113th Army Band Hosts World-Renowned Jazz Educator

By SGT(P) Jonathan Hedrick
113th Army Band

News story photo
Photo credit: SGT(P) Jose Gonzalez
Tyrone Wheeler, SGT(P) Jonathan Hedrick, Jonathan Higgins, Jamey Abersold, Eleanor Aloisi and Steve Crews pose after the clinic.
“1… 2… 1, 2, 3, 4…”

Anyone who has tried their hand at jazz improvisation knows Jamey Aebersold’s voice. As early as the 1960’s, one could hear Mr. Aebersold counting off each track to his world famous Play-A-Long books, which now number over 130 volumes. On Wednesday, Mar 12, Mr. Aebersold made a special stop at Fort Knox, KY to share his knowledge and passion for jazz with soldiers from the 113th and 100th Army Bands as well as students from Ft. Knox High School.

Participants gathered in the Glenn Miller Performing Arts Center to hear Mr. Aebersold play and teach his philosophy of playing jazz. While he spent time discussing the history of jazz music and some of its greatest contributors, Mr. Aebersold was most interested in doing what he does best; encouraging musicians of all ages to try improvising. “Many Students think they don’t have what it takes to improvise… we’re here today to dispel that myth,” he declared.

A native of New Albany, Indiana, Jamey Aebersold has taught and performed in the Louisville area for over 50 years. An accomplished pianist, saxophonist, bassist and banjoist, Mr. Aebersold is a recipient of the 2014 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award, the nation's highest honor in jazz. Other members of the Jamey Aebersold Quartet were Steve Crews, piano; Tyrone Wheeler, bass; and Jonathan Higgins, drums. During the course of the clinic, the rhythm section played almost non-stop. As Mr. Aebersold related his knowledge of the history of jazz, they provided a simmering, swinging backdrop. Most impressively, the band would switch gears without hesitation when Aebersold cued them to play jazz standards or lay down harmonies as he played examples of practice techniques.

As a finale to the afternoon’s event, members of the 113th and 100th Army Bands joined Mr. Aebersold and his quartet. Once they warmed up with a rousing rendition of “Blue Monk,” the musicians were encouraged to improvise over a repeated groove that moved between only two chords. This particularly impressed Eleanor Aloisi, daughter of SFC Michael Aloisi and a trumpet player in the Ft. Knox High School Band. “It was cool to know that you could come together and play a whole song just from two scales.”

This was a fantastic afternoon for the young musicians from Ft. Knox High School as well as Soldiers of the 113th and 100th Army Bands. As for the lucky musicians who had the chance to play for Mr. Aebersold, they left with more than just great memories. In a signature gesture, similar to the Army Challenge coin, Jamey Aebersold presented each of them with a U.S. quarter featuring jazz legend Duke Ellington.

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