JazzPianoSkills welcomes jazz legend, Jamey Aebersold. Jamey is a professional saxophonist, entrepreneur, publisher, author, innovator, and educator.
Welcome to JazzPianoSkills, I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It’s time to Discover, Learn, and Play jazz piano! Today, you are in for a real treat! I am joined by saxophonist, entrepreneur, author, educator, and jazz legend Jamey Aebersold.
Jamey Aebersold was born July 21, 1939, in New Albany, Indiana. He attended college at Indiana University and graduated in 1962 with a Master's Degree in Saxophone. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music by Indiana University in 1992. He also plays piano, bass, and banjo.
In 1989, the International Association of Jazz Educators inducted Jamey into their Hall of Fame at the San Diego convention. With this award, Jamey Aebersold joins other jazz luminaries such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, and others.
Jamey Aebersoldis an internationally-known saxophonist and authority on jazz education and improvisation and has developed a series of Jazz Play-A-Longs (book and cd sets (now numbering almost 130 volumes) as well as various other supplemental aids for the development of improvisational skills. The Aebersoldbook and recording sets allow a musician the opportunity to practice and improvise with well-known jazz personalities at home as well as in the classroom. The recordings employ some of the best jazz musicians in the world. This concept has been responsible for changing the practice habits of thousands of musicians around the world.
Jamey Aebersoldwas one of the first to encourage small group classes which concentrate on jazz improvisation, and he is the director of the Summer Jazz Workshops which now have 40+ years on record. Jamey feels that improvisation is something all people can do—and his clinics and lectures concentrate on demonstrating how the creative and spontaneous nature of each person can be brought to light.
These week-long Summer Jazz Workshops are having a profound effect on musical communities around the world. The Workshops have traveled to Australia, New Zealand, Germany, England, Scotland, Denmark, and Canada. Every summer there are at least two week-long Workshops in the U.S. These camps employ many of the finest players/teachers in jazz and are open to any serious jazz student regardless of ability or age.
In 2007, Jamey Aebersold was awarded the Indiana Governor's Arts Award by Mitch Daniels, the Governor of Indiana.
On October 4, 1987, CBS' "Sunday Morning" with Charles Kuralt and Billie Taylor featured Jamey with the Summer Jazz Workshops in an exciting jazz educational segment.
Jamey Aebersoldhas taught at three colleges and universities in the Louisville, Kentucky area and has made guest appearances in dozens of cities around the world. 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.
Jamey's hobby is listening to jazz, especially new young players. He also enjoys playing basketball (he has hit 50 free throws in a row!) and is very much interested in Metaphysics and spiritual pursuits as they apply to the growth of the individual. In December 2004, the Jazz Midwest Clinic bestowed upon Jamey the "Medal of Honor" in Jazz Education.
In 2014, Jamey Aebersoldwas awarded The National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award, the nation's highest honor in jazz. Jamey Aebersold is the recipient of the 2014 A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Award for Jazz Advocacy.
Dr. Bob Lawrence
President, The Dallas School of Music
Dr. Bob Lawrence 0:32
Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. Today I continue my interview with jazz legend Jamey Aebersold. If you haven't listened to last week's episode, part one of my interview with Jamie, then I want to encourage you to do so before jumping into this episode part two. As I mentioned last week, Jamey Aebersold has, without question impacted the world of jazz education more than any other individual, ever, past current, and quite possibly future. No one and I mean, no one has done more to help 1000s of aspiring jazz musicians from around the world to discover, learn and play jazz. Jamie Ebersol is a highly decorated professional saxophonist, entrepreneur, publisher, author, innovator, educator, and of course, jazz legend, Jamie has earned honorary doctorate degrees. He's been inducted into the jazz educators Hall of Fame, and countless other accomplishments as well. And accolades. In fact, it's best if you just take a few minutes to read his bio at jazz piano skills podcast.com To really appreciate everything that Jamey Aebersold has done and achieved. Now both the audio and video formats are available for this podcast episode. And of course, you can listen to the audio version of this episode through any of the popular podcast directories such as I Heart Radio, Spotify, Apple podcast, Google podcast, Amazon, music, Pandora, and on and on and on. Or you can go directly to the jazz panel skills podcast website, jazz piano skills podcast.com, where you can also watch the video of this episode of this interview as well, which I strongly recommend that you do. Now, it is my great pleasure and honor to welcome back to jazz piano skills. Mr. Jamey Aebersold
Jamey Aebersold 2:45
I can remember a very professional draw say it was John Laporta. Big Band Camp at Storrs, Connecticut, we had gone out with somebody in their car to get an ice cream cone, I'm in the backseat. And I just come out with my first play along record, of course, it looked like this LP, you know, logged on the airplane up there and was trying to sell the cup to the students. And he must have understood that my first three tracks were Dorian matters. So he's eating his ice cream, and I'm in the backseat, and the guys driving. And John says I don't consider to be the door of the Dorian minor scale to be an entity and itself. Well, that went right over my head until I got back to the dormitory. And then I realized he didn't like my new approach to jazz improvisation, of telling the student what the scale is. At that time, I didn't even darken in the chord tones. As a matter of fact, there was a scale page, and I just put the symbol F minor period F minor seven, it was supposed to know that scale. They didn't know what they went back to the page. But my point in saying this is, I think I was of the opinion early on, that if you showed the person a skill that's being sounded that would help them to play the sound, and to possibly make music and improvise and feel good about what they're doing and not give up. Not that
Dr. Bob Lawrence 4:05
right. Yeah. Yeah, it's very interesting. Jamey, I just interviewed on the show. This last month, Bert Ligon, who is a UNT, North Texas grad. And he had a really funny comment that has just stuck with me. He said, he goes, I must admit, Bob, I don't practice scales anymore. And it hit me odd when he first said it, he goes, but I do practice. He said, I do practice arpeggios all the time with passing tones.
