Dan Thomas is a dedicated performer and educator who emigrated to the United States from his native Canada in 1993. He has received countless performance awards, and has performed as well as presented with some of the most important jazz performers and pedagogues in nearly every state in the continental US, Canada and abroad.
As a performer/composer “his [Dan’s] spirit, his obvious driving leadership and his passion surge to the forefront...” Butch Berman (Berman Music Foundation). Joe Klopus of the Kansas City Star raves “ Sax Man Playing First Rate Jazz!” Jazz critic Tom Ineck said “To survive as a viable art form in the 21st century, jazz must continue to evolve. In the hands of saxophonist and composer Thomas, that future is assured.” Jazz Ambassador magazine praised Thomas for his “brainy compositional style” and said that his bands continue to “provide fresh compositions and arrangements…” BMF also noted the “often-complex musical assignments” get pulled off by “Thomas firmly asserting his leadership.” Dan is known for “a tight ensemble, and muscular solos..” JAM Magazine. Noted Jazz Critic Jack Bowers writes of Dan’s “chops-busting calisthenics” and goes on to speak of Thomas’s composing “there is enough variation in mood and tempo to nourish almost anyone’s interest.” The Star noted that Dan’s bands have an “extensive repertoire from early jazz sounds to contemporary original compositions.” Barakobama.com said that the Dan Thomas Quintet “lead a fresh conversation with his group”. JAM stated “Fair warning! Jazz lovers will find them [Dan Thomas Quintet] addictive!” His dear friend Bobby Watson also shares “Dan Thomas has shown himself to be a very soulful saxophonist with a warm sound. He demonstrates great musicality and lyricism in his playing.” The owner of an important historical jazz club in KC said of Dan “he emerged with confidence, class, style and a refreshing sense of joy in his playing, writing and overall presentation of his formidable talent. Upon repeated listening. Thomas is at the top of his game, both comfortable and adventurous in his musical exploits and dynamic releases.” He goes on to say, “His artistry hearkens back to an older era yet still sounds fresh and new. Spend some time with [Dan] and you will be rewarded with music and spirit that shows not just where jazz has been but contains moments and hints where jazz is headed. Dan Thomas is a talent to enjoy now and continue to watch (and listen to!) in the years and notes ahead.”
In addition to being a busy performer Thomas has a passion for education. He holds the position as Associate Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance where he serves as the Co-Chair of the Division of Jazz Studies alongside the iconic jazz saxophonist, and friend Bobby Watson. He additionally serves as Coordinator of the UMKC Jazz Camp and the UMKC Jazz Festival. Thomas holds performing artist/educator endorsements with Yamaha, Vandoren, Locoparasaxo, and RooPads. Thomas’s regular teaching responsibilities include applied jazz studies, jazz improvisation, jazz history, jazz pedagogy, jazz combo, and the 11:00 O'Clock Big Band (which received an invitation to perform at the JEN convention in 2012). Thomas has served as a woodwind and jazz studies specialist, instrumental music instructor, as well as vocal music instructor in the public school systems in Washington, Missouri, and Kansas. He has served on the faculty at Kansas City's Penn Valley Community College and Rockhurst University. Thomas is a three-time recipient of the "Who's Who Among America's Educator's" award. With a deep love for educating tomorrow’s jazz future he regularly presents masterclasses, workshops and works as a featured performing guest artist in a wide variety of settings. He has performed and/or presented in nearly every state in the continental US, Canada and abroad. JB Dyas, VP for education and curriculum development for the Monk Institute is quoted as saying that Thomas is “..eminent, experienced, and effective..” Former student and graduate downbeat soloist award winner Michael Shults recently wrote “Dan, in addition to being a killer player, is a dedicated pedagogue who breaks down and de-mystifies the nuts and bolts of improvisation in a way that no other teacher I have encountered in my 7 years of collegiate study can.” Dan’s students can be seen around the world performing and teaching at the highest level.