Tom Wolfe

Tom Wolfe has been performing professionally for more than 30 years. He’s played in various bands including ‘garage bands’, school bands and church. At the age of 17, he began his professional career. “A flyer was posted in my high school’s choral rehearsal area announcing auditions at Kings Island, a Cincinnati-based theme park. I went to the audition without understanding the process. They took my photo and played my guitar. I didn’t know what I was doing. They initially turned me down. Later in spring, they cancelled and called me to offer me a job as the Bassist for their country review show. Wolfe was able to enter a new world through this opportunity. This experience taught Wolfe the importance of professionalism early in his career, but most importantly, it exposed him to the joy and wonder of creating music. “I knew that I wanted to become a musician at that time. Kings Island’s other members were also older than me, and many were college music majors at the time. I was able to benefit from their willingness to share the musical experience. says Wolfe. Wolfe was soon accepted into Capital University’s Jazz Studies Program. He studied with Tom Carroll and Stan Smith on the guitar. His teachers started to recommend him to other musicians as soon as he was accepted into the program. Within a short time, Wolfe was performing with many artists, including Bob Hope, Chita Rivera and Jerry Van Dyke. He also performed on tours such as Grease, Annie, and others. It wasn’t because I was the best player. I did have the ability sight read, which was a valuable skill that helped me land these jobs. Wolfe studied at the Eastman School of Music to complete his graduate studies. He had the chance to work alongside Gene Bertoncini, Bill Dobbins, and Rayburn Wright. Wolfe was challenged by his classmates’ intense love for music and their competitive drive, and quickly realized the potential to grow and learn in this program. “I am still shocked that I was even accepted into the program. I remember hearing my fellow students practicing and auditioning for bands when I first arrived. I knew I would have to put in a lot of work to keep up. My teachers and mentors were patient with me and helped me to get through. I will never forget the gift of music that they gave me. Wolfe studied composition and jazz arranging with Rayburn Wright and Bill Dobbins, and guitar with Gene Bertoncini while at Eastman. He was also able to work and perform with jazz legends like Manny Albam (Rufus Ried), Lew Soloff, John LaBarbera (etc.). These experiences set the stage for Wolfe’s future as an educator and performer. After completing his Eastman School of Music studies, Wolfe returned to Columbus, Ohio to teach part-time at Otterbein College, Kenyon College, and then moved to Lafayette, Louisiana, to join the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now known as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Wolfe says, “It was here that I first started to teach full-time and to gain an understanding of the academy.” I gained a lot of knowledge there, and I am grateful for the opportunity and the amazing students I had the privilege to work with. Wolfe was appointed director of the Jazz Studies Program at the University of Alabama School of Music in 1994. “At the time, there was no degree in jazz studies at the School of Music.” I set out to establish a jazz curriculum. from

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