Jamey Aebersold 4:35
All right, what a sneaky way to say the same thing. A Burt's book, he's got one or two books out very, very good. Excellent,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 4:46
very excellent books. But you know, but he was making that point how important you know how you blacked in the chord tones, right? You got your scale written on your books and you black and that's basically he's saying that's how he hears it. He hears He hears that chord that arpeggio inside that scale. So he says I practice my arpeggios with passing tones. Oh, yeah. Interesting.
Jamey Aebersold 5:11
Do you mind if I add you to my big go? Jazz email list?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 5:16
Oh, no, I love it. Yeah. But but a couple of months ago,
Jamey Aebersold 5:19
we had a discussion amongst the 6789 10 musicians about Coleman Hawkins versus Lester Young. The Cardinal vertical approach, right versus the horizontal approach. Or linear,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 5:30
right? Yeah, that'd be bad. Yeah, I'd enjoy I'd enjoy getting in on that discussion. That would be fantastic.
Jamey Aebersold 5:36
Can I play one more thing on the piano? Oh,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 5:39
Jamey, play whatever you want. I have nowhere to go today, man.
Jamey Aebersold 5:45
I wish I could play the piano. Okay, just Oh, yeah. Okay. Here's something that I like to do. And that is? Well, yeah. Oh, you're a lord little bit, you can't see it, though. It's not good. I don't want to touch this thing. Okay, here's what I'm gonna do. I do this for all instruments at once a week at the camp on the grand piano setting and save this. Now once you're listening to this, I'm going to put a B flat in the melody above middle C. That note is going to be in every scale, every card, I hit OK, I'm going to show you the possible right card with a B flat triad. Now the base node is going to come up in half steps. So that B flat on the top is now the major seven. When I go to see it's alert seventh of a manner are a major are
Dr. Bob Lawrence 6:55
right, that's exactly
Jamey Aebersold 6:58
in the key of C sharp or D flat now. Notice there is a major part
D sharp five, E flat, B flat major, minor to B have to write that card right. And now we're going to go to E and that B flat is a sharp four F and it's C minor and usually, when I get here I do something like this right? The sound is part of salsa music, you know, and then on some signal they go for two days and then right, you know what I'm talking about? Right? Then you go to F sharp
when you get to the G it's the sharp nine - he got a flat it's the ninth of major I'm sorry, major F sharp triad in the melody, C sharp and Asia and that chord there are associated with one of Wayne chartered students then the next note in the left hands gonna be the B flat and you're back to a triad so if I were to do that fast
Dr. Bob Lawrence 9:05
Yeah, right. Right. Yeah, yeah, you have to have a pretty strong understanding of harmony.
Jamey Aebersold 9:12
Yes, you do a whole lot of messing around.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 9:15
Right or a whole lot of messing around you know. The same that same gentleman Warren parachute said who told me that you know, oh, and he always after the try tone sub comment that he made he from there on referred to me as college boy because I use the term tried tone sub he referred to me Yeah, college boy. Right. The same. He also said to me when I was a young boy said, Do you really want to improvise? Do you really want to improvise? I said yes. And he goes, Do you want to get good at playing melodies and improvise? I said yes, of course, I do. And then he said well then study harmony. Oh, it'd be hard. Yeah. And I and I thought, study harmony because at 14 I was thinking harmony Melody were two different things. I didn't realize they were one and the same. And again, he was stressing the importance that melody flowing from that harmonic understanding of the words that the chords that you're applying, you know, so I thought I thought I thought that was very fascinating. It's a no comment that just stuck with me all my life.
Jamey Aebersold 10:17
Yes, yeah. Have you ever thought much about the left and the right brain and how it affects a person's approach to the keyboard? Or to music? ARCHA melody art?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 10:32
Yeah, and I have an I have students who asked me that all the time about that in a kind of a tongue-in-cheek answer. I always give them I always say, hey, you know what, I want you to use both sides of the brain. Exactly. I want you to use the whole thing.
Jamey Aebersold 10:44
Yeah, I have this description, or it's a picture of the left and right brain, and what goes on? It's from job proposals book, the whole brain approach or whole-brain approach to improvisation? Yes, yeah. And I got that back in the 80s. From him. And it made me stop and think I grew up as a right-brain person. Right. The scales was something you did there was. It was it was not fun. It was not fun. If my teacher way back there, Jamie. Next week, after playing the piano and practicing for a year or two, next week, I want you to come in and play. I want you to play a little a solo, I want you to improvise. I want you to make something up. Why don't you know I'd still be playing the piano. And I wouldn't I had to wander over to banjo, sax, flute, piano. All this other stuff. I would have been a piano player, you know, I would have bops to do what I hear on my
Dr. Bob Lawrence 11:36
right. Well, you know, but you know, you grew up in a time though that you had to be you know what left brain focused because the books the materials didn't really start surfacing till the 60s, right. So, like the like, you know, the free first book I had was the old John Mehegan jazz pianists book, right a little he had a three-volume. Do you remember that book in that series? In fact, I Yeah. And I use that chart all the time to sit the 60 jazz chords out of the Mehegan book. Right called the the jazz pianist. Exactly. But until then, but until then, now you had to just listen and poke around and roam and be creative, right?
