Born: May 3, 1960 Primary Instrument: Trombone
Born & raised — classically — in St John’s, Newfoundland, Tom Walsh lived & worked in Toronto for more than ten years before rebooting in Montréal.
He’s performed &/or recorded improvisational or popular music with/for such artists as: Steven Barry, Iva Bittova, Jane Bunnett, Pierre Cartier, Michel F Côté, Paul Cram, Michel Cusson, Jean Derome, Lisle Ellis, Fred Frith, Vinny Golia, Bill Grove, Gerry Hemingway, Julius Hemphill, Jim Hillman, DD Jackson, Oliver Jones, Guy Kluscevek, Michel Lemieux, Robert Marcel Lepage, Evan Lurie, René Lussier, Al MacDowell, Joe McPhee, Phil Minton, David Mott, Bern Nix, Mary Margaret O’Hara, poet Michael Ondaatje, Zappa’s Don Preston, Bobby Wiseman, the Cowboy Junkies, the Barenaked Ladies, and Bran Van 3000 in Canada, the United States or throughout Europe.
As composer, his commissions include Toronto’s Hemispheres Orchestra — he’s a founding member — (2x); mezzo soprano Kimberly Barber (3 things suite — words by e e cummings); Montréal choreographers Estelle Clareton (3x), Jose Navas (2x) and Andrew de Lotbinière Harwood (2x); Halifax’s Upstream Ensemble; CBC Morningside; Buddies in Bad Times’ new theatre launch; film-maker Don McKellar (Blue, with David Cronenberg & Tracy Wright); video artist Dennis Day (Autobiography); playwright sensation Daniel MacIvor (Jump); interactive media pioneer Don Ritter (Excity); marionettiste/performance artiste Marcelle Hudon (Madame Chen, Portraits d’un renard), new technology and electronic art symposium ISEA‘95 (Genesis After Babel), new technology music presenters [the user] (Pozon for solo trombone) and Contemporary Music Projects (the man with seven toes — words by Michael Ondaatje).
Since the early nineties, working “in the cracks” between the Jazz Avant Garde, Contemporary Classical and Alternative New music traditions, Tom has developed a unique name for himself as the leader or co-leader of six contemporary Canadian groups: Walsh/Underhill, with Toronto’s own sax genie, Richard Underhill; Midi tapant (High Noon), digital/acoustic adventures with Pierre Tanguay& “found-sound; Swifty Lazarus, experiments with sound/media manipulations & Todd Swift’s spoken word; Pots & Pans, a six piece modern cabaret “pit orchestra of the mind; Royal Jelly, an exclusive hiphopjazz party band; and, last but not least, the infamous “7-headed hydra” known as Noma, perhaps Canadian jazz’s first harmonic de-scaler.
More recently, Tom completed an Eastern European solo trombone concert tour in 2000. On record, he’s featured on more than 40 national or international releases (from most of the names above), including a healthy dose of the Ambiances Magnétiques catalogue. repertoire, he has recorded and/or performed with foreign artists such as Iva Bittova, Fred Frith, Vinny Golia, Gerry Hemingway, Julius Hemphill, Guy Kluscevek, Evan Lurie, Al MacDowell, Joe McPhee, Phil Minton, Bern Nix, Zappa’s Don Preston, and trombonists Steve Swell, Wolter Wierbos or Michael Vlatkovich in Canada, the United States or throughout Europe. He co-leads the Walsh/Underhill Duo with Richard Underhill (of the Shuffle Demons). His unique sound has contributed to the famous growl of the Polka Dogs as well as the modernities of Toronto’s Hemispheres Orchestra (of which he was a founding member). He created and leads the “cabaret pit orchestra of the mind”, Pots & Pans, and is co-leader of the “Plunderphonic” Actuelle duo, Midi Tapant, with Pierre Tanguay, mixing “cultural micro-quotes” in a cinematic ambiance. For two years, he was Music Director at Montréal’s exclusive nightclub, DiSalvio, where he produced popular shows highlighting live performers and DJ’s of the Acid Jazz, House and Jungle milieus, occasionally featuring his own distinctive group, Royal Jelly. He has conducted scores and/or improvisations in works by composers such as Jean Derome, Martin Altena, Vinny Golia, Rainer Wiens, Richard Underhill and Thelonious Monk in groups as diverse as Hemispheres in Toronto, N.O.M.A. in Montréal or Upstream in Halifax. As composer, his commissions include Hemispheres Orchestra (twice); Upstream Ensemble; mezzo-soprano Kimberly Barber; percussionist Geordie McDonald; modern dance choreographers Estelle Clareton (thrice), José Navas (twice) and Andrew Harwood (twice); performance artist Carl Trahan; multimedia performer/marionettist Marcelle Hudon; “Interactive Media” pioneer Don Ritter; a solo trombone piece for ‘New Technology’ presenters The User; CBC Radio’s Morningside (for the 20th anniversary of Stairway to Heaven); and a brass fanfare for the new Buddies in Bad Times Theatre grand opening, Toronto. In the world of film and theatre, he has been commissioned to compose soundtracks for filmmaker Don McKellar (Blue, featuring David Cronenberg and Tracy Wright); video artist Dennis Day (Autobiography); Theatre Passe Muraille (Jazz Opera the man with seven toes, M. Ondaatje: libretto; P. Cram, N. Gotham & V. Bateman: co-composers ) and playwright/director Daniel MacIvor (the 70-minute wordless play, Jump). With poet/M.C./publisher Todd Swift he created Swifty Lazarus, a “Performance Poetry” duo which presents live poetry through experiments with sound and media manipulations. As leader of N.O.M.A., he is currently working on new conducting techniques to not only broaden the compositional content of the group’s improvisations but to establish a creative process where new technologies’ effects upon old can be examined and harnessed.
music well thought through & serious, yet there is this underlying humour which sets this music apart. Tom's work here with Steve Swell is superlative. - Tiina Kiik (Whole Note Magazine)
Tom Walsh is one of Canada's most innovative musicians - Craig Harris.Rovi (www.allmusic.com)