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Thollem McDonas

Thollem is a perpetually traveling pianist, keyboardist, composer, improviser, singer-songwriter, activist, author and teacher. He's spent most of his life living on the road throughout North America and Europe. His work is ever-changing, evolving and responding to the times and his experiences, both as a soloist and in collaboration with hundreds of artists across idioms and disciplines. Thollem's known internationally as an acoustic piano player in the free jazz and post- classical worlds, as the lead vocalist for the Italian agit-punk band Tsigoti and as an electronic keyboardist through a multitude of projects.

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Thollem began playing the piano, composing and improvising as a child, absorbing the sounds of his culturally diverse upbringing. As an adult he has continued to incorporate the breadth of musics he has experienced on his extensive travels. Since 2005, he has played over 1,500 concerts throughout N. America and Europe as a soloist and in collaboration with other musicians, dancers and filmmakers. In that time span, as lead facilitator or co-leader, Thollem has released close to 100 albums on 23 different vanguard labels. A very brief cross section of his many collaborators include William Parker, Pauline Oliveros, Stefano Scodanibbio, Nels Cline, Rob Mazurek, Ravish Momin, Michael Wimberly, Mike Watt and Carmina Escobar. He is the founding director of Estamos Ensemble, a Mexican-American cross border ensemble for musical exchange and is a published author about art, politics and his travels in NewMusic Box, The Anthology of Essays On Deep Listening, Full Moon Magazine (Prague) and First American Art Magazine.

Recent Musical collaborators include:
 Stefano Scodanibbio, Pauline Oliveros, William Parker, Nels Cline, Susie Ibarra, Francesco Dillon, Daniele Roccato, Mike Watt, Marco Rogliano, Alex Cline, Amy Denio, Faruq Z. Bey, Jad Fair, Brian Chase, John Butcher, Sara Lund, Ernesto Martinez, Eduardo Gonzales, Raven Chacon, LaDonna Smith, Richard Waters, Scott Looney, Jesse Rowland, Gino Robair, Jon Raskin, Ben Wright, Marco Eneidi, Michael Wimberly, Steve Mackay, Tim DuRoche, Ron Stabinsky, Jack Wright, João Castro Pinto, Bruce Ackley, Greg Saunier, John Dieterich, Tim Barnes, T.D. Skatchit, Chris Brown, Ernesto Gonzales, Laura Ortman, Nate Wooley, David Brandt, Nehemiah St. Danger, Gene V Baker, Jesse Gilbert, Jordan Glenn, Justin Pinkerton, Will Northrich-Redmond, Sam Coomes, Luca Nostro, Paolo Ravaglia, dSCI, Joao Pedro Viegas, Gerard Cox, Adam Smith, Anthony Poretti, Andrew D'Angelo, Rob Jost, Ullrich Mitzlaff, Syliva Tarozzi, Joel Grip, Adrienne Webster, Marko Novachkoff, Makoto Soto, Henry Kaiser, Ed Petterson, Pete Abbott, Tom Carter, Jeff Lederer, Mick Hobbs, Liz Albee, Billiana Voutchkova, David Michalak, Tom Nunn, Margaret Cassetto, Abigail Alwin, Carlos Santos, Dave Stone, Gianluca Gentili, Paulo Curado, Scott Amendola, Carlos Zingaro, Daniel Carter, Federico Ughi, Carrie Shull, Crowmeat Bob, Patrick Breiner, Luke Polipnick, John DeHaven, JT Bates, Gianluca Gentili, George Cartwright, Davu Seru, Damo Suzuki, C Spencer Yeh, Fay Victor, Michael Evans, Ravish Momin, Patrick Holmes, Eric Hubel, Steve Baczkowski, Ravi Padmanabha, Derek Johnson, Wes Steed, Ross Hammond, Dax Compise, Shawn Hale, Eric Hall, Andrew Dewar, Davey Williams, R Keenan Lawler, Sandy Ewen, Michael Carey, Skeeter Shelton, Joel Peterson, James Cornish, Kurt Prisbe, Simone Sfamelli, Valerio Cosi, Enzo Franchini, Ron Brendle, Scott Rosenberg, Jacopo Andreini, Matteo Bennici, Piero Spitilli, James Ilgenfritz, Arrington De Dionyso, Mark Southerland, Theresa Wong, Carmina Escobar, Vinny Golia, Alexander Bruck, Julián Martínez Vázquez, Zane Merritt, BC Grimm, AJ Grimm, Ron Stabinsky, Bob Ventrello, Doug Smith, Nick Driscoll, Ben Willis, Pat Reinholz, Masaru Koga, Chloe Jane-Scott, Brian Tairaku Ritchie, Kjell Nordeson, Ava Mendoza, Emilio Tamez, Darin Gray, Glenn Kotche, Rent Romus, CJ Borosque, Csaba Csendes, Karl Evangelista, Matt Ingalls, Michael Guarino, Jeff Harshberger, Shawn E. Hensen, J Ashley Miller, Annie Ellicott, Allie Naifeh, Lauren Sonder, Bob Bucko Jr., Rick Eagle, Jeff Hobbs, Sean Adams, Roberto deHaven, Christopher Johnedis, Paul Hoskin, Fletcher Németh, Sabrina Siegel, Christian Pincock, Mark Weaver, Tim Orr, Tom Djll, Phillip Everett, Eric Marshall, Markus Hunt, Bob Ventrello, Doug Smith, Charles (Charlie) Evans, Laurie Amat, Bob Marsh, Hafez Modirzadeh, Heather Treadway, Ian Kerr, Dave Wayne, Shirt, Shane Ronet, Jerry Soga, Crawford Philleo, Emily Hay, Mark Hoetzler, Dan Grabois, Todd Hammes, Renee Baker, Shaun Johnson, Karl Seigfried, William Porter, Greg Blackburn, Phyllis Sanders, Todd Matthews, Curt Oren, Nick Zielinski, Andy Burton, William Hooker, Paul Kikuchi, Greg Campbell, Adam Holquist, Rick Lopez, Kris Tiner, Spirit, Moe! Staiano, Breana Gilcher, James Connolly, James Baljo, Michael Bisio, Danny Frankel, Eric "Doc" Smith, Karl Berger, Michael Snow, Rova Saxophone Quartet.