Jamey Aebersold 12:26
Yes. You made me think of something else. We were at Elmhurst, we did our camps at Elmhurst College right here. And one night, the faculty were playing like they would do three groups would play all night. But on this particular night, a famous jazz piano player who was working with me was accompanying and playing piano for a tenor and a trumpet. And during the tenors, Soto, on some tune, he kind of got off. So from a piano standpoint, when you hear somebody get off, you start feeding him some cards to help him get back. All right, correct. Correct. Correct. So what did this person do? Nothing. Right. They stopped playing, and kind of sit back on the keyboard. And I'm sitting over here in the lobby was in a big open room, listening. And I said, Don't do that. Don't do. So I said, Give him some cards, put him back on track. Help him? He didn't. He didn't help him. No. Oh, so I'm telling you, piano players, out there that this is an important story in my life. When the concert when that concert was over, I took him aside. And I said I don't appreciate what you did. And he said, What do you mean? I said You know what I'm talking about so and so's lost. And you didn't give him the help that she should have given them? Hey, man, these guys shouldn't be playing if they can't keep their place. I said, Hey, boy, these people are not playing six nights a week like you. These people are educators. They're here because I asked him to come here to teach not to play on the concert. But it's their choice to play or to not to play. And this should be your choice to always help the people plan as I make a fool of these people in front of all these students here. So that was the end of that.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 14:08
Yeah, I don't know of anyone if they're being completely honest. Who has who hasn't got lost or turned around in a tune or turned around in time? It happens to everybody. Oh, yeah. And we all need that help once in a while, man, you know, I've heard up I've looked up many times at the drummer, like, Hey, I'm turned around, and he's got to give me some kind of rim shot or something to get me back. Oh, there's one you know, well,
Jamey Aebersold 14:30
you know, if it really gets turned around, you look at the hi-hat if all of a sudden the highest. Free,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 14:35
right? That's right. That's exactly. Yep, that's exactly right. So, okay, um, talk, real talk about improvisation practice, right. This is almost seems like to a lot of people. This almost seems like contradictory terms. Improv is a practicing improvisation because they're thinking wait a minute, improvisation is isn't that supposed to be improv? So what would you say to listeners about the dos and don'ts about starting to really develop good habits of practicing improvisation?
Jamey Aebersold 15:11
Well, I think it comes back to the scales and your pitches. He sure does. I think it comes back to that. And I think that's where some of your classical piano books for the scales done where the attorney is that the
Dr. Bob Lawrence 15:23
attorney hand and journey right.
Jamey Aebersold 15:25
I've noticed over the years, that young players that come to the camp with a classical piano background over from scales over their improvisations, and their solos seem to come together quicker, and they're easier to teach because they're fumbling over the fingering for various scales. They're not putting the thumb in the wrong spot. Or, you know, they don't know how to go under this out. And the other is towns fumbling. So I think their classical training for scales is very, very important. What was the rest of that question?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 15:56
Well just practice improvisation, yes. Practicing improvisation.
Jamey Aebersold 15:59
Okay, so I think you come back to this thing, Bob, and that is, Do I really have it? My soloing does not sound very good. My practice sessions are not very good. I just wonder if I already give up. You know, the ego comes in and puts fear into F E A, R, false evidence assumed real F E. A R very good, very evidence as soon as real I can't do this. So I think most of us have a continuous battle until we get over the hump with your ego. And he would like you to go get a pizza. Yeah, put on call your friend. Right? Do this. Do that. Don't practice, right. Don't prize. All right. But I think if you can get past that hump, and at the same time, realize that everybody well, like I say, anyone can improvise, and they can't. And it's like my friend from Louisville, who wrote me years ago, said Jamie, I don't agree with that saying, dada, dada dada dada. I waited a week back and I said, I think you're thinking that I'm thinking everybody's gonna sound like a great jazzer. That's not what I'm, what I'm thinking is, if this kid can place eight bars and keep his place and play melodies that come from his head, and the right hand on the keyboard at a slow tempo was my volume one play-along track, and what he plays is original and new on Jamie have never heard it before. And it sounds like melodies, right? Anyone can improvise.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 17:30
Yeah, that's right. You're right. Yeah. Yeah, you're right. I, you know, are you familiar with? There's a music Hang on, let me grab this book. There's a music philosopher. When I was at North Texas, I was turned on to this guy. It's called Music keen, by Chris foot by Christopher Small, and you notice how he spell music, right with that K, throughout. His whole thing is, is that we got to stop treating music like a noun, and start treating it like a verb. It's what people do. And that it's, it's really a birthright. It's like a birthright of speech. It's a birthright to be able to express ourselves musically. And there are cultures, different cultures around the world where everybody, it's just everyone expresses themselves musically. It doesn't mean, just like in our culture, you know, not all of us are gifted with words. So all of us are not going to all of us that are not going to be great speakers. All of us are not going to be great writers. But we never say to any child here, don't speak. Now. Write don't write. Express yourself. Express yourself. Right. So in music, what you're saying. I concur with 100% it's your right to improvise. It's your right to express yourself with this art form. Do that. Is that mean? It doesn't mean you're going to sound like Oscar Peterson in fact, I had a teacher one time say to me, Jamie, he said, Bob, because I didn't. I said I wasn't really excited about transcribing Oscar Peterson and I, and I used it I used I said to him, I said I don't really want to sound like Oscar Peterson. And he said to me, he said Bob, he said, You will never sound like Oscar. Right? And my heart filled in my feet. But then you know what he said, Jamie? I love this. He looked at me and he said and Bob. Oscar Peterson will never sound like you. Oh, that's good. Is that good? Right? So he was trying to say you become you play your find you and play you and what you're saying what everyone can improvise. You're encouraging everybody to find yourself in this music. Sure. Everybody's going to be John Coltrane.
