Tommy Vig

Primary Instrument: Vibraphone

Born: July 14, 1938    

Tommy Vig

As an award-winning jazz vibraharpist/drummer/film, television and classical concert music composer/jazz arranger/big band leader/percussionist/inventor/author, I have worked with Henry Mancini, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Quincy Jones, Rod Stewart, John Williams, Diana Ross, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Dean Martin, Stan Kenton, Michel Legrand, Mickey Rooney, Milton Berle, Judy Garland, Lalo Schifrin, Jerry Goldsmith, Sammy Davis Jr., Don Ellis, Joe Pass, Alan Silvestri, Burt Bacharach, Gil Evans/Miles Davis big band, Johnny Mathis, Jimmy Webb, Jack Benny, Freddy Hubbard, Manhattan Transfer, Robben Ford, Art Pepper, Benny Golson, Ralph Martieri, Billy May, Bruce Broughton, Cat Anderson, Chappy, Natalie Cole, Nelson Riddle, Don Costa, Jimmy Durante, Earle Hagen, Buddy Hackett, Juan Garcia Esquivel, Florence Henderson, Fred Karlin, Ben Lanzarone, Bob Rozario, John Elizalde, Anthony Marinelli, Charles Fox, George Romanes, Gil Melle, Jack Hayes, John Addison, John Barry, John Collins, Jesse Barish, Jim Cregan, Bob Hughes, Bruce Roberts, Johnny Mann, Lajos Dudas, Lawrence Rosenthal, Lennie Niehaus, Lionel Newman, Marlena Shaw, Martin Denny, Maurice Jarre, Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin, Paul Jabara, Pete Rugolo, The Kim Sisters, Randy Edelman, Ray Anthony, Red Rodney, Red Skelton, Shorty Rogers, Steve and Edye Gourmet, Sid Caesar, Terry Gibbs, Tony Curtis, Van Alexander, Milcho Leviev, Aladar Pege, Billy Byers, Danny Thomas, and Vic Damone, just to name a few, and produced, directed and conducted the official Olympic Jazz Festival for the LAOOC in Los Angeles, 1984....
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Playboy Magazine

Down Beat Magazine

L A Jazz Society

Hungarian State Radio

President of Hungary

Governor of California

Mayor of Los Angeles

Hungarian Jazz Society

”Colossal... jazz totally committed” - The Jazz Journal, London

”Cohesion, fire, tenderness, fine soloists and excellent charts” - The Jazz Record Digest

”Intriguing musical statements... of compelling interest” - Playboy Magazine

”Tommy Vig's talents as a composer, arranger, percussionist and vibe soloist are quite admirable”- Jazz And Pop

”Big Band with a bite... Brilliant.” - Army Times

”Superlative playing” - Jazz Monthly, England

”Swings with a vengeance” - Los Angeles Times

”Tremendously exciting band” - Daily Variety

”High standard of performance” - Saturday Review of Literature

”Excellent” - Variety

”Milestones along the jazz road” - The Las Vegas Sun


”The liner notes of Tommy Vig's Welcome to Hungary certainly create an interesting first impression. The booklet is essentially an extended rant by Vig that touches on everything from politics to aesthetics to metaphysics. If nothing else, the reader understands that Vig despises multinational corporations, rock music, fusion, and especially the Beatles.

The music is almost as enigmatic as the liner notes, but thankfully much more focused. Indeed, Tommy Vig has created an original, strangely intuitive, and ultimately satisfying big band. This music is avant garde, and dissonance is integral to their vision. That said, Vig's pieces are about as catchy as avant garde big bands could conceivably be. Fast unison parts are balanced with clear melodies, and rounded out with explorative soloing and inventive charts.

Tommy Vig and saxophonist David Murray work well together, and the sensitive interaction between the two players lends a sense of direction to the proceedings. Many songs feature extensive parts in which these two artists are featured without the rest of the band. Murray's solos retain their challenging nature but never sound grating in the context of Vig's more atmospheric vibraphone playing.

Given how adventurous this music is, the horn charts sometimes sound surprisingly old-fashioned. Many of the tunes are based off of a swinging riff, recalling the classic swing bands of Benny Goodman and Count Basie. But this is just a starting point, as Vig and Murray explore each song with thoroughly modern harmony. And this is not just limited to the solos” the developmental sections of each song are as difficult and demanding as 20th century classical music, while remaining firmly in a jazz aesthetic.

