“Lyrical, thoughtful and sophisticated"
Peter Hum, The Ottawa Citizen
I grew up in a quiet neighborhood just across the river from the bright lights of Montreal, Quebec. My mother played piano. She used to sit beside me as I practiced my classical pieces. No doubt she had to be very patient given that my four older brothers all took piano lessons as well. I guess I was lucky to have been surrounded by so much music from a young age. Someone was always bringing home a new record or songbook. I think there may have been four or more stereo systems in the house!
My brother Philip played guitar and his passion for music rubbed off on me the most. When I was fifteen my family and I moved to Vancouver. Around this time, my listening habits began to expand rapidly. While my roots were in classic rock, I was also being turned on to jazz and jazz influenced artists. By my later teens I was spending more and more time at the piano, experimenting with improvisation and composing my own songs.
My undergraduate training was split between Humber College, Concordia University, and McGill University. By my third year, I was playing with a number of different salsa bands in Montreal. I was also working a lot as a vocal accompanist. For the next several years I played a wide variety of gigs and continued to compose new music. My connections with singers led to gigs in Morocco and Bahrain, as well as aboard ships cruising all around North and South America.
I returned to McGill in 1999 to undertake a Masters degree in Jazz Performance. By this time I felt as though my compositional style had developed to a point where I was ready to record my first CD. I hired a fantastic band featuring Juno Award winners Mike Murley (saxophones) and Kevin Turcotte (trumpet). The resulting CD entitled Narrative received very positive reviews and helped me to reach new audiences across Canada and beyond. Shortly thereafter, my academic career began as I was hired to teach Jazz Studies full-time at Brandon University in Manitoba. During that time I also recorded a second CD of my original compositions entitled The Long View featuring the legendary Don Thompson playing vibes.
By 2007 I was pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Toronto while teaching part time at Humber College. When I graduated in 2011 I had the good fortune to be hired as a full time professor in the Music Department at MacEwan University in Edmonton. A few years later, I recorded a trio CD entitled Variables with Toronto greats Jim Vivian on bass and Anthony Michelli on drums.
I continue to compose new music and collaborate with many of the great musicians based in Alberta. My latest trio recording project features long time colleagues Rubim de Toledo (bass) and Jonathan McCaslin (drums). I’ve also been working closely with vocalist Chandelle Rimmer. We've recorded two albums: Be Kind (2022) and Stillness Falls (2018), both on Bent River Records. Check us out at www.chandelleandtom.com.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have my music broadcast on radio throughout North America and to have performed at dozens of venues and festivals across Canada. Over the years I've been honored to perform numerous times with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Several arts organizations have contributed generously to my professional development including the Canada Council for the Arts, Le Conseil des arts et des letters du Québec, and the Edmonton Arts Council.
Some of the great musicians I’ve had the privilege of performing with include Americans Jason Marsalis, Bob Mintzer, Maria Schneider, Eddie Daniels, Bob Breithaupt, and Gil Goldstein as well as Canadians Don Thompson, Mike Murley, Kevin Turcotte, Jim Vivian, Anthony Michelli, Mike Downes, Ted Warren, Dave Turner, Frank Lozano, Jim Hillman, Rémi Bolduc, Kelly Jefferson, Greg Amirault, Michel Lambert, Mike Malone, Fraser Hollins, Dave Lang, Greg Ritchie, Karl Jannuska, Brian O'Kane, Kieran Overs, Alex Dean, Dave Watts, Mike Rudd, Kent Sangster, Jim Head, John Taylor, and PJ Perry.