"Ben is a great composer, and an energetic performer who knows how deep music can go. It's always fun to play with him."

- Jovino Santos Neto,
Brazilian pianist/composer/flautist

Dr. Ben Thomas is one of the most in-demand vibists in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to leading jazz and tango ensembles, he performs as a sideman on mallets, percussion and bandoneon with a wide variety of groups, including Tangabrazo, More Zero and the Jovino Santos Neto Quarteto.


He currently has three albums of original compositions available on Origin Records: "Triskaidekaphobia", "The Mystagogue" and "The Madman's Difference".

Thomas completed his Doctor of Musical Art in Percussion Performance at the University of Washington in 2007. His dissertation was on the development of Cal Tjader's early Latin Jazz vibraphone style. Thomas received his Master of Music with Honors in Improvisation from the University of Michigan in 1994. While in graduate school, he directed the University of Michigan's Jazz Composers Orchestra and worked with composer Stephen Rush. Thomas also graduated from Swarthmore College, where he majored in mathematics and music.


In the last few years, Thomas has performed at the Bumbershoot Arts Festival, Ballard Jazz Festival, Earshot Jazz Festival, Detroit-Montreaux Jazz Festival, Issaquah Jazz Festival, Anacortes Arts Festival, Ellensburg Jazz in the Valley Festival, Tacoma Maritime Festival, Bellingham Art of Jazz Series, and the Juneau Jazz and Classics Festival.


As a composer, Thomas has written for chamber groups, big bands, jazz combos, dance and theater. Thomas currently teaches music theory and history at Highline Community College. Working as a clinician/educator, Thomas has taught clinics and masterclasses at colleges across the country. He is an A. Putnam Mallets artist/endorser.

 

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