Highlights of the set include the lengthy and cerebral “Sahara” and the Thelonious Monk tribute “In Memory of Monk.” The latter song seems particularly suited to this record, as Vig and Thelonious Monk each share an idiosyncratic, dissonant, and yet curiously catchy musical vision. Every song on this recording has something to offer, and there is not a single weak track.

. . .

Despite its cranky eccentricities, this is worth seeking out. It is an original, swinging and well conceived and well executed effort.” - Eric Prinzing, JAZZREVIEW.COM

”Tommy Vig and David Murray are the real deal! Welcome to Hungary ! is a Bags and Trane collaboration configured for the 21st century. Tommy Vig’s Orchestra is truly outstanding on all fronts, and his arrangements are, of course, nothing less than top-notch. The highlight of the album is the constant interaction and interplay of Tommy Vig’s vibes and David Murray’s halting tenor saxophone. David Murray is the true heir to the late John Coltrane’s avant-garde tenor saxophone technique and concept, and Tommy Vig is mindful of his playing up and down the horn throughout the entire album. He has composed and arranged precisely to suite his guest soloist’s ecstatic tenor saxophone playing. David Murray’s non-stop stretches up-and-down the tenor saxophone are completely synchronized with Tommy Vig’s Orchestra. Tommy Vig's arrangements are incredibly tight; you can feel the band’s pulse throughout each track of the album, with each instrumentalists being completely in-line with the other. David Murray’s extended technique provides a harmony-in- itself, and Tommy Vig realizes the full effects of this, hence the need for his Orchestra to provide a more focused energy that would give Murray the space to stretch out. Murray plays the tenor saxophone with Tommy Vig’s Orchestra in the same spirit as tenor-man John Gilmore did with the Sun Ra Arkestra during the golden age of jazz.” - Dustin Garlitz, (Oct 2011)


”HIGH CALIBER BAND ! Excellent arrangements and vibe playing by Vig !” - Jazz Podium Magazine, Germany, Oct 2011

”Beautiful ! Enjoyed WELCOME TO HUNGARY ! very much, especially the vibe solos !” - Mate Hollos, President, Hungarian Composers Association

”The Tommy Vig arrangements are very powerful” - Steve Voce of the Jazz Journal, England

”A Gem of Big Band Swing!

Vibraphonist Tommy Vig has had an interesting career. Born in Budapest, he played the drums when he was six and recorded his first album two years later. Music was his passion, but the political landscape in Hungary was to cast a shadow on his days as a jazz musician. Jazz was banned in 1949, and Vig could not play it again until 1956. With the defeat of the Hungarian Revolution, Vig decided that it was time to move on. Move he did, through the minefields of Russia and into Austria. He later went to New York and the Juilliard School of Music, but not before he had played with keyboardist Joe Zawinul. But his moving days were not over; he left New York for Hollywood, and then Las Vegas, and it was in those cities that he found the nail to his career as he established himself playing with Frank Sinatra, Joe Pass and Rod Stewart, among others.

Vig pursues the “Big Band American Sound” on Welcome to Hungary!, but goes for an interesting trajectory with the inclusion of saxophonist David Murray whose free styles permutations energize the music and two Hungarian instruments, the cimbalom and the tárogató. It all works well with the tasteful arrangements enriched by the musicians.

Murray and Vig state the theme of “Sahara” with tenor saxophone and vibraphone, respectively; both in melodic consonance. Murray angles out, changing the tempo and intensity of his notes in a virtuoso performance. The advent of the orchestra moves the composition into a swing time that Murray embraces with robust verve. The assimilation is seamless, and the soulful power absorbing.

“Vig Corn,” based on a Hungarian folk melody, has an incipient beauty framed by Balazs Cserta on tárogató, accompanied by Rózsa Farkas on cimbalom. The mood explodes in a dazzling array of swirling melodic lines that quickly gravitate into swing. The concept makes for a lively outing and, with Cserta and Farkas adding intonations, this turns out to be most delectable of the set.

Another side of Vig's creativity comes through his solo on ”Rise and Shine,” where he probes the dynamics of his instrument with crystalline runs and an artful blend of harmony and melody. The orchestra dwells on the melody, and so does Murray, in what turns out to be another gem of big band swing.

