Born: April 8, 1979 Primary Instrument: Trumpet
Leron Thomas’ musical journey began in his hometown of Houston Texas, always inspired by family rich with respect and understanding of quality music. After graduating from Houston’s distinguished High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, he ventured to New York City to develop as a trumpet player and composer, enrolling in Manhattan’s The New School. While studying, his own music was evolving and maturing. Recognized for this he began performing professionally with various artists including Bilal, Billy Harper, Charles Tolliver and Roy Hargrove. The quality of his original compositions was enhanced when playing live alongside talented peers Robert Glasper, Damion Reid, Vicente Archer, Marcus Strickland, Harold O’Neal, Isaac Smith, Reggie Quinerly and Omer Avital. Leron graduated from The New School in 2003 with an identifiable sound, recognized by The New York Times, amongst others. Staying in Manhattan to pursue his professional career as a writer and trumpet player, Leron worked with many more artists from a variety of genre’s including Michael Stipe, Lauryn Hill, Bobby Watson and Mos Def, to name a few. Subsequently he found ways to liberate himself through a natural, fluid progression into writing and performing ‘other music’. These compositions required his personal trumpet tone along with his vocals to emphasize the diverse sound. From 2004 onwards he developed this genre-crossing music incorporating jazz, blues, pop, country, electro-pop and rock. With eight independently released projects and critical acclaim Leron explores a range of artistic media. Having music in film he also featured in an independent short film 2010 and appears on Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Bubblers Eight.
January is a time of year where many make grandiose promises and gestures – aka New Year’s resolutions – for their future intentions. Leron Thomas’s Appear to Stack has a clear intent and executes with precision, smack us around the head with soulful electronica that carries more weight than an operatic baritone. The song seems to tell a tale of music industry exploits. “You keep acting like success but won’t invest” says Leron. Invest in this. Steph McLaren - letsbebrief.co.uk, 1/8/13
Quirky guy extraordinaire Leron Thomas yesterday dropped a new project called ..Take It. You might recognize him from his guest vocal appearance at the recent Gilles Peterson set at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC this past October. Or maybe you remember the peculiar clown themed video we shared with you not so long ago? Either way, there's a lot more where that came from. For yet another taste of the antics, watch the Appear To Stack video above. Retro party vibes mixed in with some bizarre cameos that'll permeate your conscience something serious. Be ready for it. www.giantstep.net, 1/4/13
When Leron Thomas’ mum was in the queue for the ‘bestowment of gifts onto new born child’, she was handed a few. Which makes a Leron Thomas an anomaly. The talented trumpet, composer, vocalist and lyrist creates a strange but wonderful concoction of music that spans a range of genres. While you can never be quite sure what you are going to get, you can rest assured knowing the consistency is in the quality. According to Leron’s bio he has been establishing his musical career working alongside the likes of Robert Glasper, Micheal Stipe, Lauryn Hill and Mos Def. His solo efforts have received the recent co-sign from Giles Peterson, who featured him on Brownswood Bubblers Eight. Leron also likes to dabble on the visual side of things. Retro video mash-up edits Old Friends, featuring clown faced youngsters who veer more on the side of Stephen King’s It than the playful children’s party variety. Steph McLaren - letsbebrief.co.uk, 11/30/12
Musician and vocalist Leron Thomas takes a leading role with producing and editing his new video for “Old Friends”. The evocative and performative song is coupled with an eerie video montage of vintage school clips and really eerie, creepy clown painted children. www.giantstep.net, 11/15/12
The catastrophic tsunami that hit Japan not all that long ago is still affecting areas of Japan and will continue, with changes to the ecosystem and the threat of a serious nuclear disaster still imminent. The music world, in particular, has done a phenomenal job in creating awareness and has itself created a wave of fantastic music. This latest offering is a jazzy excursion by Mr New York Leron Thomas and the extremely talented Gretchen Parlato. This one comes from an album called Home: Gift of Music - Japan Earthquake / Tsunami Relief, which you can't actually hear online except for this track and one other. This one, however, is a real standout using perfect, accessible, jazzy instrumentation with thoughtful lyrics. Be sure to check it out and if you're feeling generous, buy this album and support the cause. goodhairmusic.blogspot.com, 9/17/12 “Leron Thomas.. Mr. New York” is not to be missed” auralnotes-blog.com, 8/7/12 This summer Brownswood Recordings release another effortlessly enjoyable compilation; part eight of their Bubblers series. Each volume is dedicated to fresh material from up-and-coming artists who have beguiled the discerning ear of none other than record company founder and superstar DJ, Gilles Peterson… There’s more minimalism to come on jazz number ‘Mr New York’ by Leron Thomas. An outstanding track, considering the bar is already