Acclaimed internationally-touring electro-acoustic sextet for which I largely play clarinet and bass clarinet. This group, directed by the Bang on a Can collective in NYC, has worked with an exhaustive list of composers over 20 years, while focusing on the music of artistic directors Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe. It has been a pleasure to be a new member of this fantastic group since May 2013.
I am the music director and alto saxophonist for this 12-piece virtuoso street band that plays music from across the world, performing outdoors at festivals and indoors at theaters across the US and Europe. After working with everyone from Yoko Ono to Goran Bregovic, David Byrne, St. Vincent, and more, Asphalt’s newest project is a re-imagination of the Pixies record Surfer Rosa, which debuted at Lincoln Center Out of Doors in Summer 2013 and was released on Cantaloupe Music in Fall 2014.
My latest project, of which I am the composer and bandleader. This is long form, theatrical and often intense music for alto saxophone/bass clarinet with trumpet, guitar, bass, drums. I’m trying to synthesize some of my more rigorously composed music with the influences of jazz and improvisation. First CD, “It Would Be Easier If,” released in 2010, received a feature-length review in The New York Times referring to the “intricately wrought and incident-steeped” compositions and “gutsy precision of the playing.” The followup CD, “Settle,” is due for release in 2014.
This punk/jazz 4-piece collective has been going strong for going on 15 years — having toured 33 US states and 19 countries across the USA and Europe, and released 5 CDs and a DVD on Cuneiform Records, Cantaloupe Music/Enja Records, NRW, Plattenfroster and Knitting Factory Records.
I’m on performance faculty here with an incredible team of colleagues. This festival, for emerging composers and performers, features inspiring student-fellows every summer, and is always a highlight of the year — with multiple daily concerts, packed rehearsal days, and an ending marathon concert all at the Mass MoCA museum in the Berkshires, Massachusetts.
through-composed distorted/clean jazz quintet
Recorded works only - for alto saxophone, gtr, bass, drums
More as Composer/Arranger
More as Performer
He has recently released a CD of his compositions for the heralded JACK Quartet, entitled “Thaw,” on Cantaloupe Music, which was called #1 Classical CD of 2013 by Rhapsody.com, and was featured in NPR‘s “10 Songs Public Radio Can’t Stop Playing.” His latest project as a composer-performer, called Slow/Fast, was created to meld jazz and contemporary music with a personal bent. The group released its second CD, “Settle,” internationally on NCM East Records in 2014. It was praised by The New York Times for its “intricate long-form compositions,” and garnered a five-star review in All About Jazz. The Chicago Reader wrote, “Thomson’s pieces breathe and emanate an infectious energy, with every wend and wind hurtling the music forward rather than showing off the band’s chops.”
He plays clarinet for the Bang on a Can All-Stars, one of the world’s preeminent new music ensembles. He is the musical director for the Asphalt Orchestra – a 12-piece next-generation avant-garde marching band, called “cooly brilliant, infectious… top notch players” by The New York Times. He plays saxophone and is one of the 3 composers in the punk/jazz band Gutbucket, with whom he has toured internationally to nineteen countries and 32 states over fourteen years, and released CDs for Knitting Factory, Enja, NRW, Cantaloupe and Cuneiform Records. He is on faculty at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival.
As a composer, he has been commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra, Bang on a Can, the True/False Film Festival, and others, and has received awards from New Music USA, ASCAP and Meet the Composer. The New York Times wrote of his work “Wait Your Turn” for the American Composers Orchestra upon its debut at Carnegie Hall: “The concert ended on a high note…. the music offered a density worthy of the closing bars of a Led Zeppelin epic;” and of his work “seasonal.disorder” for the Bang on a Can All-Stars, “a virtuoso piece… a texture laced with power chords, screaming clarinet lines and cluster-laden piano writing. In the end it is sheer madness, in a good, thrillingly visceral way.” The San Francisco Weekly writes about his music, “Thomson’s original compositions are as complex as a beehive, filled with amber-hued nooks and crannies that bear traces of jazz, world music, and classical, without succumbing to any of them.”
As a saxophonist and clarinetist, he is a member of the next-generation chamber orchestra Signal (conducted by Brad Lubman), working directly with composers from Steve Reich to Helmut Lachenmann and a performer on CDs for Mode, Orange Mountain, and Cantaloupe Records. He is a frequent collaborator with many new-composed music groups including Alarm Will Sound. He has also worked as a music director, notably, directing composer Julia Wolfe’s “Traveling Music” at the Bordeaux Conservatory, France, 2009, and has conducted performances of “Music for Airports” with the Bang on a Can All-Stars, choir, and guest musicians in Melbourne and Buenos Aires.
He has performed extensively across the US and Europe at major jazz festivals including Jazz a Vienne, San Sebastian Jazz Festival, London Jazz Festival, Warsaw Summer Jazz Days, Rotterdam Jazz, Jazz Saalfelden, Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Belgrade Jazz Festival, etc. He has recently been the subject of profile features in Downbeat and NewMusicBox. He is a Selmer Paris and Conn-Selmer Artist, a D’Addario Reeds artist, and endorses Sibelius software.