Experimental and Jazz Composer / Jazz Guitarist
Jerry Tabor composes electroacoustic and experimental acoustic music, much of which is either within or extending the jazz idiom. Between 2013 and 2020, Tabor took the helm of the respected independent contemporary music label, Neuma Records. As an advocate of living composers and contemporary music, in general, he expanded Neuma to include a contemporary music publishing house. Through his role as executive producer, editor, and coordinator of Neuma projects, Tabor is a recognized editor of writings on music, as well as a format designer for musical scores and books.
Tabor is a professor of music at Salisbury University, where he has coordinated the theory and composition and jazz programs since 1997.
Perhaps one of the most enduring aspects of Tabor’s music is his use of open structures that highlight unique performer, instrumental, and computer system characteristics. He believes that by designing structures in which non-intention is unrelenting, the music reveals sound as an authentic extension of whoever is acting within the structure. Such structures often control every nuance of a composition, from the articulation of individual sounds to the unfolding of form through ensemble interaction. This approach has established new frameworks for improvisation that are not necessarily dependent upon jazz tradition or style and are, therefore, free of historical contexts.
Tabor’s music has been featured at the John Donald Robb International Composers Symposium (twice), the Radford International Guitar Festival, the Western Illinois University New Music Festival, the Holy Cross College New Music Festival (MA), and the Electroacoustic Music: The Continuing Tradition conference (MD). As a guest composer, Tabor’s music has been presented at George Mason University (VA), SUNY Buffalo, Catholic University of America (DC), and Hartwick College (NY), and more recently, Conservatorio Alfredo Casella in L’Aquila, Italy, among others. Tabor’s music has also been presented at such festivals as the International Computer Music Conference, the Percussive Arts Society International Conference, the American Society for Cybernetics Conference, the Electronic Music Midwest Festival, and Society of Composers conferences. Several of his compositions are recorded on the Neuma Records label.
Tabor’s research is focused in the areas of composition theory and composition pedagogy. His important book on a pioneering theorist and cognitive musicologist, entitled, Otto Laske: Navigating New Musical Horizons, is published by Greenwood Press (1999). In that book, Tabor introduces the concept of composition theory that Laske developed through an interdisciplinary understanding of musical process. He played an important role in the organization of a significant Mellen Press volume on the work of Thomas DeLio, Essays on the Music and Theoretical Writings of Thomas DeLio, Contemporary American Composer, for which he coauthored the introduction (2008). He also published several essays in the Computer Music Journal and wrote the Instructors Manual for the 2nd edition of the popular jazz text, Jazz: The First 100 Years. More recently, Tabor has been formulating new approaches to jazz composition and analysis of existing jazz music; several articles and presentations are on these subjects are forthcoming.
As a guitarist, Tabor studied classical with renowned classical and national finger-style champion, Michael Chapdelaine while at the University of New Mexico. He also studied jazz with the L.A. studio and jazz guitarist, Michael Anthony. Tabor has recently come out of a nearly 30-year hiatus from playing and is presently developing a performance schedule in which he presents his most recent works for solo guitar and guitar with ensembles.
Tabor holds Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) and Master of Music (MM) degrees in composition from the University of Maryland at College Park, where he studied with esteemed composer and theorist, Thomas DeLio. He earned a Bachelor of Music (BM) degree in theory and composition at the University of New Mexico under the guidance of Scott Wilkinson, William Wood, and Christopher Shultis. While at UNM, Tabor took master classes with such composers as Milton Babbitt and Michael Colgrass.
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