Jamey Aebersold 19:48
You know you mentioned Oscar Peterson. I have so many memories. I'm 82 and I'm on my way to 83 I'm at Indiana University. I've gotten a little Webcore set up on the chair record player. The big goal pianos over here. And I got my saxophone out. And I'm listening to Oscar Peterson at the concert bow or something, the windmill on the cover the jacket, and he's playing, I put the record on, I'm just listening to music. And all of a sudden I raise a needle up and I say, was at a scale he just played. Now I'm in college. And I'd love to know which year this was 1920. So I'll go over to the piano and play just a little bit of what he played. And I say, oh, my gosh, he's playing scales, just just like I've been playing for 18 years. But wow, how fast does he do that? You know, and then moving years, on, month ago, I'm up to Bloomington, doing this jam session with 21 people in this room. And it's not a good situation for a jam session, because each person is going to take one chorus of blue balls, or one course, which was a little clarinet player, he looks like he's about 10 years old, he came a little late, he set up over by the piano. He's got his piece of music, which I've given him, and we're doing blue ball. So he plays a course and I walk over to him because he'd lost. I take my finger point to the page, and I put him back on track. And I said, Now, let's take another course. Now just play the routes. And he goes, Do dude, I'm moving my finger, doo doo, doo, he goes through a course. And I see. Okay, take another course, play the first three notes of the scale nickels, one, two, doo doo dee, da, da, da, da, da, da. He goes all the way through 20 people clap. Now, and I thought about that, on the way home, I got down a mountain to drive on. I'm gonna stop it the Golden Corral and get going, I'm thinking, why did they clap? That's so nice. Give encouragement to the kid. I'll tell you why I think they clap. Because they could hear the harmony to the tune. And all the boy was doing was playing the root. And then the 123 you want to hear the tune? You want to hear the harmony to the tune being played? And you're threatened to do it. But the fingers can't find it unless they're equipped with their scales, the proper scales and proper cards.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 22:29
Yeah, and you know, you don't have to, with students what you're talking about there, you know, you don't have to be fancy. You could play you could play great music and sound fantastic and play very little. Yeah, right. Jerry, there's this myth that we have to fill up, we have to fill up the room with all kinds of notes. You know, that's
Jamey Aebersold 22:51
the I think that's the ego talking to us. Because we feel like every time we played we're being compared to even nobody in the room. God is listening to you. And judging, you know, your soul, right? Is it just your practice habits, you're gonna judge your sound, your articulation, your all of this stuff? But that's not the case. It's it's an eternal fight. I think with the ego, to get to the point where you feel good about yourself and what you're playing and this is you. And you will never sound like Oscar Peterson. Right. And
Dr. Bob Lawrence 23:24
you know what? Yeah, one of my favorite Bill Evans quotes, Bill Evans said, you know, it's it's ironic that me that being a professional performer, he said, I'd much rather perform, I'd much rather play with audit without an audience. And when you hear that, quote, initially think, well, that's odd. But when you really think about it, what he's saying is that he can put all that aside, he can put all that he could put all that ego aside, he could put all that stuff aside and sit in his living room and play and, and be him. Yeah, and be truly 100% him. And I thought, man, what I wouldn't give to be a fly on the wall. Yeah, he's sitting at home in his living room by himself playing right. Right. Holy cow, right. So okay, Jamie, what about and this is I got to be honest with you, your play alongs helped a ton with this. Time development. How should students practice time? We don't talk about that enough, right? The practicing of time. Now we're always talking about practicing scales, arpeggios, chords, voicings, but what about time? How would you encourage students to approach practicing time because quite honestly, what we're just talking about, you can play very little, but if you're playing in time with a good radio and a good groove, you're sounding fantastic.
Jamey Aebersold 24:44
Oh, yeah. Yeah, you can take two or three notes and you can make those notes swing. And there's several things here ah, practice with a metronome. Number one, practice with the metronome on two and four, one
Unknown Speaker 25:00
doo, doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo boredom but they really really know.
Jamey Aebersold 25:14
They pursue the totally the odd. There was a chorus of Blues, right, which started tapping. I was playing with somebody recently. And they didn't play the it was instrumentals, and they didn't play in time. We had a good rhythm section, but they played played across the time. And I thought that was very interesting. And then when I played, I noticed on the corner of my eyes that this person's foot would start tapping when I was playing, because I play time. Correct. Which made me think about, do people play time? Oh, yeah, they play time. Now. So I think practicing with a metronome number one, and number two, for beginners just playing with my play long records, most of them keep pretty good time. And some ones that would use to rush I've had them straightened out electronically now. Okay. There's a certain rhythm sections that we receive, we get excited. They get excited. And that's a normal thing. Yes, it is. And I think most of us agree that rushing a little bit, hopefully not a whole lot. It gets excited gives excitement to the piece that you're playing, but, but if you slow down, it's like somebody's pushing you into a grave. And you don't you know, like dying. When you're slowing down is worse. We played it here two days ago. In three four, blue Daniel lewdly. Up boom, lead up Budo beat up bottom boarded by time the piano the bass drums and myself at solo bootlid up Bula melody on the way.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 26:50
But that's all
Jamey Aebersold 26:53
we all agreed to rush. But I don't think anybody could pinpoint when it took off. Because agile so that's where you're known. I think the play alongs become helpful because they keep the tempo the same. Right? So I think practice in time, but you also want to think if you're if you're a wind player, trumpet, clarinet, sax, didn't you have to get your articulation together and inside my jazz handbook? Yep. Our two pages of how to practice scales in cards using articulation that Sonny Rollins practice, and he showed Freddie Hubbard, Freddie Hubbard showed my good friend in college, Nick Washburn, Dick Marshall showed me and I worked for about a month on in college, and it was one of the hardest things I ever did. You just and you can do this with your piano too. Of course with the fingers. You're going to play just some major scale up to the nines and back down. budaj. Udo doo doo doo da. Yeah, I'm accepting one. Now you're gonna accent to blue dog doo doo doo doo doo doo.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 27:58
Jamey Aebersold 28:00
I think to do that right now for a month and I've got to where I can play my saxophone deal with doo doo, doo doo bee doo dee, doo dee, doo da doo doo doo doo. Doo Liddy, Tao bow. Those humps in articulation are what we need. All right, and that comes from up here. But it comes from practicing. And on the piano, you need to practice it.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 28:25
Oh, that's right. You have to be able to track time you have to be able to track time. And you know, I had a piano teacher. And you know, again, when I was young, I thought he was a nut too. You know, all these all these piano teachers. I thought were nuts until I got older. And I realized how brilliant they are. They were but he used to sit there. Jamie, he used to sit there and he established a pulse time. And then he would sit there and comp. And he's hearing like bass and drums in his head. He's just copy. And, and you could hear you could feel even as a 14 year old, I could feel the time. I could feel the time in his coffee. And, and he would do that for like five minutes. And I'm just sitting there kind of listening. And and then he finally look up and smile. And he looked at me and he goes, I could do this all day. And
Jamey Aebersold 29:18
you had some great teachers.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 29:19
Oh, well, thank you. I absolutely did. And I remember thinking man, he can do that all day. There's no melody. There's no There's you know, he's just copying. He's just copying he's he's playing with you know, I look back on that he was practicing. He was playing time and time. As you know, Jamey time feels really good.
