"Sax-man playing first rate jazz!" Joe Klopus ~ Kansas City Star
Jazz Saxophonist - Composer - Educator
Performer, composer, arranger, educator and arts administrator Dan Thomas has received countless performance awards, and has performed, recorded and presented with some of the most influential jazz artists and pedagogues in nearly every state in the continental US, Canada, and abroad. Thomas emigrated from his native Canada to the United States in 1993.
Thomas is an in-demand performer, guest artist, and lecturer throughout the world. He has spoken on a plethora of topics, from performance practices to music business, performed countless times as guest artist at all levels, as well as made many appearances as guest conductor. In addition to Thomas’ work with his small groups, his pedigree and leadership skills are on display as he currently serves as the Artistic and Executive director of the Kansas City All Star Big Band which is comprised of the regions most celebrated jazz artists. Along with an elite group of high caliber international musicians, Thomas is signed to the Performing Artist and Educator rosters with both Yamaha and Vandoren. Vice president for education and curriculum development at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz describes Thomas as “eminent, experienced and effective.”
Thomas’ CDs, City Scope, Musical Sanctuary and Voyage continue to receive critical acclaim, and acknowledgement on the national airplay charts. His quintet recording featuring Bobby Watson, Curtis Lundy and Voyage is available for immediate release.
Thomas has held previous appointments having served as the Executive Director and CEO of the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra. For nearly two decades, he served as the co-chair of the Jazz Studies Program at UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance with Bobby Watson. Thomas was the chief architect of a new model for jazz education which garnered national attention for the program and he led a team of Kansas City Jazz royalty. Under Thomas’ leadership the program grew immensely in both quality, number and in annual giving. He taught and directed the 11 O’Clock Jazz band. Among the many accolades the band performed at the 2012 Jazz Education Network convention and was acknowledged for outstanding performance as well as being selected to perform for the Missouri Music Educator’s Association’s 78th Annual In-Service Workshop/Conference. Thomas’ contributions to education have been recognized with inductions in to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers (3 times) as well as being awarded the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Excellence in Teaching Award (2017), given to one Conservatory faculty member, and twice recognized by the Missouri Music Educator’s Association.
Thomas’ students perform throughout the globe and teach at the highest levels. His students have appeared many times at the Kennedy Center’s Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead program, Jazz Port Townsend workshops, the Monterey Jazz Festival, and JEN. Students have been recognized in numerous jazz competitions and received many awards, notably in Downbeat, by Thelonious Monk, MTNA, Yamaha, ITG, Nafme, Music for All, Grammy, Bard Summer Jazz Academy (JALCO), the National Youth Orchestra and the Vandoren jazz saxophone competition, among other.
Former student and assistant professor of saxophone at the University of Memphis says, “Dan, in addition to being a killer player, is a dedicated pedagogue who breaks down and demystifies the nuts and bolts of improvisation in a way that no other teacher I encountered in my collegiate study could.”
In addition to his long tenure with UMKC, Thomas has taught in Washington, Missouri, and Kansas public schools, and at Kansas City’s Penn Valley Community College and Rockhurst University. He presents master classes, workshops, and performs at high school and university jazz festivals as a featured guest artist around the world.
Thomas holds performing artist/educator endorsements with Yamaha, Vandoren, Locoparasaxo, WeWOOD and Roo Pads.