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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 while learning to play chess with my uncles. They would play smooth jazz, and then switch up to more standard types of jazz. But, when they played Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, I was
hooked and I haven't looked back.