Ponder's creative voice does not live solely in his recorded output. As creative processes differ from the stage to the studio, so do the end products. Live performances exist in the memories of the participants, both performers and audience members, while recordings exist in a concrete form that is consumed by individuals removed from the creative process. To understand Ponder's voice, or that of any improvising musician, requires an examination of the creative processes involved in both live and studio performances. Ponder draws as much from formative life experiences as he does from harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic norms in improvising. When improvisations are examined outside of their social context, they become theoretical ideas independent of the ideals from which they were created. I have, in this study, aimed to approach those creative processes that have enabled Ponder to develop a musical identity. While Ponder succeeds as a creative individual worthy of the status of innovator, those formative processes involved in creating his voice apply across the phenomenon of modern African-American popular music. What remains intriguing is the creative success of the individual in the midst of this uniformity.
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.