Dr. Gene Aitken, Grammy Award Winner and Fulbright Scholar, is considered one of the most exciting and energetic jazz educators and clinicians in the world. He is recognized as a visionary in both jazz education and computer technology.
His activities as a conductor, performer, composer, adventurer, clinician, adjudicator, and producer of educational events have led him to all corners of the globe. As founder of Jazz Education Abroad (JEA), and iJazzMusic.com, both of which are United States 501c3 and European Union non-profit organizations, Dr. Gene has led JEA to share his knowledge of jazz music and education in South America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. In addition, JEA offers scholarships and musical instruments to organizations that support individuals with disabilities and to refugees in countries where jazz workshops are held. JEA has received funding from many organizations and embassies throughout the world, as well as from the United States Department of State and the European Union.
Since 2016, Dr. Gene continues to serve on the three-member peer-evaluation team for the US Department of State reviewing grant proposals submitted for funding under the United States Fulbright Specialist Program - Education.
Dr. Gene was nominated by the United States Department of State to serve as the Cultural Envoy to several countries, including Nepal in 2008 and Chile in 2013. Both appointments were made to help improve the countries relationships with the United States and to promote the values of jazz education and performance in American Jazz, the United States of America’s only indigenous musical art form.
On April 15, 2011, the United States Department of State, on behalf of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, announced Dr. Gene was the recipient of a Fulbright Specialist Award to assist in developing a Jazz Studies program and curriculum at Fu-Jen University in Taipei, Taiwan.
Dr. Gene was awarded DownBeat magazine's Jazz Educator of the Year in June 2007, and inducted into the DownBeat magazine's Hall of Fame. In addition, in 1995, he was the 32nd member inducted International Association of Jazz Educator's Hall of Fame along with Ella Fitzgerald and Doc Severinsen, joining luminaries such as Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Dr. Gene is only one of four individuals in the world inducted into the Hall of Fame of both organizations.
In June 1997, the National Education Association published a chapter in their book Technology and Higher Education, “Music Technology for the 21st Century" authored by Dr. Gene. The topic was a vision of the future of music education, including the development of advanced concepts in individual and group instruction, and the technological advancements that must occur to stay current in higher education.
The State of Colorado in 1992 awarded Dr. Gene the Colorado Artistic Award of Excellence, the highest honor given to any Colorado artist. It is the only time this honor has been presented to an individual in music.
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences awarded Dr. Gene and the University of Northern Colorado Vocal Jazz Ensemble the prestigious 1985 Grammy Award. It is the only Grammy Award ever presented to a vocal jazz ensemble in an institution of higher education in the United States. To date, Dr. Gene has produced more than 50 CDs from the University of Northern Colorado, Cooler by the Lake, the Taipei Jazz Orchestra, and other professional instrumental/vocal jazz ensembles.
Dr. Gene has authored more than 30 articles for national and international journals on jazz education and computer technology, including vocal jazz arrangements published by Kendor Music.