Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Walsh, Tom (Thomas Robert)

Walsh, Tom (Thomas Robert), trombonist, composer, digital samplist; b. St. John's,  Newfoundland, Canada, 3 May 1960. He began his musical training on piano in 1965 - at the end of a brandished ruler by a Catholic nun. Forming a fondness for Bach, he was soon winning consecutive local Kiwanis Festival Competitions - and developing a sense of humour and finesse towards "fetishistic" systems.

In 1969 his family (journalist/broadcaster/writer Brendan Thomas Walsh, 1921-1989; primary school teacher Lydia Maria Waronek, b. 1931 & sister Lydia, b. 1962) moved to a new neighbourhood and he began trombone studies at St. Pius X school band program with Leo Sandoval, a U.S. Navy jazz trumpeter from New Mexico. Andreas Barban became his private instructor on piano, bringing further distinction and awards. Carla Furlong (nee Emerson), formerly harpist with the London Symphony Orchestra (and last live-broadcast soundtrack musician for CBC-TV's "The Friendly Giant" children's series) taught him musical theory & counterpoint privately.

In 1976, as trombonist with his 14-yr old sister accompanying, Tom placed Third In Senior Brass at the National Music Festival in Toronto. He immediately bought a professional trombone with the winnings. 1977 saw his time spent: nights as principal chair between the Royal Nfld. Regiment Band and the Newfoundland Symphony; days in Memorial University studying classical music under Kjellrun Hestiken & Don Cook; weekends with a disco/funk band; and moonlighting with a Gilbert & Sullivan orchestra.

One year later, having heard Lester Bowie then Ralph Towner/Jan Gabarek improvise, he left Memorial, continuing privately with conductor/french hornist David Gray.

In 1979 he was in the new jazz department of Humber College, Toronto, studying trombone briefly with Jerry Johnson. Don Johnston's tutorship brought an indelible impression: "Technique is just technique - if you haven't learned how to feel a melody to play it, then you're just a machine ignoring your own music."

In 1980, York University was the final round of formal education, after Humber's focus on classic jazz or fusion. He did studies with David Mott. He began moonlighting with Bill Smith (sop sax; AKA CODA Publisher) and Bill Grove (alto/sop sax; AKA veteran CKLN broadcaster).

 Leaving York in 1982, Tom began working with Nic Gotham, Paul Cram, Graeme Kirkland, Bill Grove and Victor Bateman in an evolving new downtown scene, organising his first group, Thin Men. In 1986 he joined Contemporary Music Projects with Cram, Gotham and Bateman. The group made numerous independent presentations, 'gelled' into a chamber-size orchestra to present poet Michael Ondaatje's the man with seven toes, then founded Hemispheres Orchestra in 1988.

In 1987 guitar duo Nilan Perera & Rainer Wiens joined him in NOMA, which broke from local tradition and aimed radically towards thematic mixing and "multiple harmony". In its long career NOMA evolved from six players (2 g, 2 d, k, tb) to nine (3 g, 2 d, k, tb, 2 b) to eleven (3g, 3d, k, tb, 2b, as). Tom, having studied privately with Ornette's guitarist Bern Nix in NYC, hired him to substitute for Wiens during some recording.

In 1988 Walsh and saxophonist Richard Underhill formed a duo, touring & recording in '90, and sharing the stage with everyone from Bill Bruford and Adrian Belew in Toronto to guesting with L.A.'s Vinny Golia Large Ensemble in Vancouver, then earning a nomination to the Montreal Jazz Festival's national competition in '91.
In 1992, by now having played with Iva Bittova, Jane Bunnett, Gerry Hemingway, Julius Hemphill, Guy Kluscevek, Evan Lurie, Joe McPhee, Phil Minton, David Mott, Kevin Turcotte and Bobby Wiseman, Tom relocated to Montreal. Ambiances Magnetiques immediately engaged him as trombonist, while he began independent work on new directions in orchestration with digital sampling (and designing a "prepared MIDI controller"). He's been a regular feature with composers Pierre Cartier, Jean Derome, and Rene Lussier, and recorded and/or performed with Michel F. Cote and Robert M. Lepage, as well as Elemer Balazs, Michel Cusson, Lisle Ellis, Fred Frith, Jim Hillman, D. D. Jackson, Oliver Jones, Michel Lemieux, Al MacDowell, Zappa's Don Preston, and Steve Swell.

