The 2014 presentation of his ‘NUSCA’ rhythm project (check out the videos and audio files on this page) featuring the SEAN THOMAS ‘NUSCA’ TRIO (Brandi Disterheft–Bass, Lawrence Leathers-Drums and Sean Thomas-double seconds) confirms the span of Thomas’s career milestones from child musical prodigy to musical pioneer. In this project, Thomas experiments with four compositions; two Jazz standards – Miles Davis’s “Donna Lee”, Thelonious Monk’s “Round Midnight”, Beyonce’s ‘‘Crazy in Love” and his original composition “Swing, Swing Blues”.
Thomas has returned to his roots on the steelpans and displays his inclination to experimentation. He achieves his intention to approach the instrument as a piano using his creation the “Cannon Sticks”. (See “Cannon Sticks” for more information).
The second son of Leroy Thomas, Pan Tuner, Arranger and Manager, ‘Moods Steel Orchestra’ Sean had what was to be a lasting introduction to the iconic instrument, playing with his father’s band from the early age of seven (7). Fatefully, it was the drums that fired and nurtured his musical growth. With the launch of the ‘NUSCA’, his virtuosity as a master of rhythm is artfully displayed.
At the “Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance”, now known as the “Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance” Boston https://hancockinstitute.org/alumni/, Thomas refined his musical aesthetic under the tutelage of Jazz Masters including Tom Mc Intosh, Ron Carter, Thelonious Monk Jnr., Barry Harris, Max Roach, Lewis Nash and Wynton Marsalis. He toured India and Thailand with the Thelonious Monk Jazz Ensemble under the direction of distinguished Jazz Masters: Carl Atkins, Thelonious Monk Jnr., Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter and performed both drums and steel pans at the Snowmass Jazz Festival in Aspen Colorado, India & Thailand. Following this exposure, Sean returned to his native Trinidad to begin is journey as a composer, musician, performer, arranger, inventor, entrepreneur and teacher.
Serving as a public school teacher and a private tutor many of his students are now accomplished musicians. His credit in the arena of public musical performance includes a first and second placing in 1994 and 2002, respectively, of a musical arrangement performed by members of the steel orchestra of his alma mater, St. Augustine Senior Comprehensive School for the Schools National Panorama Competition (an island wide steelpan competition for schools). Sean also did the musical arrangement for Moods Steel Orchestra for the National Conventional Steelpan (Small Band Category) competition. Moods Steel Orchestra was declared the National Panorama Champions in their category for 1994. However, his most prodigious accomplishments have been in his role as performer/pioneering jazz promoter.
A brief summary of the highlights of Thomas’s role as performer and pioneering jazz promoter must include the following achievements:
- Jazz concert: “In the Realm of Masters” 1999, featuring The Ruiz Brothers. (Curtis-Electric Bass, Felix-Piano and Jason Baptiste-Double Tenor).
- Award: Best Instrumental Category 1999, (‘BET Jazz Discovery’).
- Workshop/concert for musicians: ‘Jazz Artist Workshop’ 2002-2007 which has featured local Jazz Fusion pianist Clive “Zanda” Alexander. Patterned after a workshop conducted in Holland by past tutor and mentor Dr. Barry Harris, www.barryharris.com, Thomas introduced the steelpan to the workshop for the very first time.
- Performance: Barbados Jazz Festival & Miami Bay Front Park Festival with one of Trinidad’s Jazz Fusion guitarists Michael Boothman.
- Performance: St. Lucia and Grenada Jazz Festivals with St. Lucia’s fusion guitarist Ronald “Boo” Hinkson in 2000-2001.
- Performance: The Sean Thomas Quartet featuring Grant Langford-Tenor Saxophone (U.S.A.), Rudy Smith-Double Tenors, Orville Wright-Piano, Ron Reid-Bass & Etienne Charles-Trumpet (TnT), Arturo Tappin-Saxophone (Barbados “Jazz Artists on the Greens 2003/4/6/7/8”, Trinidad www.jaotg.org.
- Performance: The Sean Thomas Quintet featuring Nilson Matta-Bass, Klaus Mueller-Keyboard, Grant Langford-Saxophone & Marisa Lindsay-Vocals performed in 2009 at Trinidad’s “Jazz Artists on the Greens”.
- Performance: Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz 25 Anniversary – first panist to hit the stage with the likes of Terence Blanchard-Trumpet, Gretchen Parleto-Vocals, Lionel Loueke-Guitar to name a few.
- Performance: Jazz in The South, St. Lucia, Produced by Labowi Promotions featuring JATT All Stars Ensemble (Directed by Sean Thomas) featuring Michael Low Chew Tung-Keyboard, Etienne Charles-Trumpet, Douglas Redon-Bass, Sean Thomas-Drums & guest from Haiti, Thurgot Theodat-Saxophone.
- Performance: Drummer with Paquito D’Rivera, Berta Rojas & Mia Gormandy at Queens Hall, Trinidad 2012, produced by LiveArt & JATT.
- Performance: Drummer with acclaimed Jazz Trumpet player Brownman Ali, Trinidad Electryc Trio at LiveArt Bistro, Trinidad 2013, produced by LiveArt & JATT.
- Performance: The Sean Thomas Quartet featuring Brandi Disterheft-Bass, Grace Kelly-Saxophone & Brianne Ford-Piano performed at the inaugural Trinidad & Tobago Jazz Week 2013 produced by The Jazz Alliance of Trinidad & Tobago.
Beyond performance, Thomas’s commitment to jazz education, continues to inspire his entrepreneurial activities. Among the vehicles to achieve his vision for jazz education are included S.T. Jazz Incorporated, Production One Limited www.jaotg.org and more recently the Jazz Alliance of Trinidad and Tobago www.jazzalliance.org whose mission is to develop innovative programs to educate, preserve and promote the influence of America’s Classical Music (Jazz) within the Caribbean.
As a prolific event creator and manager, the list of his credits and pursuits include “Jazz Artists on The Greens”, “Jazzang”, “Jazzolypso”, “Jazzup The Runway” “Summer Holistic Workshop”, “Common Wealth of Sounds”, “In The Realm of Masters”, “Jazz Artists Workshop” and Trinidad & Tobago Jazz Week 2013.
Currently serving as President of JATT & Director of LiveArt Bistro, https://www.facebook.com/LiveArtBistro, Thomas believes that the company will help to strengthen and broaden the musicians’ knowledge via its workshops, Clinics, nightly performances and jam sessions. This encourages musicians to work and experiment together ensuring a higher level of competence and confidence.
Sean is also working on the finishing touches of the new “Calypso Real Book” which will hit the market soon. (See “Calypso Real Book” for more information).