Jerry Tolson has been a member of the music faculty at the University of Louisville since 1993.  As professor of jazz studies and music education, he directs instrumental and vocal jazz ensembles and teaches jazz pedagogy, jazz style, jazz history, and African American Music classes.


A graduate of Drake University and the University of North Texas, Tolson is active as a clinician, adjudicator, guest conductor, and jazz camp instructor throughout the country.  He has been active as an organizer, administrator, and presenter of jazz through festivals and educational activities. Mr. Tolson has made 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, the Jazz Education Network Conference, the Southern Regional conference of MENC, and numerous state music conferences including Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and Arizona.  He has also presented workshops in Barbados, Brazil, and Trinidad as well as numerous universities around the country.


He co-founded the Kentuckiana Jazz Style Summer Workshop at Bellarmine University in Louisville.  He also co-founded and is the director of 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 the International Association for Jazz Education.  As a composer/arranger Tolson writes for both large and small instrumental ensembles as well as vocal jazz ensembles.  His vocal jazz works are published by UNC Jazz Press, and he is an author, clinician, and consultant for the Alfred Music Company. He is also a content consultant for Pearson/Prentice Hall Educational Publications.  In addition, 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).


As a performer on keyboards, woodwinds, and vocals, Tolson leads three of his own groups and has worked with such popular artists as the Temptations, Four Tops, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, and Manhattan Transfer, and with jazz artists Delfeayo Marsalis, Antonio Hart, Kevin Mahogany, Sunny Wilkinson, Pete Christlieb, Phil Wilson, James Moody, Benny Golson, Grace Kelley, and Marvin Stamm.  Tolson has released three CDs of original jazz selections, Nu View in 1999, Back at the Track in 2003 and JT and Friends - Fresh Squeezed in 2013.  His composition, "In the Company of Strangers", from Nu View was a runnerup in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. 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 group has appeared at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland as well as the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy and has also completed a performing tour in Barbados where among among other concerts, they performed for the Prime Minister.  They have also opened for jazz pianist, Eric Reed, jazz trombonist, Wycliffe Gordon, and jazz guitarist, Mark Whitfield.


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, and Tolson is a board member of the University of Louisville Athletic Association, the University Club of Louisville, and a former member of the IAJE executive board.  His other professional memberships include the American Federation of Musicians, ASCAP, College Music Society, National Band Association, Kentucky Association for Jazz Education, Jazz Education Network, and Music Educators National Conference. Tolson and his wife, Karen, reside in suburban Louisville.