter, improviser and arranger.
"Each one of us had something that ties us in some way to Herb, and this will be reflected in the program," said Wilson. "There's an old be-bop tune called 'Bernie's Tune,' which I first played with Herb in 1954 at the Stable. Not long before he died, we were both playing a benefit for Rebecca Parris and this was the last conversation I had with him. We were backstage and for some reason we were talking about way back and I asked if he remembered when I sat in with him at the Stable, and he said 'Oh yeah, we played "Bernie's Tune."'"
That will be performed tomorrow night. Other tunes include one of Pomeroy's favorites "I Found a New Baby," as well as "How My Heart Sings," and some of Duke Ellington, who was a huge influence on Pomeroy, including the tune "Don't Get Around Much Any More." That one will feature Stout with his plunger, something Pomeroy was known for.
This is a homecoming of sorts for these musicians in Pomeroy's hometown.
"Herb had an influence in all our lives," said Wilson. "He gave us all a whole lot of work, good work, and Herb's good for quality. That's the way he lived his life and these are the top guys in the business."
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
What: Herb Pomeroy tribute concert, featuring musicians from the late jazz legend's bands.
When: Friday, May 18 at 8 p.m.
Where: Fuller Auditorium at Blackburn Circle in Gloucester.
How much: $20. Tickets on sale at the door, at the Liquor Locker and Gloucester Music, or through Dan Leahy at 978-876-1953. Doors open at 7 p.m. There will be refreshments at the intermission.
Senior special: An anonymous donor purchased 100 tickets for senior citizens, which will be distributed by the Rose Baker Senior Center.