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"One of the most captivating pianists working today" — Rui Eduardo Paes, Jazz.pt (Portugal)

“fearless experimentation…super-human handwork” – Brad Cohan, New York City Jazz Record

“McDonas is half pianist, half hurricane”
— Steve Holtje, Culture Catch

"A particularly powerful voice" — David Keenan, The Wire (England)

“An intense and virtuosic keyboardist" —Time Out New York

"Transforms 88 keys into a texturally staggering ensemble." - Detroit Metro Times

“McDonas is known for his rapturous solo piano work which transgresses genre boundaries as much as it transcends them. And while his solo piano oeuvre is remarkable for its stylistic breadth and depth, McDonas has more pure technical ability than most musicians would know what to do with.” — Dave Wayne, AllAboutJazz NY

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Primary Instrument

Piano

Credentials/Background

Over the years, as a teacher, Thollem has worked with musicians and non-musicians alike in a wide variety of approaches and techniques through private lessons and large ensembles, in music conservatories, high school concert bands, with developmentally disabled adults and children, the incarcerated, the elderly, youth symphonies and chamber ensembles. He has been traveling perpetually for years working within communities throughout North America and Europe, collaborating with a wide array of musicians, dancers, filmmakers, writers, poets, and painters. Thollem grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, the son of the dedicated and inspiring piano teacher, Geraldine Simons. He began teaching private and group piano and theory lessons when he was 13 years old. Thollem is available on-line and in person for one-on-one and small group instruction. Subjects include: * piano technique * music history/appreciation *the creative process * listening * improvisation as a way of life * composition * collaboration * career development

Clinic/Workshop Information

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Photos

Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Meeting At The...

Odradek Records
2016

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Dub Narcotic Session

New Atlantis Records
2014

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Conformity Contortion

New Atlantis Records
2014

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The View From Up

Setola di Maiale
2014

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Michael Snow and...

Edgetone Records
2014

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Bian

From: Estamos Trio: People's Historia
By Thollem McDonas

Hinges

From: Magimc: Polishing the Mirror
By Thollem McDonas

Mind Control Free For All

From: Dub Narcotic Session
By Thollem McDonas

In Return to It All Once Again

From: On Debussy's Piano And...
By Thollem McDonas

as there are

From: Thollem/Parker/Cline: The...
By Thollem McDonas

Between Our World Is Seen

From: The View From Up
By Thollem McDonas

For All Those Yet To Come

From: Gone Beyond Reason To Find One
By Thollem McDonas

Videos

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