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Gary MotleyProfessor of PracticeDirector of Jazz Studies


  • MMGeorgia State University2004


Gary Motley is a jazz pianist, teacher, composer, arranger, and author who has been a prominent figure in the jazz scene of the southeastern United States since he started his solo career in 1994. He is renowned for his exceptional skills as a pianist and composer across various genres, such as straight-ahead jazz and chamber music. His talent has been recognized by multiple organizations like the American Composers Forum, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Great American Jazz Piano Competition. In 2015,  he was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. 

Throughout his career, Gary has collaborated with many leading jazz artists and released over 30 albums. His latest album, Spectrum (2024), features Edwin Livingston (bass) and Clarence Penn (drums. He has appeared as a guest on NPR’s Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland and performed with renowned musicians, including Dave Brubeck, Regina Carter, Mel Tormé, and Bob Mintzer. His compositions span multiple genres and have premiered at national and international festivals. 

Apart from his artistic work, Gary is committed to jazz education. He is a professor of practice and the founding Director of Jazz Studies at Emory University. Gary authored Harmonic Development and Contrapuntal Techniques for the Jazz Pianist (Taylor & Francis, 2024).

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