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Leron Thomas: Zen-Mode Humor

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The chances of four people conducting a Google search on Leron Thomas that result in all four of them to make the same conclusion about the trumpeter is low. While certain facts--like his time at High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (PVA) in Houston and The New School in New York--will remain true, arguments might arise about the genre he plays and what his role as an artist is. A listen to “Silly Ass," the first track on his SoundCloud and his upcoming album Whatever (Self Produced, 2013), could leave a listener to conclude that he is a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ron Thomas: Two Lonely People

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A spin through pianist Ron Thomas's discography as a leader doesn't always directly point toward the music found on Two Lonely People. His two masterful trio outings, Music in Three Parts (Art of Life Records, 2006) and Doloroso (Art of Life Records, 2006) are both full of abstract and elastic originals; the highly electric and compellingly otherworldly Elysium (Vectordisc, 2009) stretches the boundaries way, way “out there"; and his 17 Solo Piano Improvisations (Vectordisc, 2006) leans heavily on the pianist's classical music roots.But it was his 1965 discovery of the music of Miles Davis and Bill Evans that ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bobby Rose / Ron Thomas: Galaxy

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On Galaxy a couple of mainstream jazz guys sit down and plug in to see where the interstellar winds will take them.The profiles of guitarist Bobby Rose and keyboardist Ron Thomas, subject to the laws of gravity, have not achieved the heights commensurate with their talent--an old jazz story. But both are immensely creative artists. The duo has recorded, separately, albums with guitarist Pat Martino: the mainstream Footprints (Muse records, 1972) and the early foray into what we now call World Music, Baiyina (Prestige Records, 1968), in the case of Rose, while Ron Thomas contributed his considerable piano ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ron Thomas / John Swana / Joe Mullen: Elysium

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The sound of Elysium is, in a word, otherworldly. Then throw in the electro-industrial tinge and cold liquid submersion resonance--like the noise of a high tech blacksmith shop on a distant planet with a dense atmosphere and heavier than Earth gravity like Neptune--music of an alien culture, or songs played for cryogenically suspended astronauts slumbering their way across vast expanses of space.Such are the sounds created by keyboardist Ron Thomas, trumpeter John Swana and drummer Joe Mullen.Thomas, in acoustic piano outings, is a man of a supple touch with self-proclaimed “deep technical and pragmatic musical ideas" ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ron Thomas / Paul Klinefelter: Blues for Zarathustra

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With Blues For Zarathustra, pianist Ron Thomas returns to an area of interest that has always been a part of his musical life, but which has not be emphasized or recorded recently. What he presents, with his long time playing partner, bassist Paul Klinefelter, is a straight-ahead set where simplicity, delicate intensity, constant interplay and a fertile imagination rule. Those who have followed Thomas' output, including his solo works, 17 Solo Improvisation (Vectordisc, 2006) and Wings of the Morning (Vectordisc, 2007), and trios Doloroso (Art of Life, 2006) and Music in Three Parts (Art of Life, 2006), ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ron Thomas: 17 Solo Piano Improvisations

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Music is the language of sound, of vibrations; and hence, at a basic level, of physics. The history of Western music is an effort to understand and control how these vibrations interact and relate to each other, always with an ear towards how they affect the listener. Music's emotional affect on us is its greatest mystery. Pianist Ron Thomas' 17 Solo Piano Improvisations is an exploration of certain features of the music of Franz Liszt, as they connect to the work of Debussy, Bartok, Schoenberg, Ligeti and Stockhausen. The connection to jazz comes from the fact that ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ron Thomas: Wings of the Morning

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Pianist Ron Thomas has led an extremely interesting life, musically and otherwise, and it is distilled into the lovely and intense set of pieces on Wings of the Morning, originally recorded in 1978, and now reissued on CD. Training from a young age to be a concert pianist, Thomas eventually realized that the rigors and mindset necessary for that kind of musical life were not his forte, and he turned to composition, studying with many famous people in the classical world including Karlheinz Stockhausen and Stefan Wolpe. Introduced to jazz in his mid-twenties, he was bowled over ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ron Thomas/John Swana/Joe Mullen: Cycles

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Many jazz pianists have a grounding in the classical side of music. Ron Thomas's anchoring may be deeper there than most. His back-to-back piano trio outings, Doloroso (Art of Life Records, 2006) and Music in Three Parts (Art of Life Records, 2006), explored some very alluring, loose sound shapes shaded by his classical side in a quite accessible way--gorgeous recordings, both.

A trip to the pianist/composer's website and an exploration of his eloquent and extensive ramblings is quite a strange trip. Thomas reveals that when he saw the romantic comedy The Seven Year Itch in 1957, he was “mysteriously prompted" ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ron Thomas Trio: Doloroso

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Ron Thomas took a few years off since his last CD release, the excellent House of Counted Days (2002). But just this year, the pianist, a commsumate musical artist, has offered up two stellar piano trio outings, Music in Three Parts and Doloroso.Thomas employs similar limitations for both of these sets. In the case of Music in Three Parts, it's a boundary of three chordal rhythmic patterns; with Doloroso, he sets perhaps a looser stricture. The resulting sounds have an alluring beauty and surface simplicity, underlain by a remarkable richness and depth, something only a trio of well-schooled ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ron Thomas Trio: Music in Three Parts

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Relative simplicity and a complete lack of pretense are two features that make Music in Three Parts such a standout sound. The disc's six tunes are based on three different musical figures: the three “Improptus" on a figure in D minor; the two “Caprices" on a figure in C major; and the final “Epilog" on a figure in A flat major. The result is a alluring sound that mixes a mesmerizing melodic beauty with some of the finest trio interaction you'll hear this side of the best Bill Evans dates.There must be a dozen relatively new-to-the-scene piano trios ...

INTERVIEWS

The Jazz Artistry of Ron Thomas: Interfacing Jazz and Classical Music

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Ron Thomas' persona reminds me a bit of the Archangel Gabriel, who appears on all those great Renaissance paintings playing the trumpet, except that Ron is a pianist. Ron, like Gabriel, stays in the background, but has a big influence on what goes on, and you know he's always up to something musical while affecting the destinies of those around him. A jazz pianist who resides in Coatesville, PA, he came up in the 'sixties', formed a close personal and musical bond with guitarist Pat Martino, and has remained heavily involved in both modern jazz and classical contemporary music throughout ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ron Thomas Quartet: The House of Counted Days

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Pianist Ron Thomas leads a quartet with a trumpeter (John Swana) out front on The House of Counted Days, and two things jump out: an obvious Miles Davis influence, and some striking originality.The opener, “Fancy of Fate," pushes you off balance. An oddly percussive workout, jaunty, ebullient, crisp; and the frame of reference is anybody's guess. Bassist Tony Marino works that big fat rubber band thing (four of them) on upright--muscular, with gorgeous sustaining power--while trumpeter Swana bites off sharp notes...Swana's Miles-mute work is beautiful on this CD, but his open horn stuff sounds even better. ...



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