Jamey Aebersold 29:40
Oh, you remind me of a story. A month ago. I put my earphones on the kitchen table. My wife had gone to bed. I'm gonna listen to this interview with Jimmy Heath. No, no, no. James Moody. Ron Carter. And they're talking about kinda blew them out. Davis, right? Oh, yeah. So so it's one hour and I never do this. I put the headphones on the jet to table, turn the TV off. And I'll listen role thing was very interesting. And on the way out it's going
Unknown Speaker 30:11
Jamey Aebersold 30:18
a couple the bump, you know they're playing the so what? Yeah, exactly. They're playing that. So here's, here's what I'm planning for but I'd never done this before. But as that background was gone, I'm singing at the table to myself. I'm not saying I'm thinking, okay. And then I went on for a minute, and it kind of fades out. And then it stopped. And the show stopped. So the screen goes black, but I'm still hearing the rhythm section. And I'm still improvising. And then I start thinking the fingerings on my saxophone. This went on for about five minutes, Bob, I've never ever done this before. Wow, when I finished, I said, the best solo I ever played. I'd like to just keep doing that just mentally sync. Oh, it just and it felt we're talking about time. It felt so good. And it gives me a chip on the back of my head just telling you this short story. Because I'd like to be there all the time. Forget the saxophone and forget to piano. Just give me that little doodle time thing in the back down on that one. Oh, and another thing? I never moved up to E flat, man. Oh, you never did? No, I was just And of course, I've never ever done that. That tune has two scales. Oh, my cry just D minor. And I went out across this musical desert. And it was getting close to midnight, probably. And that was the best I felt musically. And I had no instrument. I was just thinking. And all the trick was one little scale. Yeah. Is it? Right? Yeah. endless ideas. Simple. The largest. No, no fast stuff that I often need. Like, just simple stuff. Right? So Oh, it's so great.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 32:04
It's It's It's fantastic. Right? What you and what you were doing there not only time but like I tell students, you were, you know, I tell students all the time to isolate sound right. So isolate, isolate a D minor sound, isolate it a half the mini sound, whatever, right? Isolate that sound. And then I tell students bathe, bathe in that sound. bathe in it, right. That's what you know, if you bathe in that sound and in time, could you could do that all day and all? Could you not?
Jamey Aebersold 32:36
When I'm finished that little mental session that night, I said, Man, I'd love to pray for the reserve section. But then I immediately thought I don't think I could get a piano player to just play simply, I'm not getting away. And I the bass player is not going to pay those kind of lines that I was imagining. And the drummer would maybe be too busy. So I'm not going to do that. I think I'll just keep this in my mind. I'll save it and tell Bob today about Emory. I haven't thought about it since soon.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 33:07
Oh, man. That's awesome. Jamie, that's awesome. So um, okay, I want to kind of change our path here for a second because I know something that in fact, DAN HURLEY brought it up to me when I was talking to him. And I want to I want you to talk about it. Cuz I know it's a passion. You're very passionate about this. And I want you just to share some thoughts about smoking. And, and, and you're so you're you've been very educational about smoking. And where does this come from? How did this come about? Yeah, I want you to talk. I want you to talk about this. Yeah. Wow, that's amazing. So where did where did this passion for educating people about the harms of harmful harmfulness of smoking talk. Talk to us about that for a second. About
Jamey Aebersold 34:07
25 or 678 years ago, a fella from the local Cancer Society. I guess he knew I didn't like smoking. I'm not sure how this maybe I stopped in you get some literature. That's what it was. And then he called me said, Jamey, could you go talk to the fifth grade class in New Albany on Mount Tabor school? about smoking? I said, Well, I've never done that before. And then I went back and got some literature. And I went and talked to him. I still remember the day. And I'm not sure what prompts I had at that point. May I probably took my saxophone. I said I'll take my saxophone and play. And but the next thing you know, I said let's do this on a bigger scale. Let's do it for the whole school in the gym or in the auditorium because I hate smoking. Oh, and that. Sure. The 90s That's when smoking and Bill Clinton are fighting one another, you couldn't get a USA Today newspaper with the back page with it had the 50 states and I had to a sentence or a little short paragraph about every state. There will always be one state that had something about smoking, abandoned smoking in Aberdeen, North Carolina. You know what this Senator McCain was very big. And then the Monica Lewinsky came along with Bill Clinton, the smoking thing disappeared went completely off the scene. And I read that North Carolina legislators had met in Washington, and they tobacco people, and they met and they said to the legislators, you need to get Bill Clinton all for tobacco back. Because we keep tobacco dawn. Next thing you know, Monica Lewinsky was on the front page of everything. And that went on for a while. But during that time, 1998 Congress and the tobacco companies came up with this tobacco settlement. And they're going to give the states lots and lots of money every year, which they've been doing. And the tobacco companies that point immediately change their focus. They had