The Kennedy Center

Tom Teasley


Tom Teasley, described in the Washington Post as a "percussionist in the widest and most exuberant sense of the word", performs in symphonic orchestras, jazz groups & solo percussion performances around the world. Teasley presents over 100 concerts yearly of The Drum: Ancient Traditions Today, a solo performance and video release, which traces the use of percussion through various hand drums, traditional percussion, and electronics.

Teasley came by his world music chops honestly, studying ethnic percussion with Glen Velez, Trichy Sankaran, Yacub Addy and Frank Malabe. Tom holds a Master of Music degree from The Catholic University of America. He attended Peabody Conservatory and received the Bachelor of Music degree from the American University. A versatile and accomplished percussionist, Tom is constantly striving to extend the boundaries of existing musical styles and incorporate these diverse influences in his music. His multiple musical interests have instilled in him the need to create new sounds by combining timeless musical practices with contemporary influences.

In his acclaimed solo presentation, The Drum: Ancient Traditions Today, Teasley traces the history of percussion from ancient instruments to today's cutting edge electronic techniques. Sounds of indigenous instruments such as frame drums, shakers, kalimba and djembe drum, as well as traditional jazz instruments like drumset and vibraphone, combine with state-of-the-art electronic percussion in Tom’s unique voice. Bridging the gap between musical concerts and performance art, Tom is much in demand as a soloist and collaborator.

The focus of a feature article in Modern Drummer Magazine, the most widely circulated percussion magazine in the world, Tom is described as " a creative bonanza... give Tom a bass drum, a snare drum and a djembe & he'll give you part Stravinsky, part Art Blakey. No instrument has limitation for him...the way he glides over his kit, hand drums and electronics, it looks simple and free. Just when you think you've got him figured out, he pulls another rabbit out of the hat. Of course, that's what makes good art."... ( Burce Wittet, Modern Drummer Magazine, Oct. 99) In the same year, Tom was selected as a featured presenter for PASIC (Percussive Arts Society International Convention), the largest and most prestigious percussion event in the world. Tom served as percussion consultant, artistic collaborator and soloist for a newly commissioned millennium project performed by the National Symphony in June 2000. The work entitled "DC Citypiece", includes elements of go-go and hip-hop and features exotic percussion, including frame drums and shakers. Broadcast nationally on NPR radio July 4, “DC Citypiece” is the subject of a feature length documentary film. Tom is a 2000 artist-in-residence at the Kreeger Museum in Washington, DC. He collaborates with a visual artist to present a series of concerts in DC public schools.

In addition to his solo work, Tom performs and records with classical orchestral and chamber groups, serves as a freelance percussionist / vibist with jazz groups, and contributes a variety of drumset styles for theatrical shows and popular musical groups. He performs in major concert venues throughout the country, including such prestigious venues as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts where he was an artist-in-residence. As percussionist / composer for Word Beat, Tom collaborates with singer / actor Charles Williams in a critically-acclaimed and truly inspiring presentation of original music and spoken word. In 1998, Word Beat released both a video and cd, Poetry, Prose, Percussion And Song. Since 1998, Word Beat has been chosen by the Virginia Commission for the Arts for inclusion in its touring roster. He has played percussion as a member of the United States Navy Band. Tom has also played drumset and percussion for blues / roots artist Catfish Hodge, touring nationally and making two recordings with this artistic legend; he's also shared the stage with national treasures Professor Longhair, Muddy Waters and Bonnie Raitt.

Tom's third solo release for the T & T Label, Global Standard Time, features innovative arrangements of jazz standards with world rhythmic influences. It received extensive air play and intensive media coverage. Tom's second solo release for the T & T Label, Time Travel, is an eclectic mix of mainstream and contemporary jazz, world music, music technology and original compositions. Both Time Travel and Tom's debut recording Balancing Act have received critical acclaim from media and radio stations throughout the world. Tom has performed and composed music for TV, jingles and film soundtracks, and been featured in numerous live radio broadcasts, including several for NPR.

Tom is an endorser / clinician for Yamaha. He is also endorsed by Vic Firth Drumsticks, Sabian Cymbals, Wright Hand Drum Company, Remo, Mike Balter Mallets, Mountain Rythym, Rhythm Tech and K & K Sound Systems. He serves on the faculties of American University, the University of the District of Columbia and the Levine School of Music where he is chairs the newly created percussion department. He is a frequent lecturer / clinician on the subjects of jazz improvisation, jazz history, percussion instruments and techniques, and the interaction of acoustic and electronic performance. Recent performances include Penn State University Campuses, early music festivals in Bolzano Italy and Regensburg Germany, Percussive Arts Society, Young Audiences Inc., MUSE Machine of Dayton Ohio and Spartanburg, South Carolina,Southern Ohio Arts Museum, SUNY, Brooklyn Music School, Richmond Jazz Society, Appel Farms Performing Arts Center, The Augusta Heritage Center, Princeton and American Universities. Teasley has been chosen for inclusion in the Artist Roster for the Artists in Education program sponsored by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the Lincoln Center Institute for Aesthetic.

Watch Past Performances

Video 6/16/2016: Tom Teasley Trio

As part of the 2016 DC Jazz Festival, the Tom Teasley Trio presents an evening of unique and engaging percussive music.

Presented as part of the 2016 DC Jazz Festival Dis is ‘Da Drum series.

Tom Teasley