New Orleans is a city with a rich musical heritage, and Tom McDermott is a pianist who has mastered many of its styles.
Born in St. Louis in 1957, McDermott began piano lessons at age six. After eight years of lessons, he got caught up in the Scott Joplin revival and began playing and composing rags and early jazz pieces. This eventually led, in 1981, to an album of original ragtime music on the Stomp Off label, New Rags.
McDermott received a scholarship to St. Louis University and graduated in December 1978 with a B.A. in Art. Shortly after that he began his career as a free-lance journalist, writing mainly about music for a number of St. Louis newspapers. He was the jazz and rock critic for the morning paper, the Globe-Democrat, from 1980 through 1983. In 1982 he earned his master of music degree from Washington University in St. Louis.
In 1984, McDermott moved to New Orleans, lured there by a job at the World's Fair as well as a passionate interest in the music of Crescent City pianists like James Booker, Professor Longhair and Dr. John. He quickly found steady work, first as a solo pianist and later with jazz bands. From 1990 through 1995 he played with the Dukes of Dixieland, a period which many observers feel was the group's peak since the death in the '70s of the founding Assunto brothers. During this time the band recorded three albums (including one with jazz legend Danny Barker), toured Germany and South America, and played Carnegie Hall.