Renowned Performer and Educator to Lead Jazz Studies at NIU
We are extremely pleased to announce Reginald "Reggie" Thomas has accepted the position as Coordinator of the internationally recognized Northern Illinois University School of Music's Jazz Studies program. He succeeds the esteemed jazz educator Ronald Carter, who is retiring after 20 years at NIU.
Thomas comes to NIU from the Michigan State University College of Music, where he has served as Professor of Jazz Piano. Prior to his position at MSU, he was Professor of Jazz Studies at Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville and was SIUE's Director of Black Studies. He has performed internationally in Canada, Italy, Poland, Senegal, and England, and his recordings include work with Clay Jenkins, Kim Richmond, Clark Terry, and Mike Vax, as well as recordings as a leader and with his jazz vocalist wife, Mardra. Thomas is Co-Author with Wynton Marsalis and others on the important jazz teachers' resource Teaching Music through Performance in Jazz, (GIA Publications). Reggie Thomas is also a consultant/clinician for Jazz at Lincoln Center for the past decade, working with the Essentially Ellington Program and the Band Director Academy. Most recently he presented "Creating Music Through Improvisation" at the Carnegie Hall Music Educator's Workshop (NY). He remains an active clinician/adjudicator at colleges throughout the country and at conventions of the International Association for Jazz Educators (IAJE) and its successor, the Jazz Education Network (JEN). Thomas has directed All State Jazz Bands, Combos and Jazz Choirs in Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, South Dakota and Tennessee and directed the first ever Missouri All-College Jazz Band. He has served on summer jazz faculties across the country and abroad including the IAJE Teacher Training Institute, the Birch Creek Music Center, the Eastman School of Music Summer Jazz Camp, the Summer Jazz Academy in Chodziez, Poland, the Barbican Center in London, and the University of Trinidad and Tobago. Reggie Thomas earned his MM in Music Education from SIUE and a BA in Music Education from Western Illinois University.
Reggie Thomas' vision statement explained, "A successful program will be based upon the guiding principles of tradition, a standard of excellence, a discipline worthy of scholarly pursuit and production of art that contributes to and builds community." The search committee comprised of jazz faculty chaired by School of Music Assistant Director Janet Hathaway observed that Thomas' strong artistic vision was evident in his interaction with NIU students during the interview, and that his approach to developing students as "scholar-performers" was aptly demonstrated, effectively engaging students in the classroom and rehearsal room. Students excitedly shared he was an inspiring teacher. Paul Bauer, Director of the School of Music, said, "The search committee did a terrific job evaluating a competitive pool of candidates. CVPA Dean Richard Holly and I agree with the students and search committee that Reggie Thomas was the clear choice to serve as a teacher, colleague, and leader of the NIU Jazz Studies program on its continuing upward trajectory."
Thomas looks forward to leading the NIU jazz program into its next stage of evolution, and today responded, "I am excited to get started!"