Jazz and More, Step by Step with Jerry Tolson

Steve and Alan talk with Jerry Tolson about the right ways to approach jazz education, race, and more in the music classroom. 

Links & References:

Dr. Tolson’s Recommended Introductory Jazz Listening:

  • Lester Young, saxophone
  • Johnny Hodges, saxophone
  • Paul Desmond, saxophone
  • Roy Eldridge, trumpet
  • Miles Davis, trumpet
  • Curtis Fuller, trombone
  • Wynton Kelly, piano

Jerry Tolson is a native of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa and after receiving his bachelor’s degree from Drake University in Des Moines, he taught band at several Iowa high schools.  He earned his master’s degree at the University of North Texas and taught at Central College (IA) and the University of Nebraska-Omaha. In 1993 he joined the music faculty at the University of Louisville. He is now professor of jazz studies and music education at the University, where he is chair of the department of academic and professional studies, coordinates the music history area, directs jazz ensembles and teaches jazz pedagogy, jazz style, jazz history, and African American Music classes.

Tolson has made presentations at state, regional, and national Music Education conferences, the International Association for Jazz Education Conference, Jazz Education Network, the International Academy of Law and Mental Health, and the Midwest Clinic, as well as universities in the U.S. and abroad. As a composer/arranger Tolson has written over 150 original tunes and dozens of arrangements for both large and small instrumental ensembles as well as vocal jazz ensembles.  His vocal jazz works are published by UNC Jazz Press.  He is a clinician/consultant for Alfred Music and Kendor Music Publishing Companies, a content consultant for Pearson/Prentice Hall Educational Publications, and serves as an adjudicator, guest conductor, and jazz camp instructor internationally. Tolson has directed All-State and Honor Jazz Ensembles in Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Kentucky.  In addition, he is a long-time faculty member of the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops.

He is the educational director for the University of Louisville Jazz Festival and co-founder of U of L’s African American Music Heritage Institute, a celebration of the contributions of African Americans to America’s musical history, as well a national series of jazz teacher training institutes.  Tolson’s articles have appeared in Music Educator’s Journal, Jazz Educator’s Journal, The Journal of Jazz Studies, The International Journal of Law and Psychiatry and The Instrumentalist, and he is a contributor to the following publications: Teaching Music Through Performance in Jazz, Volumes I and II (ed. Carter and Miles), Jazz Pedagogy:  The Jazz Educator’s Handbook and Resource Guide (Dunscomb and Hill), and The Jazzer’s Cookbook: Creative Recipes for Players and Teachers. His jazz pedagogy book, The Jazz Commandments: Guidelines for Jazz Articulation and Style, is published by Kendor Music.