Gary Thomas: Found On Sordid Streets

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Editor's Info:
34-year old Gary Thomas is one of the most acclaimed saxophon players of contemporary jazz. Gary was a regular member of the Miles Davis Group and of Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition.
Gary Thomas is wont to evince a veritable flood of graphic descriptions from critics. The London Jazz Journal finds his compositions "grim, grotesque, grave, gloomy" and likens his solos to "a dormant volcano erupting from smouldering menace into voluble activity". The German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung stresses the "fascinating contradictoriness of this strangely cool jazz variant with the extremely hot breath" which makes Gary Thomas "unique".
On Found On Sordid Streets Gary Thomas brings together tradition as well as modern influences, sounds of the sixties, contemporary improvisation and elements of hip hop. The Hammond Organ, symbol and soundworld of the sixties, plays the most important role on this album (you might think of Larry Young's classic album "Unity"). Gary was raised in Baltimore, a city where the Hammond organ has a strong tradition. During the very beginning of his career Gary played mostly in Hammond bands. "The Exile's Gate Band" is kind of musical biography: "I wanted to play with this Hammond sound, a sound I am very familiar with." However, Gary does not look back yearningly, he does not believe in conserving out-of-date values. His arrangements are far from being narrowminded. Gary Thomas does not suppress the artistic expression.
Gary is working with the impulses and ideas of his musicians (Pork Chop rap vocals, George Colligan Hammond B-3 organ, Paul Bollenback guitar, Howard Curtis drums und Steve Moss percussion), encourages them to maximum output.
His outstanding qualities both as a querulous and innovative musician of his times can be heard on this so-called "Post-Bop-Techno-HipHop-Out-Jazz" (Downbeat) project.
His passion for traditional elements reveals one significant influence. Gary Thomas knows very well how to transform tradition into the context of his individual environment of today.
No-one has taken the adage that there's no point copying Bird's solos 40 years on and fulfilled it to such an extreme degree" (Straight No Chaser). "John Coltrane and the rappers Ice-T and Big Daddy Kane are integrated in this music" said the German FAZ. Gary Thomas, the pioneer of the today celebrated alliance of jazz and HipHop.

Next to Eddie Harris Gary Thomas admired post-bop musicians like Woody Shaw and Billy Harper. He is often compared to giants like John Coltrane or Sonny Rollins, but their influence seems to have crept in via said Billy Harper, a tenor saxophonist of mighty tone popular in the 70´s who combined hymnic intensity and rhythmic drive. Gary Thomas compounds this heritage with new elements and carries it creatively into the future, persistently shying away from the obvious, simple and modish.
"If jazz has anything new to offer at all, then it comes from this musician" says the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Jazzman: Three Stars
September 1997
Jazzwise: Three Stars
October 1997
Cuadernos de Jazz:
Four Stars
November /December 1997
Jazz Forum: Five Stars
December 1997
Diapason: Four Diapasons
September 1997
Jazzthetik: Four Stars
June 1997


Winter&Winter (DE)
Antologia (George Colligan / Gary Thomas / Carrington)
Gary Thomas
Found On Sordid Streets
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