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    Schuman, Tom (31 January 1958 – Present)

    Composer and keyboardist from Buffalo, New York, who came from musical stock and could play the piano without the benefit of sheet music when he was just six years old.  Daddy played bass and mama sang alto.  (Tom likens her voice to that of Sarah Vaughan.)  At seven years of age, Tom was already composing. 

     

    In 1965, he began taking piano lessons, but the rigidity of classical music went against his natural instinct to improvise.  Instead of playing a piece as it was originally written (which he could do, by the way) he opted to vamp over the existing chords.  Tom has an extremely high musical I.Q., evidenced by the fact that he could divine the similarities between Frederic Chopin’s “Prelude in E minor” and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “How Insensitive”. 

     

    He played organ in church, and piano at his senior high school prom, although it turned out to be a painful experience, literally.  In his attempt to open the lid on the school’s less-than-mint-condition piano, it collapsed on him before he could even play his first note.  Fortunately, the piano was hurt more than he.  He wound up playing the thing with a pair of trash cans serving as casters. 

     

    After this inauspicious debut, anything could be considered a step up, and he soon got his union card and started performing on the local club circuit.  Early venues in which he played with Birthright and The Existing Reality included prisons and the Psychiatric Center in Buffalo, New York.  He retained his sanity, however, and managed to do a recording with Birthright and support it on a European promotional swing.  Other artists with whom he worked around this time included Grant Green, Mark Murphy, and Sammy Noto. 

     

    Then he had the good fortune to jam with a couple of guys named Jay Beckenstein and Jeremy Wall, who mightn’t have had stars in their eyes but were about to give birth to one of the most successful jazz bands ever.  Their name was Spyro Gyra, and Tom has been with them from the get-go, appearing on their eponymous debut in the late ‘70s through 2009’s Down the Wire. 

     

    In the new millennium, Tom began releasing solo albums, showing off his production chops on albums such as Into Your Heart, on his own, Jazz Bridge Music label.  Its follow-up was 2003’s Schuman Nature, which utilized the talents of Cora C. Coleman, Dwayne Dolphin, and Ameen Saleem.  Tom wrote four of the tracks and Dwayne wrote another one to go with the balance of the album, which includes standard gems such as “Waltz for Debbie” and “Search for Peace.” 

     

    In his copious free time, he has still managed to record with artists such as Steve Oliver on a pair of albums, Positive Energy and 3-D, and Al Williams III on 2008’s Heart Song. 

     

    When he’s not touring with Spyro Gyra, an itinerary that keeps him on the road for about one third of the year, he continues to flex his songwriting skills on singles like “God Please Bless America” and “When”, a couple of politically tinged recordings, and hosts and co-produces a podcast entitled MusiConversations.  A website is listed below.

     

    Sources:

    1. http://www.MusiConversations.com
    2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Schuman_%28keyboardist%29
    3. http://www.spyrogyra.com/biographies.php?bio=tom
    4. http://www.spyrogyra.com/discography.php
    5. http://www.emusic.com/artist/Tom-Schuman-MP3-Download/11569077.html
    6. http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/schuman
    7. http://www.cduniverse.com/search/xx/music/artist/Schuman,+Tom/a/Tom+Schuman.htm
    8. http://www.emusic.com/album/Tom-Schuman-Heart-Song-MP3-Download/11259404.html
    9. http://www.jazzbridgellc.com/
    10. http://www.jazzreview.com/articledetails.cfm?ID=718

     

       

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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