Jamey Aebersold

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Jamey Aebersold
Birth name Wilton Jameson Aebersold
Born (1939-07-21) July 21, 1939 (age 77)
New Albany, Indiana
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Educator, publisher
Instruments Saxophone
Years active 1967–present
Website www.jazzbooks.com

Wilton Jameson "Jamey" Aebersold (born July 21, 1939 in New Albany, Indiana)[1] is an American music educator and publisher.[2] His "Play-A-Long" series of instructional book and CD collections, using the chord-scale system, the first of which was released in 1967, are an internationally renowned resource for jazz education. As of 2013, 133 of these collections have been published by Aebersold, who taught musical improvisation at the University of Louisville for a number of years. He is also an adept pianist, alto saxophonist, bassist, and banjoist.

Play-A-Long series[edit]

Most of the volumes in Aebersold's "Play-A-Long" series feature a selection of 10-12 jazz standards, though some focus on scales, standardized chord progressions (like the blues), or original compositions by Aebersold's collaborators. The books contain charts for the tunes in question, transposed as necessary for instruments in C, B-flat, E-flat, and bass clef. The recordings normally feature a professional rhythm section (typically piano, bass, and drums, occasionally including guitar) performing an improvised accompaniment (or "comping") to each song. Melody instruments like saxophone and trumpet are omitted, enabling a jazz student to practice playing the song's melody, and improvising over the song's chord changes, with accompaniment. The piano and bass tracks are typically panned to opposite channels, so that a pianist or bassist can easily omit the recorded piano or bass part by muting the appropriate channel.

Perhaps the most well-known feature of the "Play-A-Long" series is Aebersold's distinctive voice, which counts off the tempo for each track on most Aebersold recordings.[3]

Summer Jazz Workshops[edit]

For over 50 years, Aebersold has also run "Summer Jazz Workshop" sessions at the University of Louisville (Louisville, Kentucky). Many leading educators and performers have served as Workshop faculty. The week-long event is billed as a place to learn jazz through hands-on experience, and provides an intensive learning environment for musicians of widely varying ages and levels. The standard Workshop curriculum includes master classes, ear-training sessions, jazz theory classes from beginning to advanced, and concerts by faculty.[4]

Aebersold also regularly performs and presents clinics at the Jazz Festival at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky. The festival was renamed the "Jamey Aebersold Jazz Festival" in 2015 to honor his many years of service to the jazz program at that institution.


In 2009, he was initiated as a member of the Alpha Alpha national honorary chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the oldest and largest music fraternity in the world, at its national convention in Orlando, Florida. At the same time, he was named the Fraternity's triennial recipient of the Charles E. Lutton Man of Music Award.

In July 2013, the National Endowment for the Arts included him for its 2014 Jazz Masters award, the nation's highest honor in jazz. Other recipients included Richard Davis, Keith Jarrett, and Anthony Braxton. Jamey Aebersold is the recipient of the 2014 A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Award for Jazz Advocacy, which is bestowed upon an individual who has contributed significantly to the appreciation, knowledge, and advancement of the art form of jazz. "Jamey Aebersold has made enormous contributions to the jazz world through his tireless efforts as a performer, educator, and publisher", said 2000 NEA Jazz Master David Baker who is also on the faculty of the Summer Jazz Workshops, directed by Aebersold. "As the creator of the innovative and groundbreaking Jamey Aebersold Jazz Play-A-Long recordings series, as the longtime director of the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops, as an exceptional clinician and performer, and as the publisher of an extensive catalogue of jazz materials, Jamey has revolutionized the way people practice, teach, create, and perform their music. Jamey has carried his message that 'anyone can improvise' and that 'creativity is part of the nature of every person' throughout the world to great success, impacting generations of both aspiring and established jazz performers and teachers."

These musicians and educators, now awarded the nation's highest honor in the field, are recognized for their lifetime achievements and exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz. They each received a one-time award of $25,000. An awards ceremony & concert was held held on January 13, 2014, at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, webcast live at arts.gov and jalc.org/live.

See also


  1. ^ Kennedy, Gary; Kernfeld, Barry (2002). "Aebersold, Jamey". In Barry Kernfeld. The new Grove dictionary of jazz, vol. 1 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. pp. 16–17. ISBN 1561592846. 
  2. ^ Cook, Richard (2005). Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia. London: Penguin Books. p. 4. ISBN 0-141-00646-3. 
  3. ^ "Jamey Aebersold teaches the world to swing". 
  4. ^ "Jamey Aebersold's® Summer Jazz Workshops". Summerjazzworkshops.com. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 

External links[edit]