Rob Thomas Bio

Rob Thomas is widely considered to be one of the most original, technically adept and powerful violinists playing jazz and contemporary music. JazzTimes calls him "a violinist of exceptional creative resources... riveting as a solo voice with a rich complex tone that can sing or shriek". Thomas has been ’singing and shrieking’ in and around New York City since moving there in 1991. In the mid ’90’s he toured and recorded extensively with ’downtown’ mainstays, The Jazz Passengers (who often featured guest vocalists Deborah Harry and Elvis Costello). He is a veteran of Gregg Bendian’s Mahavishnu Project, and can be heard on two critically acclaimed recordings by that adventurous repertory ensemble. Since 2001, Thomas has held the violin chair in the String Trio of New York, being the fifth in an series of notable violinists to join guitarist James Emery and bassist John Lindberg in this illustrious group, now in it’s 33rd year. Three outstanding recordings have resulted in the "Thomas era". As a free-lancer, Rob has also contributed to recordings by Lee Konitz, Andy Summers, Los Jovenes Del Barrio and Marc Ribot. He has also performed with The John Handy 'Monterey' Quintet, Max Roach, Jan Hammer, Bobby Previte, Claude Williams, The Soldier String Quartet, Akua Dixon's Quartette Indigo, and Ute Lemper’s ’Punishing Kiss’ band.

While studying classical violin and music theory in his hometown of Eugene at the University of Oregon, Thomas became fascinated with jazz and soon began working with the local players. He later moved to Portland and eventually played throughout the Pacific Northwest as a leader on violin and a sideman on bass (on which he "doubled expertly" according to Leonard Feather in a Los Angeles Times festival review), gaining valuable experience in pick-up bands with jazz greats such as Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Charlie Rouse, Eddie Harris, Mose Allison, Nat Adderly, and others. Rob's own groups made regular appearances at regional clubs and festivals and often included local luminaries, Glen Moore, Nancy King, and Jerry Hahn. Thomas still enjoys playing the bass, and has worked as such in Asia and the US in the not too distant past with the Grammy Award winning vocal ensemble, New York Voices.

Also an active educator, Thomas taught in the Northwest at Reed and Marylhurst Colleges, and at Cornish College of the Arts. He is currently a Professor at Berklee College of Music (Boston) and an adjunct instructor at the New School and City College in NYC. He has been an occasional substitute teacher at The Julliard School.

 

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