Jazz guitarist Jimmy Ponder: A Case Study of Creative Processes and Identity Formation in American Popular Music

Colter Harper

This study examines musical and social processes in American popular music through the creative life of Pittsburgh born jazz guitarist Jimmy Ponder. I contextualize Ponder’s technical and conceptual approaches with a historical analysis of developments in jazz during the mid-20th century. In examining intersections between jazz and other popular forms of music during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, I aim to identify Ponder’s “musical identity,” which encapsulates the totality of his musical existence. In this study, I focus on relating musical sounds to social contexts and the processes that give these sound meaning. Musical identity, as a tool for examining the creative life of the jazz musician, is comprised of the individual’s approach to their instrument(s), recording, band leading, performance, song interpretation, and improvisation. From these approaches develops a “voice” with which the musician creates meaningful musical experiences (authentic performances) as well as engages certain social realities in public contexts (affective collective listening). Though I choose here to label Ponder as a “jazz” guitarist, a central goal of this paper is to demonstrate how his musical identity hinges on the discourse between jazz and other commercialized music born from the African-American social experience. I address such genres within the African-American musical tradition as blues, R&B, soul-jazz, and fusion and explore how Ponder negotiated contemporary musical contexts, drawing forth various stylistic elements from which he formed his “voice.”

Jazz guitarist  Jimmy Ponder: A Case Study of Creative Processes and Identity Formation in American Popular Music

This entry was posted in Jazz / Blues guitar, THE ELECTRIC GUITAR. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>