Thom Gambino is a composer, arranger, sax and flute player and author
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THOM GAMBINO–A Biography
Thom Gambino was born in 1942 in Trenton, N.J. He started playing saxophone at age 12
and became a semi-professional three years later, performing with his brother Al and friend
Joe DeLapo as regulars on the Sunday morning live radio and television show called “The
Horn and Hardart Children’s Hour” on WCAU-TV in Philadelphia, as annual regulars on the
“Tony Grant’s Stars of Tomorrow” show on the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, and a one-time
appearance in 1959 on “Ted Mack and the Original Amateur Hour” on CBS.
After studies with William Moore, Anthony Shunk and Arthur Frank, Thom Gambino
attended GSC-Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ, where he was the co-originator of the
student composers’ concert called “Festival of Contemporary Music.” He was a reporter on
the school newspaper, “The Glassboro Whit.” Thom was also founding editor of the music
department newsletter, “Crescendo.” He was named to Who’s Who Among Students in
American Colleges and Universities and the Governor’s Tercentennial List.
Upon graduation from GSC-Rowan in 1964, Thom taught instrumental music at Trenton
High School and Hopewell Valley Regional High School. Private studies with Phil Woods and
Chris Swansen led to his late-1967 move to New York City, where he performed with Tito
Puente, Celia Cruz, Bob Crosby, Ralph Marterie, Ray McKinley, Warren Covington, Art
Mooney, Tex Beneke, Buddy Morrow, Mel Torme, Machito, Cesar Concepcion and many
In 1970 Thom joined the Lionel Hampton Orchestra as alto/soprano saxophonist, flutist
and arranger. His tenure with Hamp included tours of the United States, Canada, Western
Europe, Romania, Poland, Yugoslavia and Hungary. (Thom appears on an album called
“Lionel Hampton All Star Jazz Inner Circle, featuring Illinois Jacquet and Milt Buckner,”
released on Trema Records (04389)-Laserlight, and is available today on CD. The recording
was made during a concert at Salle Pleyel in Paris during that March, 1971 European tour.)
As arranger, performer and music coordinator on Hamp’s 1972 TV special One Night
Stand, Thom worked with such jazz greats as Mel Torme (Host), Johnny Mercer, Jon Faddis,
Moe Koffman, Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Gerry Mulligan, Zoot Sims, B.B. King, Teddy
Wilson, Gene Krupa, Mel Lewis, Cat Anderson, Roy Eldridge, Tyree Glenn, Joe Bushkin, Milt
Hinton and others. Dusty Springfield and the rock group Ocean also appeared on the
program, which is available on videotape.
After leaving Hamp, Thom performed with the John Shaw and Rick Wald Orchestras, Bill
Watrous’s Manhattan Wildlife Refuge, Brownie’s Revenge and was one of the founding
members of the Manhattan Saxophone Quartet.
In 1972 Thom and Lorry Gambino formed Sunrise Artistries, an international publishing
firm that promotes new music, arrangements, books and records. The company also offered
a mail list computerization service, advertising and all other forms of desktop publishing
services, as well as a full range of promotional services for artists, musicians and
Thom toured the now-defunct Soviet Union in 1974 as a member of the Joffrey Ballet’s
rock group, the Vegetables, the first American rock group to visit that country. After
overcoming the State Department’s attempts to censor the manuscript, Thom’s book, NYET–
An American Rock Musician Encounters the Soviet Union, was published by Prentice-Hall in
1976. He promoted the book on radio and television, including an appearance on “To Tell
Gambino is the author of Jazz Patterns for the Instrumentalist, My Gentle Pearl (poetry),
The Wooden Flower (a novel) and Sunrise (a poetry and music album). His articles and record
reviews have appeared in Model’s Circle Magazine and Allegro, publication of Local 802,
AFM. He serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of World Peace News. Thom is also the book
editor of Principles of Harmonic Substitution, Musician’s Manual for Chord Substitution and
Stress Points, all authored by Dom Minasi and published by Sunrise Artistries.
