Tom McDermott

The past work of Tom McDermott, one of New Orleans’ premiere piano players and composers is artfully anthologized on Bamboula, a collection curated by the renowned composer/arranger/performer Van Dyke Parks. Parks also contributes liner notes. Bamboula, draws from five of McDermott’s previous albums, mainly out-of -print and includes a previously unreleased track. Bamboula, is being released September 24 by Minky Records.

Parks, a long-time admirer enthuses: “This album: Flexibly fluent, somehow of one cloth. As a composer, Tom’s compositions each read like a good short story, filled with motifs, anecdotes and suspended sub-plots that all resolve in conclusion. Take it as an ample sampler to the world that lies beyond, in the hands of a master.”

McDermott grew up in St. Louis, where he earned a Masters’ Degree in Music, wrote for the morning paper, and soaked up the sounds of ragtime and traditional jazz that flourished in that city throughout the 60s and 70s. In 1984, spurred by his love of James Booker, Professor Longhair and Dr. John, he moved to New Orleans, a trip enabled by a gig at the World’s Fair.

For much of the 1990s he was a Duke of Dixieland, which took him to Europe, Asia, South America and all over the States (including Carnegie Hall); he recorded several albums with the Dukes, including a tribute to pianist/composer Jelly Roll Morton featuring the great Danny Barker (one of the prime movers of the modern brass band revival). In 1995, after arranging a tune for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s tribute to Morton, Jelly, he co-founded the modern brass band the New Orleans Nightcrawlers. During his stay with the band they recorded three albums.

Tom has written for the theatre (the Obie-award-winning off-Broadway show, “Nita and Zita”), appeared in films and on TV. Tom had a continuing role playing himself in the HBO series “Treme,” and his music was featured in the soundtrack on an ongoing basis. His music has also been used frequently on NPR. A group he co-led with clarinetist Evan Christopher, the Danza Quartet, appeared on NPR’s New Year’s Eve show, “Toast of the Nation,” on 2008-2009.

He has recorded 10 albums as a leader, and there is more info on these recordings in the CDs section. Included on these 10 discs are more than 80 original tunes.

Tom is known for his eclecticism as just about the only New Orleans pianist whose repertoire stretches from the mid-19th-century compositions of Louis Moreau Gottschalk modern day piano-driven funk. He also has a great love of Brazilian music (14 trips there so far), the Beatles, European classical music, early Duke Ellington, and much more.

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