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Take Five With Jerry Tilitz

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Jerry Tilitz: Jerry Tilitz is an American trombonist, composer and vocalist from New York City presently ensconced in Hamburg, Germany. In the course of his career Mr. Tilitz has performed and recorded with many exceptional artists including Gerry Mulligan, Horace Parlan, Hank Jones, Roy Eldridge, Herb Geller, Tommy Flanagan, Warren Vache, Adam Nussbaum, Benny Bailey, Danny Moss, Harry Allen, Randy Sandke, Tom Harrell, Barry Harris, Bill Mays, Randy Brecker, Benny Golson and many others.

After studying with Jazz luminaries Lennie Tristano and the influencial trombonist Curtis Fuller, Mr. Tilitz began his professional career with Billy Taylor's Jazzmobile Big Band. In addition to becoming involved in New York City's vibrant club and studio scene Jerry taught jazz theory and analysis at Queensboro College and received a grant for composition and performance from the prestigious U.S. National Endowment for the Arts.

In addition to touring, recording, and teaching Mr.Tilitz has hosted his own radio program in Germany called "An American In Hamburg," played in the European musical production of Cats, Chorus Line, 42nd Street and Ain't Misbehavin' and written for publications including the well regarded Jazz Journal International. Jerry has produced several recordings on his own label Both Feet Records including "The Dance Of The Living Room Sofas" (BF 1002-2) featuring Don Braden, Lonnie Plaxico, Cecil Brooks III and Michael Cochrane and "Jerry Tilitz/The New York Tapes" (BF 1001-2), a compilation of Jerry's New York bands which include high profile artists Tom Harrell, Arnie Lawrence, Jim McNeely, Bob Moses, Harold Danko, Bob Kindred, Jerome Harris, Jon Burr, Jeff Brillinger, Gary Smulyan, Valery Ponomarev and Billy Hart. Also available is a CD production for the Bellaphon, Germany L+R label Tales Of Two Cities (CDLR 45035) with appearances by Horace Parlan, Adam Nussbaum, Frank Wunsch, Ray Drummond, Bill Mays and Jimmi Roger Pedersen. Jerry's latest release is Ralph Reichert/Jerry Tilitz - Back To Back on the prestigious Nagel Heyer Records label.

The above recordings are available as CDs or digital downloads from CD Baby at


Trombone, vocal.

Teachers and/or influences?

Curtis Fuller, J.J. Johnson, Lennie Tristano, Charlie Parker, Slide Hampton etc etc.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I discovered Jazz as a kid.

Your sound and approach to music:

Sound, imagination, discipline and freedom.p>

Your teaching approach:

I prefer to teach rank beginners or experienced players.

Your dream band:

My dream band is one built on respect and experience.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

Playing in the zoo on a very hot day and having to wash the animal stench out of the horn.

Favorite venue:


Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

The New York Tapes. A snapshot of my years growing up in the city.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

Music Minus One featuring Hank Jones,Milt Hinton, Barry Galbraith and Osie Johnson.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

I try to be an example to the kids just starting their careers.

Did you know...

The Caribbean is my 2nd home.

CDs you are listening to now:

Charlie Parker, The Yardbird Sessions - (Universe 141/2)

Desert Island picks:

JJ and Stan Getz Live at the Opera House - (Verve)

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

In transition.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Keeping an eye on the tradition and roots of Jazz and remembering to respect the audience by entertaining them with your own story.

What is in the near future?


If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

A surf bum.


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