When the 2014 NEA Jazz Masters awards are presented tomorrow at Lincoln Center in New York, Aebersold will receive one for jazz advocacy. The National Endowment for the Arts says that the award goes to, “an individual who has contributed significantly to the appreciation, knowledge, and advancement of the art form of jazz.” Previous winners in the category have included critics and authors Nat Hentoff and Dan Morgenstern, personal manager (and bassist) John Levy, producer Orrin Keepnews, recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder and club owner Lorraine Gordon.
In addition to his play-along business, Aebersold has continued as a jazz educator, conducting summer workshop sessions at the University of Louisville. When he is teaching, he keeps his alto saxophone handy to illustrate points——and work in a little blowing time. The rhythm section is Steve Crews, piano; Tyrone Brown, bass; and Jonathon Higgins, drums.
Aebersold will collect his Jazz Masters Award tomorrow evening. If you are not on the guest list or can’t make it to New York, you can watch the ceremony streamed live on the internet at 7:30 p.m. on the arts.gov and Jazz at Lincoln Center websites.
When they practice with Aebersold albums, musicians the world over eagerly anticipate his tempo countoffs and sometimes imitate them on the job. If you’ve never heard one, you’re in for a treat as he sets the time for the accompaniment to “Ornithology.” The rhythm section is again Barron, Carter and Tate. Feel free to play, or scat, along.