He is a jazz
percussionist, conductor and composer born in Budapest, Hungary, to a musical family where his father
was the clarinetist Gyorgy
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
This went on to see him performing on several recordings with Chappy’s Mopex Big
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.
with just learning and playing music, he entered Hawaii University in 1960 where he took studies in psychology
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.
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.
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.
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
Emotion (Barry Gibb/Robin Gibb)
S CBS 6164B (UK 45)