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Jay Thomas

Jay Thomas, a native of Seattle, is a versatile multi-instrumentalist (trumpet, flugelhorn, alto, tenor, soprano and flutes). His music is eclectic, drawing on all musical situations in his life. His music could be described as lyrical without losing touch with the blues.

Jay's musical talent was recognized early on. While still in high school he was the recipient of a Down Beat one-year scholarship to the Berklee School of Music in Boston. From Boston Jay moved to New York where he frequented Village jam sessions and worked one summer with Machito's Latin band. Three years later he had added flute and tenor to his repertoire. Through the mid-seventies Jay lived and played with top musicians in the Bay Area including Jessica Williams. In 1979 he moved back to Seattle and became a frequent member of the house band at Parnell's Jazz Club working engagements with jazz artists George Cables, Charles McPherson, Bill Mays, Ralph Penland, Harold Land, Diane Schuur and Slim Gaillard and sitting-in with many greats as they traveled thru Seattle.

Jay can be heard on over 60 LPs and CDs. Blues For JW is Jay's eighth CD as leader and fifth release from McVouty Records. Jay's first two CDs, Easy Does It on Discovery Records and Blues For McVouty on Stash Records featured Cedar Walton and Billy Higgins. 360 Degrees on Hep Records (1995) and Rapture on Jazz Focus (1996) continued to establish Jay as one of the foremost players on the bop scene. Jay's previous CDs from McVouty Records titled Live at Tula's, Volume 1 and Volume 2 and 12th and Jackson Blues were live performances and have the feel of the after hours clubs where Jay first tested his jazz chops. Both gained high marks from audiences from Japan to Europe. Jay's two latest CDs with Becca Duran are: If You Could See Me Now, a showcase for Becca's blues and standards interpretations and Song For Rita, a trip to Brazil in the Getz/Gilberto tradition. Jay's other recordings run the gamut from hip-hop, acid-jazz, rock, Latin, big band and many small jazz groups. Current favorite releases are: two with Jessica Williams, Joy and Jessica's Blues and four big band recordings, On Going Home and Things For Now with the James Knapp Orchestra, Red Kelly's Heroes with the Ramsay/Kleeb Orchestra featuring Pete Christlieb and Use Us with Continued In The Underground Jazz Orchestra (Japanese big band). Jay is featured on the latest Bud Shank CD, On the Trail. This was the last recording by Conte Condoli and Jay is playing tenor and soprano sax in a sextet setting with Bill Mays piano Joe LaBarbera drums and Bob Magnuson bass and of course Bud on alto. Two recent recordings have Jay teamed up with jazz greats, Ray Brown (Blues for Dexter, Wolfetones Records) and Elvin Jones (Jones for Elvin, Hip City Records).

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Album Review

Jim Knapp Orchestra: It's Not Business, It's Personal

Read "It's Not Business, It's Personal" reviewed by Jack Bowers

The Jim Knapp Orchestra's CD It's Not Business, It's Personal, recorded in February 2009, was set to be released on November 19, 2021—six days after Knapp died at age eighty-two in Kirkland, Washington. Apart from his role as bandleader, Knapp was a trumpeter, composer, arranger and longtime faculty member at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. Described by Grammy-winning composer/pianist Jim McNeely as “a brilliant musician, great teacher and a humble, sweet [and] generous man," Knapp was widely recognized ...

Album Review

Jay Thomas Quartet: Upside

Read "Upside" reviewed by Paul Rauch

Seattle-based musician Jay Thomas may be considered the oddest of ducks in the jazz universe. By that, I am referring to his fierce musicality expressed both on trumpet and saxophone, as well as most members of the brass and woodwind families. Inspired early in his career by the like minded veteran Ira Sullivan, Thomas in a single night will drift from trumpet to tenor, from flugelhorn to alto, and then double back on flute and soprano. He may as well ...


20 Seattle Jazz Musicians You Should Know: Jay Thomas

Read "20 Seattle Jazz Musicians You Should Know: Jay Thomas" reviewed by Paul Rauch

The city of Seattle has a jazz history that dates back to the very beginnings of the form. It was home to the first integrated club scene in America on Jackson St in the 1920's and 30's. It saw a young Ray Charles arrive as a teenager to escape the nightmare of Jim Crow in the south. It has produced such historical jazz icons as Quincy Jones and Ernestine Anderson. In many instances it has acted as a temporary repose ...