to make sure that when this money came into the millions of dollars every year to every state, they had to make sure that that money went to fix roadways, sidewalks, sewers, don't you dare do anything to stop people from smoking, or we're gonna lose our income. So that was one area where I got my piano bass and drums together. I got smoking literature together, I got an overhead projector. I made a ton of transparencies, I borrowed good lungs and bad lungs from the University of Louisville School of Medicine, I still have them. And we went out. And we played jazz, and we promoted freedom and music. And then we said, this is how you can lock yourself up a smoker, you know, right back to big cigarette, we passed out the Quit easy smoking books, which I still have and still give out. Next thing you know, kids in this area weren't smoking as much. I still have people coming up to me. And they're like in your 20s now Oh, your Mr. April. So yeah. I said What school did the road school were you in? When we came and did our program? He said, Oh, I was out in Fairmont. General. They remembered. I said what? And he said, Well, you played Oh, you had yesterday and she played instruments. And you had those lungs? I said, right. I said they all No, I'm not gonna smoke. So anyhow, I've been fighting big tobacco with billboards or 1965 for 10 or 12 years, which costs 1000s of dollars. I print these books, I paid the guys to go out and play the school programs, and we introduced them to what tobacco can do to you. You know, as a matter of fact, I'm talking to the central Christian, central Christian churches in New Albany men's class Tuesday night. And I'm talking to him about smoking. Yeah, they want to know
Dr. Bob Lawrence 37:56
it's fascinating that you're, you're behind this so passionately, because in jazz in our in our profession, right, smoking is like, I mean, it's like you can't even go to a jam session without people lighting up cigarettes in the dry it drives me nuts.
Jamey Aebersold 38:11
I hope that's not the situation now.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 38:16
No, it's not. It's it used to be it very, it's very different now. Oh, we grew up on it. And that's what it was just like, No, it was just commonplace. I mean, it was just like, Norm Did you?
Jamey Aebersold 38:28
Did you ever hang your suit coat or your tie up on outside the house? When you come home at night? Or in the garage? You
Dr. Bob Lawrence 38:35
couldn't go do a gig It was It smelled so bad. The clothes you couldn't you couldn't take them in the house. It was smell bad.
Jamey Aebersold 38:42
You come home and you're lay down in the bed and your wife says your hair stinks. Us? Yeah. Yeah, we stink. Right? Yeah. So well. Anyhow, that's and once I realized how much profit the tobacco companies were making off of dead people and their product, then I decided to find them. Yeah. Just this is I stopped people on the street. I was at Walmart yesterday or two days ago. There's a lady there getting into car with her groceries. I'm right next to him. And I opened my door and I got my cart. I said, I've been looking all over for you. I pointed the lady she turned. I said I've been looking all over you and I put your groceries and I said I just said that to get your attention. And I reached in and hang on.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 39:27
Jamie, she had to think you're you're you're you're crazy. Oh
Jamey Aebersold 39:37
and I gave her a book. I said here. I've been looking all over for you. Yeah, good. Oh, oh, thank you. I played the job two weeks ago. It's a white court dinner for the hospital. Everybody's got suit and tie on. It's a big deal. Okay, we finish our part and we go outside. I load my car up and over here 40 feet away as a guy smoking cigarettes this time. Don't go around. Hey, roll the window. Hey, come here. He comes around. So I've been looking all over for you. And I hand in the book, I go like that. He says, Oh, thank you. It was like a dying man. A drink of water. He says, Oh, thank you.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 40:20
Oh, thank you. That's awesome.
Jamey Aebersold 40:24
I was there. I drive away. And I say, that might be the one that helps him to quit. And if he quits, it'll add years to his life. When I was a kid. I wanted to be a minister, a minister, Methodist Church minister, and I can remember going into church down the steps to the basement one day and there was Reverend Keith, I walked up to him and I said, Reverend Keith, I, I'm not gonna be a preacher. Now, don't ask me why I decided not to be a preacher. But I've been preaching
Dr. Bob Lawrence 40:51
that you're preaching. You're preaching. Yeah, right. Yeah. Which creates a jazz. I love it
Jamey Aebersold 40:59
too much. Yeah. I want people stay on the planet for a long time. But as I've gotten older, you got to be in good health, or you're not going to enjoy playing the piano. That's right. That's exactly. You got to be in good health. You got to be in good health. So that's the first thing you got to do is take care of that. Absolutely.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 41:17
Okay. I got another question for you. All right. Is it true? Is it true that you have an a street named after you there in Indiana?
Jamey Aebersold 41:26
Well, yes, but I didn't name it. My dad did. Where I live right now I'm in the basement of my house we've built on this house one to two or three times so it's just a ranch house from the front. But once you get in it's amazed down here. I've worked out of here since 1967. One of my first play long record came out and when we moved into this house,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 41:47
is that is that what it was that were they were recorded? Jamie right there in the house.