set pretty high, Thomas regales the listener with tales of hectic city living by way of a dichotomous arrangement-at once frenetic and mellow- and inspired, light touch instrumentation. His deceptively crude, almost flat vocals throw in some Kurt Elling-esque chord changes and phrasing for good measure. tolitasmusings.blogspot.com, 7/27/12 The trumpeter, singer, bandleader and provocateur Leron Thomas, a New Yorker originally from Houston, isn’t making it easy on himself. His records, self-produced and often underproduced, are hard to sum up, and that’s the point. They’re perverse and searching and sketchy and sometimes quite lovely: straight-ahead jazz” he is a serious improviser, rhythmically strong and controlled in ballads” as well as R&B, tense indie-rock and several kinds of singer- songwriter music. He sings in croons and yelps, making acid commentary about competition between musicians, sexual rituals and everyday treachery, feckless posing, attractions and repulsions, and class and race. Sometimes you don’t know when he’s joking, or what kind of joke he’s making. Sometimes he isn’t joking. Basically he’s letting the audience come to him. To that end, you can hear all his albums on iTunes now, or order the discs through his Web site, leronthomas.com; they range from the instrumental small-group jazz of “Around You,” to the consolidated songcraft of “Juxtaposed,” to the all-over-the- placeness of “Improvsensation” and the “Dirty Draws” series. So on Vol. 3 of that series, we’ve got the leering “What You Need,” with a spaced-out, glamorous atmosphere and sophisticated funk; “Owe It All,” prog-jazz in 6/8 rhythm; “Stadium Lights,” with needling racial commentary in soothing, then sweeping chord changes; “Blush,” a Neptunes- influenced come-on to a complicated woman; “Proverbs,” a foggy, midtempo instrumental ballad with warm, broad trumpet playing and smart rhythmic accents; and “Mr. New York,” about feeling disaffection for a great city. It’s a legit piece of post- cabaret on a big subject, something to file with LCD Soundsystem’s “New York I Love You, but You’re Bringing Me Down” and Dave Frishberg’s “Do You Miss New York?” “Dirty Draws, Vol. 3” is a choppy sprawl stacked with attitude, probably too much to handle in an album; a producer is both what it needs and exactly what it doesn’t need. But in this case, what’s an album? Mr. Thomas is making a case for his work as one long, curious unspooling.” Ben Ratliff - The New York Times 8/15/11 Some very good music went down. On Night 1 Mr. Thomas - trumpeter, singer, composer and almost comedian - sang wordy, needling songs about sex and insecurities and character flaws, yelling out private jokes wherever possible. Intermittently hilarious, his set fishtailed through jazz and rock and funk; he hasn’t found his cult just yet, but with more songs like “Roll Play,” he might.” Ben Ratliff - The New York Times 1/17/11 “Having made a career for himself through both his distinctive trumpet voice and compositional prowess, Leron Thomas added to his discography with his recent release of Juxtaposed, a utterly creative, if not partially bizarre, venture into the inventive mind of a masterful genre- bender.” Eric Sandler, The Revivalist “A veteran of soul singer Bilal’s horn section, trumpeter Leron Thomas has distinguished himself as a wry, under the radar, singer/songwriter on four independent releases, beginning with the Dirty Draws volumes. Tiombe Lockhart has extolled his songwriting brilliance, and Lockhart and Bilal are featured on Volume 1′s searing “Strange As it May Seem.” Jalylah Burrell, Clutch Magazine 9/20/10 “Trumpeter/composer Leron Thomas’ new CD is an album of beautiful ballads: it’s tempting to ask, is this a joke? Thomas has a distinctive, sometimes brutally sardonic sense of humor, and a vastly more diverse sensibility than he lets onto here. To see him go in such a traditional jazz direction, so effortlessly and unselfconsciously, it only makes sense to wonder if he has something up his sleeve. This is Blue Note stuff, Newport stuff, accessible yet brimming with inspired contributions from a well-chosen supporting cast: Lage Lund on guitar, Frank LoCrasto on acoustic and electric piano, Burniss Earl Travis on bass and electric bass and Jamire Williams on drums. From the photo on the album cover, Thomas doesn’t look any happier than he would if he was opening for Chris Botti (somebody he’d blow off the bandstand: then again, so would a whole lot of good jazz players). But when he picks up his horn…wow. Vividly lyrical and expressive, the melodies jump out and linger memorably: you can hum this stuff to yourself in the street. The opening track, Doc Morgan works its way methodically into a slow triplet rhythm which Williams tosses playfully, the rest of the band in turn echoing Thomas’ terse, distantly bluesy explorations with a similar purist touch. The suspiciously titled Conformed Retro mines a subtle, tuneful bossa vibe for all the balminess Thomas can muster, yet for all its trad overtones, the playing isn’t cliched, particularly when he picks up the energy. The contrast between Lund’s eighth-note flights and Williams’ terse, solid snare-and-cymbal is awfully compelling too, as is LoCrasto when he introduces a brisk tectonic shift and the band has no choice but to follow. Wordless Fable, for all its unassuming warmth, hints at a resolution but won’t go there and then it’s over. So what is Paycheck Players about? Dudes who are broke all week because they