Born in Seoul, South Korea before immigrating to Toronto, Canada as a child, Tom Chang was inspired to play guitar after hearing Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page. This initial flush of rock guitar attraction was followed by equally heavy concentration in the blues, then finally jazz, in the shape of guitarists Jim Hall and Wes Montgomery.
In the mid-1980s, Chang enrolled at Los Angeles’ Guitar Institute of Technology where he majored in jazz performance. He studied privately with Scott Henderson, Joe Diorio, and the late Ted Greene. Chang’s rapid advancement led to professional work with everyone from comedian (then cabaret performer) Sandra Bernhard to crooner Luther Vandross. But his background seems oddly disconnected from what was to come. Living in New York for the past 20 years, Chang immersed himself in the City’s boiling jazz scene playing with musicians including Rich Perry, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Dave Binney, Gerald Cleaver, Chris Lightcap, Tom Rainey, Joey Calderazzo and many others. Chang’s passion for music has led to studies with Southern Indian Carnatic percussion legend T. H. Subash Chandran with whom he has both recorded and performed live.