The five bonus tracks feature a slimmer band that is spearheaded by the brass. This is a tight outfit, sure in its focus and approach that sees it melding composition and freedom with finesse. This trait is strong on “I Told You,” where the melody's arc is pricked by the horns. Two ballads, expressively sung in Hungarian with feeling by Mia Kim, come in quite a different mode.

The accompanying booklet has information on the recording, and Vig's often acerbic views on music and politics make for entertaining reading.” - Jerry D'Souza (All About Jazz)

”Stan Kenton 2011 ! Intelligent charts, beautiful, futuristic orchestration” - Peter Pallai, Director, Hungarian Cultural Center (London)


”Tommy Vig is a vibes player who's Hungarian orchestra is a cross between the
Vienna Art Orchestra & Loose Tubes, & very good” - Martin Bright (UK Jazz Radio)

”Modern ! I liked “Welcome to Hungary!” It is ahead of the times!” - Robert Maloschik (JazzToday, Budapest)

”Music for Free Thinkers ! When you’re 73 and you’ve left Hollywood and capitalism behind, you’re pretty much free to do things as you see fit.  Free jazz big band that certainly has its roots in church basement jazz, recording from Hungary notwithstanding.  The liner book comes with a lengthy hippy diatribe against selling out and this cat can have his opinion since he’s been on both sides of the fence.  If music from labels with names like BYG, Actual or Celluloid means anything to you, this left leaning big band date will resonate with you in a big way.  Certainly music for free thinkers.” - Chris Spector (Midwest Record)


Tommy Vig, Welcome to Hungary! 2011. DECEMBER 06., FODOR PÉTER - to-hungary

This was written by Peter Fodor, a newcomer to the Hungarian jazz scene!

“I did not even read the notice of the the Godor Club: - Tommy Vig lemezbemutató • ingyenes.

After being exposed to a concert fit for an audience at Dizzy's Coka Cola at Lincoln Center ( in New York” I started checking out who all were in the stage at Godor Club performing for me and an audience of jazz fanatics.

It turns out that I should not have been surprised a least little bit at the quality of what I heard.

Tommy Vig made it big because he is a master vibraphonist” He performed with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Tony Curtis, Miles Davis-Gil Evans big band, Woody Allen, Diana Ross, and Rod Stewart just to name a few. His wife Mia Kim now I guess Mia Vig was a vocalist who also has similar credentioals!

The amazing part of the night was that the eight locals who were on stage with these two stars were no less impressive Istvan Elek - tenor saxophone, Ferenc Schreck - trombone, Janos Hamori - trumpet, flugelhorn, Balazs Cserta - tarogato, Joe Fritz - clarinet, Istvan Gyarfas - guitar, Sandor Sarkany - double bass, Zoltan Horvath” drums.

There is not enough space for me to honor all the musicians but must mention Joe Fritz whose solos were full of cretive sounds and rhythm that added a great deal to the evenings concert.

The music they played and Mia sang were standards that were as fresh and new as if we had not heard them before “Summertime”, “Sing, Sing, Sing” Tommy also put Petofi Sandor on stage by composing music for “Füstbe ment terv” the vocal was by Mia “a Korean lady singing Hungarian poem” a unique and wonderful experience (I am sure Petofi was smiling in his grave!), “Body and Solita”, “Caravan”; they also played music composed by Peto Zsolt for a series of animated films named “Gusztáv”!

The music was sweet and jazzy with all the soul that makes humans live for music (sometimes weep but more often laugh and smile).

Thank you Mia, Thank you Tommy who, together with the eight great musicians made the audience swoon with joy and happiness!

By the way the new CD (Welcome to Hungary!) has all the great music covered by a cover that must have been designed to ensure that no one buy this wonderful CD. Sorry Mr Designer.

Tommy and Mia we want to see a lot more of you and I am sure that the eight musicians will also enjoy gigs with you!”

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    Welcome to Hungary

    Klasszikus Jazz Records
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    Welcome to Hungary!

    Klasszikus Jazz Records
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    Now and Then

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    Spotlite Records

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Northridge University, Tatabánya Jazz School, Bartók Conservatory, Juilliard School of Music

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Willing to teach jazz improvisation on any instrument.

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Featured recording “Welcome to Hungary”

Welcome to Hungary

Klasszikus Jazz Records (2012)
Download jazz mp3 “Rise and Shine” by Tommy Vig
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