Artist's BiographyDr. Ben Thomas has been a percussionist since 1985. Playing vibes, drumset, and percussion, he has
performed in a wide variety of groups and genres. In the last few years, Thomas has performed at the
Bumbershoot Arts Festival, Earshot Jazz Festival, Detroit-Montreaux Jazz Festival, Issaquah Jazz Festival,
Anacortes Arts Festival, Ellensburg Jazz in the Valley Festival, Tacoma Maritime Festival, Bellingham Art
of Jazz Series, and the Juneau Jazz and Classics Festival.
Thomas completed his Doctor of Musical Art in Percussion Performance at the University of Washington
in 2007. His dissertation was on the development of Cal Tjader's early Latin Jazz vibraphone style. Thomas
received his Master of Music with Honors in Improvisation from the University of Michigan in 1994.
While in graduate school, he directed the University's Jazz Composers Orchestra and performed with
Stephen Rush. His time with Rush resulted in the CD recording of Rush's chamber opera, Murders in the
Rue Morgue. Thomas also graduated from Swarthmore College, where he majored in mathematics and
As a composer, Thomas has written for chamber groups, big bands, jazz combos, dance and theater. In
1999, he was awarded a grant for music composition by the Seattle Arts Commission. Since moving to
Seattle, he has been leading jazz groups and performing as sideman with many types of groups. Thomas
currently teaches at Highline Community College. Working as a clinician/educator, Thomas has taught
clinics and masterclasses at Eastern Washington University, the University of British Columbia, Western
Washington University, the University of Puget Sound, and Seattle's World Rhythm Festival, as well as
high schools and grade schools across the country.