Tula's Jazz Club: Soliloquy to a Seattle Jazz Institution

Read "Tula's Jazz Club: Soliloquy to a Seattle Jazz Institution" reviewed by Paul Rauch

It was the tail end of a long weekend. Temperatures had risen to 80 degrees under a sunny only-in-Seattle blue sky, the waterways and markets humming with a sea of humanity. It was not a night one would expect many to venture into the quiet, dark solitude of Tula's Jazz Club, where for nearly 26 years the best of Seattle's vibrant jazz scene had come to roost. The scene up and down Second Avenue in Belltown was its usual interesting ...


Jay Thomas: We Always Knew

Read "Jay Thomas: We Always Knew" reviewed by Paul Rauch

Legacy is a fleeting notion. It is incomprehensible in real time when a career hits high points, when certain doors open to quantitative opportunity. Jay Thomas can tell you a thing or two about that, based on his own personal experience as a jazz artist over half a century. His story includes playing on the Seattle scene as a teenager, leading to opportunities hampered by among other things, drug addiction. It is as well a story of overcoming those obstacles ...

Album Review

Jay Thomas / Gary Smulyan: Lowdown Hoedown

Read "Lowdown Hoedown" reviewed by Paul Rauch

Sometimes the most joyous and satisfying things in life occur in the light of pure happenstance. Such was the case when New York based baritone saxophone master Gary Smulyan ventured west in the 90's to perform and teach at the Jazz Port Townsend Festival in Washington state, in those days directed by veteran saxman, Bud Shank. There he met an unusually remarkable and versatile musician, Jay Thomas, a jny: Seattle native and resident, and a friendship was forged that at ...

Album Review

Jay Thomas and Wataru Hamasaki: Accidentally Yours

Read "Accidentally Yours" reviewed by Jason West

Jay Thomas, Wataru Hamasaki, and Geoffrey Keezer divide the lion's share of jazz improvisation on this May, 2004 session taped at Ironwood Studios in Seattle, and while Thomas (a veteran Northwest trumpeter gaining international attention) and Keezer (whose resume includes stints with Art Farmer and Ray Brown) are well-established players, Hamasaki is a virtual unknown. Now here he is playing with the big boys, and making a big impression.

Thomas encountered Hamasaki on a recent sojourn to the land of ...

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Thomas And Groenewald: A Fine Togetherness

Thomas And Groenewald: A Fine Togetherness

Source: Rifftides by Doug Ramsey

Jay Thomas With The Oliver Groenewald Newnet: I Always Knew (Origin) Thomas, a veteran master of brass and reed instruments, teams with Groenewald, the man he describes in his liner notes as “the perfect fit for me as an arranger.” With a band that includes ten of the Pacific Northwest’s major jazz artists, the two explore the possibilities in a dozen ballads from the past nine decades. In the five years or so that the German-born Groenewald has lived near ...



Jazz Greats Jay Thomas & Phil Dwyer Appear in Victoria/Nanaimo February 17 & 18

Jazz Greats Jay Thomas & Phil Dwyer Appear in Victoria/Nanaimo February 17 & 18

Source: All About Jazz

For Immediate Release Jazz Greats Jay Thomas and Phil Dwyer Appearing in Victoria/Nanaimo February 17 & 18 Jazz fans on Vancouver Island will be able to enjoy a rare treat when Seattle Jazz Legend Jay Thomas makes the trip north of the border to appear with award winning pianist and saxophonist Phil Dwyer. Jay Thomas has been a fixture of the Seattle jazz scene since the late 1970's and has appeared with a “Who's Who" of Jazz greats as a ...



Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

It's Not Business,...

Origin Records



Self Produced


Praise and...

Solid Groove Recordings



McVouty Records


Lowdown Hoedown

C.u.g. Records


Sound in Stone: Music...

Hip City Music


Gray Skies

From: It's Not Business, It's Personal
By Jay Thomas

Anointed With the Oil of Joy

From: Praise and...
By Jay Thomas


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