Jerry Tolson is Associate Professor of Music Education and Jazz Studies at the University of Louisville where, along with classroom instruction in jazz history, African American Music, Jazz Styles and Methods, he directs instrumental and vocal jazz ensembles. He previously taught at Central College in Iowa 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 throughout the United States, and has written numerous instrumental and vocal jazz works. He has also been involved in organizing and administrating jazz festivals and community jazz groups in several states including the University of Louisville Jazz Week Festival, a week-long celebration of jazz on the U of L campus. In addition, he is a faculty member of the prestigious Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops and has been an instructor at numerous other jazz camps including the 1,000 Hills Summer Jazz Camp in Kirksville, MO., the Mile High Jazz Camp in Boulder, CO, and the City Stages Jazz Camp in Birmingham, AL.
Mr. Tolson has made workshop presentations at the National MENC conference, the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) Conference, the International Academy of Law and Mental Health, the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, and the Southern Regional conference of MENC. He co-founded the Kentuckiana Jazz Style Summer Workshop at Bellarmine University in Louisville. He also co-founded U of L's African American Music Heritage Institute, a celebration of the contributions of African Americans to America's musical history, and is co-founder of a series of teacher training institutes sponsored by IAJE that are held at several sites around the country. He has been named to "Who's Who Among America's Teachers", and was the Kentucky Music Educators Association "1998-99 College Teacher of the Year".
As a performer on woodwinds, keyboards, and vocals, Tolson leads three of his own groups including a jazz quartet and a big band and has worked with such popular artists as the Temptations, Four Tops, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Manhattan Transfer, Pete Christlieb, Phil Wilson, James Moody, Benny Golson, Kevin Mahogany, and Marvin Stamm. Tolson has released two CDs of original jazz compositions Nu View in July 1999 and Back at the Track in 2003. Tolson's jazz groups have appeared at local and regional jazz festivals including the Louisville Jazz and Blues Festival, Jazz In Central Park, and the Legacies Music Festival, and have been featured on the Kentucky Center for the Arts "Jazz Cabaret Series". Tolson's jazz groups have appeared at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland as well as the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy. They have also toured the island of Barbados and performed for the Barbadian Prime Minister.
Mr. Tolson is a board member of the University Club of Louisville and the University of Louisville Athletic Association Board, and is a former executive board member of the International Association of Jazz Educators and the Louisville Jazz Society. Mr. Tolson's other professional memberships include the College Music Society, National Band Association, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), the American Federation of Musicians, the National Band Association, Kentucky Association for Jazz Education, Jazz Education Network, and Music Educators National Conference.