In 1978 Thom and Lorry Gambino founded The UMANO Orchestra, a 26-piece jazz-
rock ensemble that utilizes many cross-cultural musical influences. They also formed The
UMANO Foundation, a non-profit, tax-exempt institution that fosters the establishment of
real, enforced international law under the framework of a World Federation. The UMANO
Foundation also fosters study of UMANO (Gaetano Meale) and his work, cross-cultural
studies and the feasibility of a World Center of Communications. Thom explained UMANO’s
ideas at seminars and meetings held during and since the 1978 and 1982 U.N. General
Assembly’s Special Sessions on Disarmament. The first translation of a work by UMANO,
Essay on the International Constitution (1912), was produced and released in 1992.
In early 1980 Thom served a stint as arranger and musical director for Esther
Satterfield, former vocalist with Chuck Mangione. From 1982 to 1984, Gambino was an
instructor at Five Towns College, a Long Island, N.Y. jazz college. He is a member of BMI,
Local 802 AFM, and Pi Kappa Lambda, a national music honor society.
The Gambinos founded Pachay Records in 1983. Deriving its name from the phonetic
spelling of the Italian word for “peace,” Pachay Records released its first 45-RPM EP record
featuring Laura Theodore with The UMANO Orchestra.
Thom assisted composer Marty Dunayer with the film score for the Republic Films
motion picture, Deadly Obsession, in early 1988.
In 1991 Thom was named Associate Producer, Conductor and Orchestrator for the CD,
video, album and TV special called “Let It Be Earth Day Every Day.” Produced by Marty
Dunayer, the project hoped to benefit the environmental group Earthtrust and featured 100
young film and television celebrities.
In 1991, Sunrise Artistries introduced its computer/laser generated music notation
service. In 1993, Lorry and Thom provided the computer music graphics, typeset and layout
for A Singer’s Guide to Reading Rhythms by Dom Minasi, and for Let’s Enjoy Piano, written by
Gary Rosato and published by G.R. Educational Publications.
As an actor, Gambino played a supporting role in 1994 in German filmmaker Janina
Quint’s documentary on philosopher/filmmaker Jean-François Lyotards.
In 1995, Thom reprised his role as Associate Producer, Conductor and Orchestrator
with Marty Dunayer for his New Age CD called “Songs of the Muses,” a collection of piano
compositions accompanied by a full array of strings, horns and guest soloists.
Producer/Engineer Steve Boyer rounded out the team. All production was done exclusively at
Power Station Recording Studios, a state-of-the-art facility.
In 1995, Thom performed on and helped arrange a CD featuring Symbiose, a Paris-
based group from Zaire (Dem. Rep. of the Congo). The CD was released on Global Beat
Records in 1995. He also recorded with his actress/vocalist daughter Kimberly Gambino on
compositions by Arturo Vacio, a pianist from Seville, Spain.
In 2002, Thom and daughter Kim contributed spoken word tracks for the CD “Land of
the Forgotten People: A Tribute to Native American Culture and Music.” The Native American
prose was accompanied by original music written by Thom’s lifelong friend, Joe DeLapo,
who, together with his wife Nancy, produced the album.
Gambino’s new book, The Vagabonds: A Musician’s Odyssey, was published by
Outskirts Press in late 2011.
Thom is currently participating in Director/Producer Lisa Hurwitz's documentary, The
Automat, a film about the Horn and Hardart Automat restaurant chain in Philadelphia and
New York City, and its sponsorship of The Horn and Hardart Children's Hour radio and
television shows in those cities during the first half of the 20th century.
Thom is listed in Who’s Who in the East, Contemporary Authors, The Blue Book–Leaders
of the English-Speaking World, Dictionary of International Biography (Cambridge, England),
Men of Achievement (Cambridge, England), Personalities of America, The International Who’s
Who of Contemporary Achievement, Community Leaders of the World, Biography
International (India), 5,000 Personalities of the World, Who’s Who in American Entertainment,
International Who’s Who in Music in the Light and Classical Fields, 2000 Outstanding
Musicians of the 20th Century, Strathmore’s Who’s Who, Strathmore’s Who’s Who Worldwide
and Outstanding People of the 20th Century.