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    Vig, Tommy (14th July 1938)

    He is a jazz percussionist, conductor and composer born in Budapest, Hungary, to a musical family where his father was the clarinetist Gyorgy Vig.  He was already an acclaimed musical prodigy by the time he was six years old and accompanying his father on drums and performing at places like the circus, the music academy, the theatre and on radio.

     

    When he was eight years old he performed with several Austrian jazz musicians on his debut recording The World Champion Kid Drummer and in 1947 he won the MGM Jazz Competition that was held in Budapest.  This went on to see him performing on several recordings with Chappy’s Mopex Big Band. 

     

    he was performing a a jazz vibraphonist for Hungarian State Radio and in 1947   In 1949 he was not allowed to perform jazz anymore in Hungary’s communist society, but he managed to get his musical education and eventually graduated from the Bela Bartok Conservatory and the Erkel Herenc Music High School in 1955 and 1956 respectively.

     

    1956 was when things changed for Tommy as he took it upon himself to seek his freedom in Austria and took his life in his hands by walking through the minefields laid by the Russians to achieve it.  His successful escape led him to a return to his much missed performances as a vibraphonist at a club and the Music Academy in Vienna.

     

    Before long he decided to head for the United States and emigrated to New York where he was awarded a scholarship to study at the Juilliard School of Music, where he also took lessons in composition, which led on to conducting.

     

    Not content with just learning and playing music, he entered Hawaii University in 1960 where he took studies in psychology and history.

     

    Getting his name known as a percussionist he travelled from New York to Las Vegas where he met and married Mia Kim of The Kim Sisters who were starring in the same show as him.  Since then they have appeared on countless stage performances together on an international level.

     

    He relocated to Los Angeles in 1970 and became an extremely sought after studio musician and big band leader and at the same time composed many works for the movies.  It is thought that his work in the studio amounts to in excess of 1400 recordings.

     

    In 1984 he was the conductor and producer of the Olympic Jazz Festival for the games that were held in Los Angeles that year.  His other work with music festivals has seen him as a conductor and organiser of the Caesars Palace Jazz Festival that’s held in Las Vegas every year.  Strangely enough, he never performed in any European jazz festivals and confined his appearances in them to the United States.

     

    In 1985 he went back to school again and this time studied law at California’s Mission Hills College.

     

    In 1994 Budapest’s State Radio awarded him a Hungarian Grammy Award and he received further recognition from his native Hungary when he was commissioned to write “Budapest 1956” to be performed by the Budapest Jazz Orchestra to the US Ambassador and given the First Prize in Musical Arrangement by the Hungarian Jazz Federation in 2006.

     

    In 2006 he returned to Hungary on a permanent basis with his wife.  They continued giving performances there for radio and TV as well as stage concerts. 

     

    Throughout Tommy’s long career he has composed music for around 30 films and TV shows and had many symphony orchestras perform his classical works such as Concerto for Clarinet, Vibraharp and Orchestra, Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra and Collage for Four Clarinetists

     

    He has lent his talents to many artists in the music and film industry that include John Addison, Woody Allen, Burt Bacharach, John Barry, Tony Bennett, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Mel Brooks, Bruce Broughton, Johnny Carson, Natalie Cole, Don Costa, Tony Curtis, Vic Damone, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Dr. John, Jimmy Durante, Randy Edelman, Gil Evans, The Four Tops, Judy Garland, Merv Griffin, Maurice Jarre, Stan Kenton, Michel Legrand, Billy May, Nelson Riddle, Shorty Rogers, Mickey Rooney, Lalo Schifrin, Dusty Springfield, Red Skelton, Frank Sinatra and John Williams along with countless others.

     

    As you will understand, his album catalogue is too huge to list, but a small selection includes his own Just for the Record, Now and Then, Somebody Loves Me, Sound of the ‘70s, Tommy Vig in Budapest, UssDob (Beat It),  and Welcome to Hungary! The Tommy Vig Orchestra 2012 feat. David Murray.  He has also performed on every studio album recorded by Rod Stewart along with Bish by Stephen Bishop, Passage by The Carpenters, Watermark by Art Garfunkel, Roots by Quincy Jones, Mancini Salutes Sousa by Henry Mancini, Pastiche by The Manhattan Transfer, That’s What Friends Are For by Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams, Red Hot Rhythm & Blues by Diana Ross and Acting Up by Marlena Shaw.  

     

    He has held many top positions within the industry such as being a member of ASCAP for more than 40 years and holding the post of Vice President of the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers for a ten year period.

     

    As an author he has written How To Tell What Things are Really Worth which has credited him with being the inventor of Non-Subjective Valuing which is now a patented scientific method.

     

    In the field of musical education he has given masterclasses at the Tatabanya Jazz Academy and the University of California, Northridge.

     

    Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams recordings

    Emotion (Barry Gibb/Robin Gibb)

    S CBS 6164B (UK 45)

     

    Sources:

    1. http://tommyvig.com/TV_bio.html
    2. http://musicians.allaboutjazz.com/musician.php?id=1726
    3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Vig
    4. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0896905/
    5. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/tommy-vig-mn0001433985/credits

     




     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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