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Caribbean

Published on May 30th, 2013 | by Peter Ray Blood Trinidad Guardian Newspapers

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Celebrating jazz – Show to honour Fitzroy Coleman

Sean Thomas is one of the country’s best-known drummers and has been head of the Jazz Alliance of T&T (Jatt) for the past six years. Recalls Thomas, considered a music child prodigy: “A friend of mine, Dave Surajdeen, put the idea in my head to form a jazz entity back in 2007, and we thought that we’d form an organisation which would spearhead the art form. Basically, this is how Jatt came into being. What I initially wanted to do was create something that would bring musicians together.”

Thomas had his earliest beginnings in music at the age of seven. “I began as a pannist, playing with 3rd Dimension, located in Tunapuna, and led by my father Leroy Thomas,” he revealed. “Dad took my elder brother, Roger, and I to the panyard because he was in need of players. This led to my learning about jazz through my dad. From a young age, I began playing with jazz greats like Clive Zanda and Michael Boothman. I also got the chance to play in Panorama with Phase II, Exodus, and Pandemonium steel orchestras, as well as in the classical Pan is Beautiful music festival.”

While pan was Thomas’ initial instrument of choice, fate decided that he’d become a drummer. He said: “The drumming thing actually began in the panyard as 3rd Dimension needed a drummer and there was some difficulty in finding one. So, I went on the drum set to start keeping time for the band, and the rest is history.   “Through drums I began playing with the Ruiz Brothers. My eyes were then opened to the Theolonius Monk Institute of Jazz in the New England Conservatory in Boston, to where I was awarded a two-year scholarship to study with icons like Wynton Marsalis, Herbie Hancock and Max Roach, to name a few.”

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