Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Tymas, Baron (Thor)
Tymas, Baron (Thor), guitarist, composer; b. Washington DC, 6 February 1960. He's the elder of two children of William E. Tymas and Scotta Barsella. His younger sister is Whitney C. Tymas. The family lived in Washington until 1972, when they moved to Reston, Virginia, where Baron spent his youth.
He began playing guitar at fourteen. At fifteen, he entered the preparatory school Milton Academy, in Boston, MA, where he studied music with Bob Sinicrope, Mick Goodrick and Christopher Brooks (grandson of Cab Calloway and later director of the Cab Calloway Big Band). At Milton, Baron won music awards and was awarded at the Massachusetts state jazz band competition. Later, he attended Vassar College (majoring in English and briefly studying classical guitar with Terry Champlin), Berklee College of Music (studying guitar with John Baboian and Tom Szymczak) and Howard University (studying with Arthur Dawkins, Geri Allen, Reppard Stone, Thomas Korth and Frank Bahus) where he earned the B. A. in English in 1988 and the Master of Music in Jazz Studies in 1992. He has also studied with Pat Martino, Jimmy Bruno, Bill Harris and Calvin Jones.
In the late 1980's and early 1990's, Baron taught high school English and worked as a technical writer for a Washington consulting firm, while playing guitar and guitar synthesizer in Washington-area groups, notably the reggae band Black Sheep and the electric jazz quartet Cross Currents. In 1993 he acted, sang, played guitar and composed underscore for the Washington, DC premiere run of George C. Wolfe's play Spunk at the Studio Theatre. In 1994, Baron and wife Laura relocated to Richmond, VA, where they lived until 2001. While in Richmond, Baron, taught guitar and jazz courses at the University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Union University and J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.
He played hundreds of club dates and festivals in the Mid-Atlantic and southeastern U.S. with the jazz-funk quintet F.R.E.N.S., which included vocalist Rudy Faulkner, keyboardist Lance Dickerson, bassist Carl Lester El, II and drummer Ira "Nate" Smith. During this time, Baron also performed and/or recorded with Desiree Roots, Rene Marie, The University of Richmond Faculty Jazz Ensemble (with guest artists, including Ingrid Jensen, Jim Snidero, and Chris Vadala), James "Saxsmo" Gates, Skip Gailes, Russell Wilson, Clarence Seay, Jamael Nance, J. "Plunky" Branch, Bob Hallahan, Bruce Barth, Howard Curtis, Elias Bailey, Robert Jospe, John D'earth, Kevin Teasley, Bottomland, Dadjay, Weldon Hill and many others.
In 1996, Baron initiated and directed the Richmond Jazz Society's Summer Youth Jazz Workshop. In the summer of 1999, he toured Europe with vocalist Theresa Thomason, where her ensemble played twenty-two packed shows of 1,000-10,000 people each. In 2001, the Tymas family moved to North Carolina for Baron's new position as head of the guitar program and assistant director of jazz studies at North Carolina Central University in Durham. At NCCU, he performs with the Faculty Jazz Combo (Dr. Ira Wiggins, Jay Meachum, Mitchell Butler, Arnold George, Ed Paolantonio, Chip Crawford, John Brown and Thomas Taylor) and assists clinicians and guest artists such as Jimmy Heath, Grady Tate, Sam Rivers, Grady Tate, Winard Harper and Dick Oatts.
He is an active jazz performer and also performs regularly in the North Carolina Theatre pit orchestra. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Richmond Jazz Society and the Jazz Composer's Alliance, and on grants panels for the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the Durham Arts Commission.
Howard University Jazz Ensemble (1984); Black Sheep: Learn from Each Other (1989); Baba Dontez: Horns for Bob Marley (1993); Tomas Jones: My Happiness (1995);
The University of Richmond Faculty Jazz Ensemble (archive recordings 1996-2000); F.R.E.N.S.: The First Time (1997); Bottomland: Feet of Clay (1999);
James "Saxsmo" Gates: Come on Over to My House (2003)
Radio broadcasts (incomplete list):
WPFW FM (Washington, DC), interviews and live performances, 1992-4; WDCU FM (Washington, DC), interviews and live performances, 1989-93;
WWDC FM (Washington, DC), interview with Black Sheep on nationally broadcast "Greaseman" show; WCVE FM (Richmond, VA), interview and live performance, 1994;
WNCU FM (Durham, NC), interviews and live performances, 2002-3; WVSU FM (Petersburg, VA), interview with F.R.E.N.S.;
WVKR FM (Poughkeepsie, NY), jazz announcer (conducted on-air interviews with Dizzy Gillespie and Pat Metheny), 1979-81;
Other promotional radio broadcasts with Black Sheep and F.R.E.N.S.
Cross Currents: Cross Currents (unreleased 1993); Baron Tymas Quartet: Freedom (Ninety minutes of unreleased jazz quartet and guitar trio recordings, 2000); Kevin Teasley (four unreleased tracks); Ascension (five unreleased tracks)
Print articles describing Baron Tymas' musical endeavors have appeared in The Washington Post, The Richmond Times Dispatch, Maryland Musician, and other periodicals.