Saxophonist and flutist Gary Thomas established himself in the 1980s as one of the most jarring soloists of his generation, especially against somewhat chaotic backdrops such as the electronic-tinged accompaniment of guitar, keyboards, bass and drums on Seventh Quadrant (1987) and Code Violations (1988). He kept antagonizing the tradition of jazz with By Any Means Necessary (1989), featuring (among others) alto saxophonist Greg Osby, keyboardist Geri Allen, guitarist John Scofield, bassist Anthony Cox and percussionist Nana Vasconcelos, and The Kold Kage (1991), that experimented with synthesizer, turntable and rapping, always displaying a passion for uncharted territories. A member of Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition band and Thomas has worked with John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Jim Hall, Dave Holland, Wayne Shorter, Ravi Coltrane, Cassandra Wilson, Wallace Roney, Miles Davis, Steve Coleman, as well as numerous other premier jazz musicians. He currently serves as Director of Jazz Studies at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore.
Director and Chair of Jazz Studies. Jazz saxophone and flute, jazz improvisation, ensembles. Studies at Howard University, Washington, D.C. Native of Baltimore, MD. Founder of jazz studies degree program at Peabody. First African-American degree program director at the conservatory. Internationally-known tenor saxophonist, flutist, and educator. Has traveled the globe as both a leader and a sideman. Performance and recording credits alongside the likes of Dennis Chambers, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ron Carter, Vinnie Colaiuta, Billy Hart, Wynton Marsalis, David Sanborn, Joe Lovano, Joshua Redman, Bobby McFerrin, Sam Rivers, Vanessa Williams, Betty Carter, George Benson, McCoy Tyner, Randy Brecker, James Newton, Jeff Watts, Marvin "Smitty"Smith, Patrice Rushen, Kevin Eubanks, John Scofield, Tony Williams, Kenny Garrett, Jimmy Smith, John Patitucci.
In addition to 11 recording dates as a leader, his work on more than 80 recordings as a featured sideman reflects his status as one of the most coveted saxophonists on the jazz scene today. Two of his recordings as a leader, By Any Means Necessary and While the Gate Is Open, were named best recordings of the 1990s by Downbeat Magazine. Has performed as a featured artist at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall, The Kolner Philharmonic, L'auditorium Stravinski, Whitla Hall, Gasteig Philharmonic, Athens Concert Hall, The Hatch Shell, The Chicago Symphony Hall. Clinician at universities throughout the U.S. and Europe including University Of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan, Towson University, Baltimore, MD, Esberg Musikkonservatorium, Esberg, Denmark Odense Musikkonservatorium, Odense, Demark, Malmo Folkhögskola, Malmo Sweden, Royal Conservatory Of Music, Stockholm, Sweden, National Conservatory Of Music, Paris, France, Rytmisk Musikkonservatorium, Copenhagen, Denmark, Folkwang Hochschule Essen, Essen, Germany, Berklee College Of Music, Boston, MA, Musik Hochschule Jazzabteilung, Graz, Austria, Bruckner Conservatory, Vienna, Austria, Hamburger Konservatorium, Hamburg, Germany, Staatliche Hochschule Fuer Musik, Trossingen, Germany. Has been highlighted in several texts including The New Grove's Dictionary of Jazz, Masters of the Jazz Saxophone: The Story of the Players and Their Music, Jazz: The Rough Guide: The Essential Companion to Artists and Albums, and the Simon and Shuster publication, Miles: The Autobiography.