Jamey Aebersold 41:52
Yes, not in this room? Well, yes. Yeah, piano was writing back to me here we are in the bass player was in the next room, shut that door on the drummer was a next room we use headphones, I said over here at the desk and say, don't rush. Don't rush. Oh, this property here and I don't know how many acres is is I'll say it's 20 acres, maybe 25 acres down through here used to belong to my father had a short section over there with his florist and a house. But all around him like a horseshoe was this farm that his relatives owned a two guys they were bachelor's. And when they died, he bought all this property. When you buy the property he put two streets in one of them was able to report just a short block. And the other one was kind of a L shaped Street. And he gave each of us three boys two lots. And my my wife to be chose these two lots down here. My other two brothers chose him up the street and back in the Florence. And it became he sold one big lot to a church here and start another church a lot at the end of the property. So we've got two churches here. And two Aebersold streets here. So court Haven so dry. I think that's
Dr. Bob Lawrence 43:08
awesome, man. I think that's fantastic. Sometimes
Jamey Aebersold 43:11
it hadn't happened in a while. But sometimes when I'm out doing a clinic overnight, someone will say, Oh, Mr. Aber, so I noticed you live. You live on your street? Yes, I do. Know I called my wife last night. And she told me somebody broke the lock on the street again. Oh, those so there's a lock on the street. Yeah. So I have not moved very far from home. Although I've been around the world a lot. Right. Right. I like it right here, Bob.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 43:40
I don't blame you. So now I also understand and this only makes sense because you're there in Indiana for heaven's sakes, but I also understand your big basketball a big basketball nut. Which would make sense right. Here we go. Let's bring out the glory days. What's what's to say? Oh, yeah, Jamie aber saw world records most consecutive free throws and most consecutive three point shots by a jazz.
Hey, what's that number? I'm gonna see if I can break. Well, I want to see if I can break your record. What's the number most consecutive
Jamey Aebersold 44:19
shots? Free Throws is 53. You made 53
Dr. Bob Lawrence 44:23
in a row. Okay, I'm gonna go out. I'm gonna go out my backyard later today. I'm gonna start practicing. Do you have to live in Indiana to beat that record? I guess you
Jamey Aebersold 44:32
know, oh, no, no, you don't have to. Okay, but I shot a lot of basketball and my record for three pointers is 26. But that's good. One time I hit. I don't know. There's a double rim down at a elementary school. You know, double rim. Oh, yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah. It might as well have a sign on it saying don't bother shooting here because I'm every shot. I just got a brand new basketball I went to stop by was a summer day, and I started shooting one, two, I'm shooting threes. And if the ball went over there, I would shoot from there. So I'm shooting all around 2021 2223 24. And about that point, I said, I think I want to break my record of 26. But I missed. I think I missed 25 Or I missed 28 I went on up into 30s. But whatever I did, there was like, 91% but it just, it just felt so good, you know, but I've ruined my my right shoulder from shooting too many three point hook shots. So I can't I can't shoot the ball. Not at all. So I haven't shot in about five years.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 45:38
Yeah. Wow. So is your favorite movie Hoosiers?
Jamey Aebersold 45:42
Oh, yes. You know, they have a remake with all the parts that were cut out. Oh, do they really? Yeah, it's been a year or so ago. I would love to see. The thing I read said, Have you ever watched losers and maybe thought at certain points? Oh, that was the sort of trains you know, we went from this to this. They put in the parts that were cut out?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 46:03
Oh, I'd love to. I'd love to see that too. That's great.
Jamey Aebersold 46:07
They had a grand spring in Indianapolis. And I was busy. But I really wanted to go up. And I wanted to see the whole thing the way he was put together because I think it would make more sense. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I've been by that school.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 46:19
Have you really? Miles? Is it still an active school? Oh, yeah. Wow.
Jamey Aebersold 46:24
Yeah, it's a small school. But I took a picture of the school and I got the picture on my wall somewhere.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 46:29
Wow. That's fantastic. Okay, I got another question for you too. Is it true that that famous voice at the beginning of all those play long tracks the One Two a 1234? Is that you? Oh, yeah. That's cool. Yeah. It's awesome.
Jamey Aebersold 46:49
You know, the views that I've got somewhere here, I can send or a CD that someone sent me it was a group in Europe
Unknown Speaker 47:00
Jamey Aebersold 47:06
They took my account off and often just insert
jokes out of that when I when I got my any Endowment for the Arts Award in 2014. And I'm writing and emailing the lady as she gets the whole thing together the video together and they're gonna play in New York when I'm there with all the other people. I said, Now you gotta have my count off. She didn't know I don't think what the count off was. I says, You've got to start my video with count off because people recognize my voice just by me saying 121234 So when I got to New York, I'd forgotten about my family's there reset, and they got the big screen we're in. What's it called? Lincoln Center went Marcellus is there and Sarah and so forth. And they're starting to play my portion. And I said to myself, ah, ah, hopefully start with account off. And they do. Screen to silent, you know, and it goes, one, two, a 1234. I said, Great. You did? You know, I've had people I've had people that I've never met come up to me, they'll hear me in conversation. And say, Are you Jamey Aebersold? So, and I'll say, yeah. And they'll say I thought so. And they have a play of on record. And they recognize my voice off of the couch. That's pretty distinctive in
Dr. Bob Lawrence 48:32
it sure is, you know, something I want to mention real quick, you know, I held up this album, right, your 251. But I'm going to tell you a funny story about this. You'll get a kick out of it. One of my students who who has studied jazz piano with me now for quite a long time. Her her husband, her name is Linda and her husband, new husband, here is Charlie. They literally put your 251 collection on their album when they want they crack open a bottle of wine, and they want a romance. They want a romantic evening they put 251 on by Jamie Aebersold
Jamey Aebersold 49:07
Oh, that's great. Oh, isn't that funny? Yeah, but you know, friend of mine, what's his name? He lives in LA. He's a trumpet player. He was in a hotel in California LA. He's going up the elevator and they're playing the 251 progression. He stays on the elevator to see if it didn't in the track. This was back for LPS. And sure enough, the next track starts with my account off. He goes to his room. He calls down to the counter and once just inquiring about the music, wants to know where they got done what that was. And they didn't say anything. He gets back on the elevator and they've taken them off. But I thought I was doing another one. So think of the 251 A guy was traveling across Texas. He's got the radio on and the guy the The disc jockey is playing the OPI volume three. And when it gets to as that was Jamey Aebersold treatable there's something about the repetitiveness of the things I guess that
Dr. Bob Lawrence 50:17
you had that you had no idea that a couple in Texas would be using your 251 album as a romantic a romantic evening at home with a glass of wine and oh my gosh, that's great. So funny. So alright, Jamie, this has been so much fun. Before we before we wrap it up for today. Final words of encouragement pearls of wisdom from Jamey Aebersold to all the jazz piano skills, listeners, the microphone is yours.
