Jerry Tolson is Professor of Music Education and Jazz Studies and Chair of the Academic and Professional Studies Department in the School of Music at the University of Louisville where, along with classroom instruction in jazz history, African American Music, Jazz Pedagogy, and Methods, he directs instrumental and vocal jazz ensembles. He taught previously at Central College (IA) and the University of Nebraska-Omaha as well as several Iowa high schools.
A graduate of Drake University and the University of North Texas, Mr. Tolson is an active clinician, adjudicator, and guest conductor. He has made presentations at national and international conferences such as IAJE, JEN, and NAfME; numerous state conferences; and the Midwest Clinic, as well as universities in the U.S. and abroad. Tolson has also conducted All-State groups in numerous states including Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, and Tennessee. As a composer and arranger, his vocal jazz works are published by UNC Jazz Press. He is an author for Kendor Music, a clinician/consultant for Alfred Music Publishing Company and a content consultant for Pearson/Prentice Hall Educational Publications. Tolson has published articles in The Instrumentalist, Jazz Educators Journal, and Music Educators Journal and was a contributing author to the following publications, Teaching Music Through Performance in Jazz (GIA) and The Jazz Director’s Handbook and Resource Guide (Alfred). In addition, he has been a faculty member of the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops for over twenty years.
As a performer on woodwinds, keyboards, and vocals, Tolson leads three of his own groups including a jazz trio, quartet and a big band and has worked with such artists Delfeayo Marsalis, Antonio Hart, Rufus Reid, Don Braden, Winard Harper, Pete Christlieb, Phil Wilson, James Moody, Benny Golson, Kevin Mahogany, and Marvin Stamm. Tolson has released three CD’s of original jazz compositions Nu View, Back at the Track, and Fresh Squeezed, and his jazz groups have appeared at local and regional jazz events as well as festivals in Switzerland, Italy, Brazil, and Barbados.
Tolson has been named to “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers”, and has received the Kentucky Music Educators “College Teacher of the Year” award, the University of Louisville Exemplary Multicultural Teaching Award, and has twice been recognized with the University of Louisville Distinguished Faculty Service Award. Mr. Tolson’s other professional memberships include the College Music Society, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), the American Federation of Musicians, Kentucky Association for Jazz Education, Jazz Education Network, and National Association for Music Education (NAfME).