bought so many drinks for girls on Friday night? Or is it a stab at mercenary musicians? LoCrasto’s spritely, tongue-in-cheek electric piano offers a hint. The album closes with the title track, a gorgeous, contemplative song without words that reminds of Harold Arlen, particularly at the end: somebody should give this one lyrics. Who is the audience for this? Your typical Newport/Blue Note jazz crowd. It’s almost as if Thomas is saying, “I can do this as well as anybody in the business, almost without trying.” No joke.” LucidCulture.wordpress.com “This one is over the map stylistically, which is actually a strong point for Houston-born trumpeter/composer Leron Thomas since he so defiantly resists categorization. The hilarious rant on the cd booklet’s liner notes is worth the price of the cd by itself, Thomas railing knowingly and aptly against the incompetence and shortsightedness of the dying major labels, band managers who are no more than glorified groupies, and the rigid groupthink that pervades so many of the various New York music scenes, from jazz to pop. As with the liner notes, there’s a lot of anger here, tempered with a disquieting sense of humor that nonetheless is often laugh- out-loud funny. There are a couple of indie rock songs here, the best being the opening cut, an insistent indie rock song with raw, eerie harmonies on the chorus by Thomas’ frequent collaborator Michael Severson. Another, Cut & Paste shares a sarcasm with much of the rest of the album: “I just cut and paste my life.” Sandmen is sardonically minimalist hip-hop, obviously dating from the days of the Bush regime: “When you see that girl’s ass what you thinking about? Oil, baby!” The next cut, Sanitation Truck is more hip-hop, a bizarre early- morning urban tableau. The inscrutable Kitchen blends an early 80s Midnight Starr proto-hiphop feel with Kool Keith-style weirdness. A couple of instrumentals, When Zelda Replaced GI Joe and In the Silence match lo-fi, clangy guitar with Thomas’ balmy, pensive trumpet. Pearly Whites is sarcastic, Beatlesque pop that grows unabashedly menacing toward the end, a feel echoed earlier by the completely bizarre What’s Done Happen. Time Travelin’ Love is a funny funk/rap number, a broke guy trying to pick up a girl; EnVino is a drinking song, if Bob Marley’s drug of choice was wine instead of weed, he would have sounded like this. The cd winds up with Fashion, lo-fi Prince-inflected funk bemoaning shallowness all around him; the wee-hours rant 2:34 AM and the sly empowerment anthem Spoils. This is a very strange yet a very honest and straightforwardly compelling album. Whatever direction Thomas wants to go in, he may want to bounce between all of these, which is perfectly ok, this cd is a very entertaining way to get to know him.” LucidCulture.wordpress.com “All in all, Mr Thomas seems to have no fear. Its intelligent, casual, a little nuts and completely entertaining” Ben Ratliff, New York Times
“Recently released Volume 2 of his Dirty Draws series; a collection marked by his wry sense of humor and restless sense of musical exploration” Egie Ighile, Objectiff Magazine “Versitile and talanted, he [Leron] brings trumpet, vocal, songwriting and beat-making skills together on tunes from jazz to soul to blues..” Ennio Styles, straightup.com.au “Leron Thomas is a young jazz trumpeter from Houston, with chops and power. He has rethought his music lately changing his band and adding rhythmic and harmonic complexities” Ben Ratliff, New York Times “What first caught my attention was Tiombe Lockhart on the bill as well as Antibalas trumpter Eric Biondo's side band Beyondo, but after hearing Leron Thomas, he may be the name to keep a heads up for tonight. Houston native Thomas has a really innovative sound that sounds like a crossblend of jazz with indie rock…really worth giving a listen” deadlymelody.com “Improvsensation is Leron Thomas' latest album and will be promoted at the official CD Release Party March 27. He will be performing 2 live sets featuring guest artists; Mike Severson, Mike Moreno, Tom Roslak, Justin Brown, Jamire Williams and Mark Kelly. The range of notable musicians reflect the diversity of genre, from Indie Rock to Jazz, making for a great night of incredible music.” nypress.com “And then came 'All For Love' and professions of genius. “I don't do this all on my own,” he [Bilal] said in hat tip to opener and sometimes songwriting partner the gifted Leron Thomas” Jalylah Burrell,vibe.com
“Friday's show featured LeRon Thomas from Houston, who dwarfed his instrument with his large frame and played beautifully, with a lighthearted, dancing disposition. Tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland, pianist Robert Glasper, bassist Brandon Owens, and drummer Kendrick Scott completed the lineup. This clique has become loosely known as “the class of 2001”; they're a powerful, rambunctious lot, playing with remarkable advancement for their age. As Thomas and Hargrove went toe to toe, with yet another trumpeter, Keyon Harold, sitting in on a fast “Straight, No Chaser,” the combative but good-natured ethos of the cutting session filled the air. And by no means was Hargrove pulling any punches. The strong players to his left and right were raising the stakes and pushing him to the limit. “Play your horn!” implored someone in the audience, and Hargrove responded with biting phrases, deep in the pocket and drenched in soul.” David Adler, All About Jazz
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