Ken Thomson is a staple of New York City’s contemporary music and jazz communities, and is widely regarded for his ability to blend a rich variety of influences and styles into his own musical language while maintaining a voice unmistakably his own. Embracing the combination of complexity in harmony, rhythm, and form while adding a punk-rock aesthetic, Thomson has carved out a unique corner in today’s multifaceted musical world.
As a performer-composer bridging jazz and contemporary music, Thomson has released two albums with his group Slow/Fast. The most recent of these, Settle, was praised by the New York Times for its “intricate long-form compositions,” and garnered a five-star review in All About Jazz. The Chicago Reader wrote, “Few musicians travel as assuredly and meaningfully between jazz and new music.... Thomson’s pieces breathe and emanate an infectious energy, with every wend and wind hurtling the music forward rather than showing off the band’s chops.” He released an album of his compositions for the heralded JACK Quartet, entitled Thaw, on Cantaloupe Music. The record was called the #1 Classical CD of 2013 by Rhapsody, and was among NPR’s “10 Songs Public Radio Can’t Stop Playing.” His 2016 release, Restless, features two major works for cello and piano performed by Ashley Bathgate and Karl Larson. It garnered a 7.9 Pitchfork review and received “Top of 2016” accolades from writers Seth Colter Walls, Steve Smith (Log Journal) and AnEarful, which wrote, “No album in 2016 in any genre did more with less than Restless, featuring two huge-sounding chamber works composed by Thomson.”