Award-winning saxophonist, composer, and arranger Michael Thomas has been an active member of the New York City jazz community since arriving in 2011. Studying music from an early age, Thomas’ focus shifted to jazz in high school, and during his senior year, he was awarded a full scholarship to the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music as a Studio Music and Jazz Major. While at UM, Michael had the opportunity to study with Gary Keller, Gary Lindsay, Whit Sidener, and Ron Miller, as well as numerous guest artists. Michael played lead alto in the DownBeat Award-winning Concert Jazz Band and Studio Jazz Band, as well as being a member of the Frost Jazz Sextet. He was also given the opportunity to study classical flute and clarinet full time, in addition to saxophone, which led to his appointment as co-principal clarinetist in the Wind Ensemble, conducted by Gary Green. Thomas is featured as the clarinet soloist on the Wind Ensemble’s 2010 Albany Records release Wolf Rounds, performing the solo part on Michael Daugherty’s “Ladder to the Moon”.
Upon earning his B.M. in 2008, Thomas moved to Boston to pursue a Master’s While living in Boston, Thomas performed weekly from 2009-2011 at Wally’s Jazz Café with trumpeter Jason Palmer, and he is featured on Jason’s SteepleChase debut, Nothing to Hide. Michael also used his time in Boston to become a more active composer and bandleader, ultimately releasing his debut album The Long Way in April 2011. This recording features eight of Thomas’ original compositions, and he is joined by Greg Duncan (guitar), Pascal le Boeuf (piano), Ben Street (bass), and Lee Fish (drums).
Shortly after his album release, Michael moved to New York City to participate in The Juilliard School’s Artist Diploma program, as a member of the school’s flagship jazz ensemble. While in this ensemble, he had the privilege to work and study with some of the finest of today’s musicians, including Carl Allen, Kenny Barron, Steve Wilson, Ron Blake, and Wycliffe Gordon. This program emphasized teaching as well as performing, and during his two years as a member of this ensemble, Thomas gave concerts and masterclasses throughout the United States, Europe, South and Central America, and Australia. Michael’s time at Juilliard also gave him the opportunity to participate in numerous classical performances on saxophone, clarinet, and bass clarinet, as a member of The Juilliard Orchestra, The New Juilliard Ensemble, and AXIOM.
Michael’s career has taken him throughout the United States and abroad, and his performance credits include appearances with Maria Schneider, Dave Liebman, Wayne Shorter, Nicholas Payton, Ryan Truesdell, Randy Brecker, John Hollenbeck, Brian Blade, Gunther Schuller, John Patitucci, and Jason Moran.
Michael plays exclusively on mouthpieces handcrafted by John Thomas of Thomas Woodwinds.