Ralph Thomas (2)
He was born in Chicago in 1950, into a musical family. The son of a Black American father and Native American mother, his ethnological roots run very deep and influence his music enormously. His versatility and proficiency are not confined to his principal instruments of saxophone and flute, but span a variety of musical explorations from vibraphone, percussion, and bagpipes, to a myriad of ethnic instruments.
The Early Years
1969: awarded a scholarship to the Chicago Conservatory of Music, where he became a member of the Chicago AACM, studying with Phil Cohran and Richard Muhal Abrams, and recording with Chicago blues legends Howling Wolf and Mighty Joe Young on the Cadet label.
1974: relocated to Los Angeles, where he was signed on by Motown Records and 20th Century Fox. He recorded with celebrated artists Marvin Gaye, Jermaine Jackson, Smokey Robinson and Rick James, while continuing to nurture his own personal style.
1980: recorded and produced his internationally acclaimed album, 'Eastern Standard Time', released on the Zebra Jazz label. It has recently been re-released.
1981: recorded with Quincy Jones Productions on movie soundtracks such as 'Roots' and 'The Color Purple'.
1985: his love of Afro-Caribbean rhythms took him to the Caribbean islands where he toured with various bands and recorded with well known reggae artists Augustus Pablo and Gregory Isaac, capturing the spirit of the island sound.
1986: moved to New York City where he embraced Samba and Salsa, performing with Johnny Colon, Don Cherry, Olatungi and Sun Ra.
1993: relocated to Paris, where he studied Ethnomusicology at the 'Musee d'Homme'. He did a musical tour of Europe with Mra Oma and recorded with Sara Alexandra, Mra Oma, and Ranaivo-Rajaona Hery, as well as performing with Sunny Murray, Archie Shepp, and Trilok Gurtu.
2000: drawn to the roots music of the far east prompted him to apply for the Arts International Award Travel Study, Paris, which took him to Nepal, India and Japan.
2002: started MusArt Project in Paris and toured in the US, Canada and Japan.
2004: moved to the south of France, St. Afrique, where he curated an art gallery, continued MusArt and formed the Ralph Thomas Group.
2003-2007: numerous trips to Asia
2007: relocated to Chiang Mai, Thailand
2007-2010: worked with Issan band Boonhugsa (God bless you). During this period Ralph immersed himself in the music of Northern Thailand, mixing the melodies of the Issan culture with jazz, familiarizing himself and experimenting on many of the traditional instruments.
2012: starts MusArt Project in Chiang Mai. Located in the old city, the gallery is set up as a multimedia interactive creative space, providing a venue for workshops in all areas of the arts, and improv performances monthly.