Jamey Aebersold 50:44
Watch what you eat, watch what you drink. Watch what you think use mental hygiene. Think about what you're going to think you're okay, you can do it. Anyone can improvise scales and cards, bits and pieces of scales and cards is what's inside your mind. You got to get it out your fingers. If you're a piano player. Listen, listen. Listen, listen, listen. Stay connected to Bob. He's a good man.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 51:10
Thanks, Jamey. Thank you, Jamey. Oh, thank you. I can't I can't even begin to express how grateful I am that you've come on jazz panels, because I'd love to have you back on in the in the future. You know, you'd like I said, you have been a blessing for 1000s and 1000s of jazz musicians around the world. You certainly have been have had a profound impact on my life. And like I said, I've known you for many, many years, even though this is the first time we've officially met. So I want to honor for myself and on behalf of all the 1000s of jazz musicians who are now playing and enjoying this art form because of you. I want to extend a very heartfelt thank you.
Jamey Aebersold 51:50
You're welcome and tell them if they want that jazz handbook. Just go to jazz books.com
Dr. Bob Lawrence 51:55
Wonderful. Yeah. And it's it's jazz books.com It's, it's a wealth of jazz materials and information. So check out Jamie's website, get his play alongs. And feel free to reach out to him. Yeah. And he'll and he'll get back to you. I know. That's Jamie. So, Jamie, thank you again.
Jamey Aebersold 52:14
You're welcome, Bob. I've really enjoyed it.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 52:16
That was simply too much fun. I never thought as a young boy growing up in the 70s. And learning how to play jazz using Jamey Aebersold materials that one day, the two of us would be spending time together discussing jazz education on a thing called a podcast. Wow, what an honor. It has been to spend time with Jamie and I hope you have found this two-part interview to be insightful, motivating, and of course beneficial as well. One of my mentors and teachers, our friends, used to say to me after every lesson, never forget to greatest thing about music is the people you meet through it and the privilege of meeting and spending time with one of my jazz heroes. Jamey Aebersold simply confirms our sentiment 100% Now don't forget if you're a jazz panel skills member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz piano skills masterclass. That's 8 pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode this entire two-part series featuring Jamey Aebersold saw in greater detail and of course to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general. And as always, you can reach me by phone through the Dallas School of Music at 972-380-8050 by email Dr. Lawrence, Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com, or by SpeakPipe, which is a handy nifty little widget found throughout the jazz piano skills website. Well, there is my cue. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the journey. Enjoy the amazing pearls of wisdom shared by Jamey Aebersold. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano
Saxophonist, Entrepeneur, Author, Educator, Jazz Legend
Welcome to JazzPianoSkills, I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It’s time to Discover, Learn, and Play jazz piano! Today, you are in for a real treat! I am joined by saxophonist, entrepreneur, author, educator, and jazz legend Jamey Aebersold.
Wilton Jameson "Jamey" Aebersold (born July 21, 1939) is an American publisher, educator, and jazz saxophonist. His Play-A-Long series of instructional books and CDs, using the chord-scale system, the first of which was released in 1967, is an internationally renowned resource for jazz education. His summer workshops have educated students of all ages since the 1960s.
Jamey Aebersold was born in New Albany, Indiana. When he was fifteen, he played with local bands, then attended Indiana University in Bloomington while leading bands in southern Indiana and Kentucky. During the late 1960s, he taught at Indiana University Southeast and in the 1970s and 1990s at the University of Louisville. He began weeklong summer workshops for students, which have spread throughout the world into countries such as Canada, England, Scotland, Germany, Denmark, New Zealand, and Australia. Aebersold plays saxophone, piano, banjo, and double bass.
Most of the volumes in Aebersold's Play-A-Long series feature a selection of ten to twelve 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 (treble and bass clef), as well as transpositions for B-flat and E-flat instruments. The recordings feature a professional rhythm section (typically piano, bass, and drums, occasionally including guitar) performing an improvised accompaniment (comping) to each song. Melody instruments like saxophone and trumpet are omitted, enabling a jazz student to practice the song's melody and improvise over the chord changes with accompaniment. Piano and bass tracks are 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 voice, which counts off the tempo for each track on most Aebersold recordings.
Thibeault (2022) documents the development of Aebersold's materials, from his first volume in 1967 and continued development over 50 years, more than 130 volumes, and with sales of over 5 million copies, concluding that Aebersold's materials helped to develop the first widespread shared idea of what a beginning jazz improvisor should be.
For over 50 years, Aebersold has also run summer jazz workshops, historically throughout the US and internationally, and in recent years at the University of Louisville. The week-long event is billed as a place to learn jazz through hands-on experience through an intensive learning environment for musicians of varying ages and levels. The standard curriculum includes master classes, ear-training sessions, jazz theory classes from beginning to advanced, and concerts by faculty.
Aebersold 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.
Now, it's time to discover, learn, and play with jazz legend Jamey Aebersold.
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