Paul Jeffrey, Saxophonist and Jazz Educator

To call Paul Jeffrey (April 8, 1933-March 20, 2015) a student of jazz is to not use a figure of speech. Jeffrey was literally a life-long student, both in the classroom and out. He had a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Ithaca College (1955). He held positions at numerous colleges and universities, including Columbia University, Jersey City State College, the University of Hartford and Rutgers University. Finally, he was artist in residence and director of jazz studies at Duke University, positions he held for 30 years until his retirement in 2003. You will find the Paul Jeffrey Papers (1969-2006) there.

But Jeffrey’s greatest lessons were likely learned on the road and in the studio with  jazz legends including Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie, the Count Basie Orchestra, Clark Terry and perhaps most notably, Thelonious Monk, with whom he toured until Monk stopped performing in the late 1970s.

He mingled, played and lived with the best. Here’s Jeffrey talking about fellow saxophonist and friend Sonny Rollins:

Jeffrey had a recording career all his own, beginning with 1969’s “Electrifying Sounds.” He recorded several albums as the Paul Jeffrey Quartet, Sextet, Group, and appeared on albums with Sam Rivers (See if you can pick him out of the mix on “Exultation” on the Rivers “Crystals” album), Fulvio Albana 5et and the Torino Jazz Orchestra.


Guide to the Paul Jeffrey Papers at Duke University

Duke Today obituary

New York Times obituary