Greetings JazzPianoSkills Fam!
This week I released part one of a two-part interview I did with jazz legend Jamey Aebersold. Needless to say, it was a thrill to officially meet Jamey - after all, I've known him my entire life through his innovative Play-A-Long Series, and countless jazz education books. I got to spend a couple of hours with one of my jazz heroes and it was a blast. Here are some of my takeaways from our time together.
1. Jamey Aebersold the musician
All it takes is just a few minutes of discussion with Jamey to quickly discover how accomplished he is as a musician. From his early days as a banjo player to his diverse experience as a woodwinds specialist (saxophone being his primary instrument) to his ability to get around on double bass, piano, and just about any other instrument that he chooses to pick up, Jamey's depth of musical understanding and his ability to demonstrate that knowledge using a variety of instruments is simply astonishing (and quite honestly, very humbling). What is even more impressive is the realization that what drives Jamey's desire to functionally play practically every instrument known to mankind is his desire to be able to model for students the essential musical skills needed to help them achieve their goals. Yep, it doesn't take but just a few minutes of conversation with Jamey Aebersold to figure out that he actually cares (for real!). He sincerely cares about every student obtaining musical success, especially their ability to improvise, to play jazz.
2. Jamey Abersold the entrepreneur
As a businessman myself and someone who aspires to be a successful entrepreneur, I marvel at the global success Jamey has enjoyed. For 50 years (and counting), the name Jamey Aebersold has been literally synonymous with the very best in jazz education materials. His website, JazzBooks.com, makes available to students around the globe his innovative Play-A-Long Series (which contains well over 100 volumes), countless Books, DVDs, CDs, Fakebooks, and more. Jamey's Summer Jazz Workshops have had a profound effect on musical communities throughout the United States and around the world (Australia, New Zealand, Germany, England, Scotland, Denmark, and Canada). As is impressive as the Aebersold business success story is, it is even more impressive that Jamey remains the catalyst behind the day-to-day operations at the young age of 83!
3. Jamey Abebersold the educator
Jamey has a genuine love and passion for teaching. This is apparent in his continuous guest-educator appearances in cities around the world. Throughout his professional career, Jamey has taught at three colleges and universities in the Louisville, Kentucky area It is so refreshing to know that an accomplished musician like Jamey Aebersold loves teaching young and old. Your age makes no difference to Jamey - if you want to study jazz and learn how to improvise he will help you! While conducting a jazz clinic in Brazil he produced a 110-minute DVD/video appropriately titled Anyone Can Improvise which has become a best-seller around the world.
4. Jamey Aebersold the community servant
What many people do not know about Jamey is his passion to help all people addicted to smoking, quit. After spending time with Jamey and hearing about his conviction to put educational materials in the hands of smokers in hopes of educating them with regard to the irreparable damage they are doing to their bodies and the shortening of their lives, I dare to say that Jamey is just as passionate about this important cause as he is about the sharing and teaching of jazz. Only an individual with a true teacher's heart can care so much about helping strangers and Jamey Aebersold has a genuine teacher's heart.
5. Jamey Aebersold the guy next door
Well, after spending time with Jamey and soaking in all of his professional and personal accomplishments, I can honestly say that they all pale in comparison to his heartfelt kindness. Jamey was amazingly gracious and welcoming to me, a total stranger. As soon as our conversation began I felt right at home with Jamey. It was as if we had been next-door neighbors for years. We talked music, shared stories, and laughed for two hours which actually felt like two minutes. I was once told by a very wise man, that when you are with someone and time feels as if it stops, whether you realize it or not, you just experienced a glimpse of heaven on earth. I can affirm that spending a couple of hours with Jamey was indeed like heaven on earth!
If you have not listened to the Jamey Aebersold podcast interview I want to invite you to do so now; you'll be so happy you did.
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Dr. Bob Lawrence