Since 1992 he's concurrently developed five distinct groups, all featuring trombone and sampler: Phat Hed, a classic horn-bass-drum trio; Midi Tapant (High Noon), digital/acoustic adventures w/ Pierre Tanguay & "found-sound"; Swifty Lazarus, experiments with sound/media manipulations & Todd Swift's spoken word; Pots & Pans a six piece modern cabaret "pit orchestra of the mind"; and Royal Jelly, an exclusive hiphopjazz party band.

He was married Feb. 28, 2001 to Adrienn Adonyi (b. 1970, Pecs, Hungary) with sons, Brendan Tamas Walsh (b. Sept. 11, 2001) and Noel Kaspar (b. Aug.12, 2003), plus an earlier son, Nathaniel Mercier-Walsh, born Aug. 16, 1998.

Thin Men: Four Year Phrase (1986); Walsh/Underhill: Comprovise (1987); NOMA: Climbing the Waltz (1991); Tanguay/Walsh: Midi Tapant (1996); Swifty Lazarus: The Envelope, Please (2002); NOMA: Diversion (2003); Phat Hed Trio: Phat Hed (2004)

As sideperson:
Paul Cram: Beyond Benghazi (featuring Julius Hemphill)  (1987); Michael Vlatkovich: Toronto Live (1992); Jean Derome: Carnets de Voyage (1994), Navre: (1995); Pierre Cartier: Chansons de Douve (1996); Rene Lussier: Chronique d'un Genocide Annonce (1996); Reunion (Pierre Tanguay): Reunion (1997); Jean Derome: Bete / The Beast Within (1997); Robert Marcel Lepage: Clarinettes Ont-Elles un Escalier de Secours? (1998); Jean Derome: Torticolis (1998); Pierre Cartier: Dis, Blaise (1999); Michel F. Cote: Compil Zouave (1999); Normand Guilbeault: Riel, un Plaidoyer Musical (1999); Paul Cram: Campin' Out (2000); Jean Derome: Canot-Camping: Expedition No. 4 (2000); Charles Papasoff: Catharsis 2 (2000); Rene Lussier: Tombola Rasa (2000); Michel Cusson: Bunker-Le Cirque (2001); D. D. Jackson: Suite For New York (2003); Rene Lussier: Grand Vent (2003)

Radio and television broadcasts:
Thin Men, CBC-FM Jazz Beat, 1986; NOMA, CBC-FM Jazz Beat, 1990. Host: Katie Malloch; Walsh/Underhill, CBC-FM Two New Hours, 1991, premiering Two of Hearts. Host: D. Jaeger; Hemispheres Orchestra, CBC-FM Two New Hours, 1991; Royal Jelly, CBC-FM: Real Time, Jan. 1995. Apropos, Jan. 1996;Walsh/Tanguay (Midi Tapant), CBC-FM Navire Night, 1996. Host: Mario Gaultier; NOMA (as trio w/ 2 bassists), TVQ Les Choix du Sophie, Feb. 2000, premiering Re: Birth; NOMA, Live at FIMAV, CBC-FM, Le Navire Night, 2004. Host: Helene Provost

Daniel MacIvor: Jump, 1991 & 2000, Theatre Passe Muraille, TO. 70 min. Contemporary theatre: performed mute with continuous bande sonore. With the Polka Dogs & tom waltz trio.
Jose Navas: Sterile Fields, 1996, world touring. 13 min. Avante garde dance soundtrack. Pots & Pans, contrebasse soloist Norm Guilbeault, poet Todd Swift.
Jose Navas: Scattered Yields, 1996, DanceSpace, NYC. 18 min. Avante garde dance soundtrack. Jean Derome, bass & alto flutes; continuous soprano flute solo.
Estelle Clareton: Le Secret and Adesias, 1995 & 1998, Tangente, Mtl. 14 & 18 min. Avante garde dance soundtracks. Live trombone soloist/performer; Je Pense a Autre Choses (AKA Genesis/Mimesis), 1999, national- ?- touring. 13 min. Avante garde dance soundtrack. NOMA, poets Adeena Karasick & Todd Swift, actor Earl Pastko
Marcelle Hudon : Madame Chen ('97), and Les Portraits de la Renarde ('99) Tangente, Mtl. National touring Les Portraits, Jan/Feb 2000. Multi-media performance art soundtrack. Live trombone soloist/performer.

