Born: January 17 Primary Instrument: Various
Tom Chess is a Multi-instrumentalist/Improviser/Composer. He plays Reeds, Western Flute, Arabic/Turkish Ney flute, Oud, and Guitar. He also has a history of using electronics /sampling/live-sampling/loops/fx. He has performed with Drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson' Decoding Society, Butch Morris's Sheng Skyscraper, recorded with Tenor players Dewey Redman, Pharoah Sanders, Morrocan Sintarist Hassan Hakmoun and Butch Morris. He has also led a guitar trio with Drummer Phil Haynes and bassist Drew Gress called Seven Times a Year. He has studied Middle/Near Eastern and West African musics, spending time in West Africa playing and performing. He has studied with Bassam Saba, Omer Erdogdular, Tidiani Bangoura, Abdul Aziz Tourè and Mohammad Camarra. He has also conducted workshops and master classes/lectures and performances in the NYC Public school system as well as New Jersey and Universities and institutions such as Asia Society NY, Johnson State College Vermont, Columbia University, SUNY Fredonia College, McDaniels College, Carrol Community College, Md, and Gettysburg College Pa. He currently lives in NYC where he performs with his different ensembles and works as a freelance musician. He has performed at Lincoln Center, The Turkish Embassy, The Pakastani Embassy, the Asian Society, The Natural History Museum, Himalayan Museum of Art and The United Nations among countless other venues in NYC and the United States. He has also performed on NPR and PBS. He has performed in Africa, Canada, Holland, and Italy. He has been awarded grants from the Turkish American Society and The Maryland Council For The Arts....
Awards:He has been awarded grants from the Turkish American Society and The Maryland Council For The Arts.
...a buoyant frontline attack, accelerated by sinuous time signatures via linearly designed unison phrasings....Here, the power of music offers a boost to one’s spiritual health, which is an insinuating notion that parallels the highly entertaining groove-focused aspects of this largely euphoric encounter. -Glenn Astarita, All About Jazz
...one senses that this will not be an ordinary musical journey....the sound is bold...it feels as if you’re witnessing the kind of genius often celebrated in the works of John Williams, John McLaughlin, or Ali Akbar Khan. You feel proud to be alive, fortunate to hear something as beautiful as this..it may suggest that as musicians (a/k/a the dreamers of the dream), they are the ones who may find a way to bring peace on a hateful planet. -John Book-The Run-Off Groove
...Tom’s powerful oud is featured playing a long, exotic and enchanting opening unaccompanied solo in a raga-like fashion. Tom Chess is obviously a virtuoso on the oud and takes a number of outstanding solos on this great double disc set. Tom’s ensemble is featured on 19 Times in 17 Years and sound great, blending cultures, ancient and modern into an enticing multi-ethnic sound...Another thing that Tom does well is looping exotic and eerie sounds, like he does on the fascinating Two Paths. While Tom takes a haunting ney solo, he loops a handful of strange sounds into a mesmerizing blend that is most riveting to behold... Both discs here are consistently enchanting on a number of levels. ...The great cover of Ornette Coleman’s Peace Warriors is especially inspired. -Bruce Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery, nyc
A Beautiful interpretation of exactly what music is: genuine and honest and seeking to connect with all things. Like the universe itself, There exists in this music a paradox of Peace and Urgency. Match that with the instruments and Timbre's Mr. Chess plays and it is a profound sound poem for today.
-Frankie DiDonato, NYC public school music teacher.