Primary Instrument: Bass
Multi-instrumentalist and filmmaker Tom Abbs has been performing and recording in a variety of contexts (classical, rock, jazz, and improvised musics) since age eleven. Tom started his musical training at the age of seven playing piano. A couple of years later he changed his instrument to cello and by the time he was eleven he was playing the bass. He was handed a tuba in seventh grade and his conquest of the low end began. Tom went on in his teens to win accolades in state and national competitions for his work as a soloist and ensemble player.
He came to New York in 1991 to attend the New School’s Jazz and Contemporary Music program where he studied with such masters as Reggie Workman, Buster Williams, Joe Chambers, Brian Smith, Junior Mance, Arnie lawrence, Chico Hamilton and Arthur Taylor. By the end of his third semester at the New School Tom was playing gigs every night of the week and made the decision to leave school and concentrate on performing. He has been working steadily ever since. In the past decade Tom has developed a driving percussive style on the bass that encompasses the deep emotion and grit of Charles Mingus and Jimmy Garrison while showing the dexterity and inventiveness of Scott La Faro. His fluid tuba style has shed many of the instrument’s sluggish connotations and transformed it into a soaring solo and sharply percussive groove machine. Equally comfortable in free and inside settings, Abbs' versatility and depth as a player has kept him busy backing up the likes of Lawrence Butch Morris, Charles Gayle, Daniel Carter, Cooper-Moore, Steve Swell, Roy Campbell Jr., Sabir Mateen, Ori Kaplan, Jemeel Moondoc, Assif Tahar, Borah Bergman, Billy Bang, Andrew Lamb, Warren Smith and many others. Tom is currently a member of the collective groups, Triptych Myth, Yugnaut and Transmitting. He leads the band Frequency Response and tours with his solo multi-media project Multifarious.
Tom is the founder and driving force behind the arts coalition Jump Arts, which since between 1997 and 2002 presented over 150 performances and educational workshops in New York City. Jump Arts is dedicated to creating viable opportunities for revolutionary artists of different generations, backgrounds, and experiences with a strong focus on emerging artists. Since 2002 Jump Arts has dedicated itself to artists services through physcal sponsorship and media services. Jump was voted Best Arts Collective in New York City in 2000 by The New York Press.
Tom has taught music through the New York City Parks Department, Columbia University’s Greenhouse Nursery School and currently teaches artist residencies in the New York Public Schools. He also presents a free outreach program through Jump Arts called “The Creative Sound Workshop” which incorporates musical story telling and hands-on learning.
Abbs is a force of nature on the bass and tuba - Time Out NY
The dynamic outbursts of bassist Tom Abbs careened off the walls in torrential waves of sound as he sparred with the band. - All About Jazz
Abbs is exceptionally tasteful and supportive - Peter Nargasak, Chicago Reader
Tom's keen sense of improvisation propels you through a vast landscape of songs and sound. ...A must see! - Mark Minsker, Free Times
Whether bowing, slapping, strumming, or plucking, Abbs creates a field of energy that feeds the group - Cadence Magazine
Abbs, in particular, is stunning on both his axes, adding fuel to the fire. - Steve Loewy, All Music Guide