Unissued recordings and films/videos:
NOMA II (2g-2d-eb-ab-tb), five hours live to multitrack, Sala Rossa, Mtl., Nov/Dec. 2002; NOMA (3 g-2 d-b-k-tb), five songs recorded Wellesley Studio, Toronto (TO), May 1990; About 10 hours of multiple-format video & film recorded live, Western Canada, 1991; Thin Men (t-tb-g-b-d), five songs recorded Grant Avenue Studio, Hamilton, May 1988; NOMA II (2g-2d-eb-ab-tb), six hours live to multi-track, Music Gallery, TO, Mar. 2000; Pots & Pans, five songs recorded Studio San-teles, Montreal (Mtl.), Aug. 1995; Royal Jelly, ten songs live, Club Disalvio, Mtl., 1992-4. Ten songs in studio, Dec. 1994

Newspapers and magazines:
Toronto Star, Apr. 20, 1989, Mitch Potter: Toronto entries bring cutting-edge to contest
Globe & Mail, June 7, 1989, Mark Miller: Walsh/Underhill are masters of the art of 'Comprovise'
La Presse (Montreal), July 4, 1989, Alain Brunet: Un peu d'humour et d'irreverence avec Walsh/Underhill
Calgary Tonite, Nov. 8, 1989, Dick Cowie: Walsh/Underhill Duo
The Edmonton Journal, Nov. 10, 1989, Roger Levesque: Exciting dialogue ahead in free jazz
The Edmonton Journal, Nov. 17, 1990, Roger Levesque: NOMA is controlled chaos
Eye Magazine (Toronto), Apr. 16, 1992, John Sobol: At. tension! NOMA's orchestrated anarchy
Eye Magazine, Nov. 19, 1992, John Sobol: Souped-up pop band !?
Le Journal de Montreal, Nov. 21, 1992, Patrick Gautier : NOMA : pollinisation musicale
Voir Magazine (Montreal), Nov. 19, 1992, Patrick Marsolais: NOMA: L'Heritage
La Presse, Nov. 24, 1992, Alain Brunet: En voir de toutes les couleurs en zappent avec Tom Walsh (NOMA)
Hour Magazine (Montreal), Feb. 23, 2000, Mike Chamberlain: 'Bone people
Voir Magazine, Feb. 23, 2000, Nicolas Tittley: Chaise musicale
Mirror Magazine (Monreal), Mar. 2, 2000, Cover story, Rupert Bottenberg: Plunging right in: Journey to the centre of the 'bone zone
La Presse, Mar. 3, 2000, Phillipe Renaud: Voyage reussi avec Walsh et NOMA
Toronto Star, Mar. 5, 2000, Geoff Chapman: Subversion, anarchy, and a heavy beat
CODA Magazine, July, 2004, Cover feature, Mike Chamberlain: The Accidental Trombonist

Mark Miller, The Miller Companion to Jazz in Canada, pp. 208-209. Mercury Press.

Nominated Trombonist of the Year, National Jazz Awards, Canada, 2003, 2002
Montreal Mirror, Year in Review, Top ten concerts (NOMA), 2000
Runner-up (Walsh/Underhill), ALCAN National Jazz Competition (Mtl. Int. Jazz Fest), 1991
Toronto Star, Year in Review, Top Horn Player of 1991,
Third place, Senior Brass Category, National Music Festival, 1975


Contact information:

address: Zsolt Utca 7. 1/5
Budapest, 1016 
email: tombone@sympatico.ca 
telephone in Canada: 514 277 0219

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