Tom Teasley, described in the Washington Post as “a percussionist in the widest and most exuberant sense of the word,” maintains a unique career as a solo percussionist, composer and collaborator. A 2010 Helen Hayes Theater Award recipient for outstanding sound design, Tom tours frequently throughout the world performing and presenting clinics for the instrument companies he endorses including Yamaha, Vic Firth, Sabian, Remo, Latin Percussion and others. A three-time recipient of a Fulbright-Hayes grant for performances in the Middle East, Tom collaborated with indigenous musicians and gave historic performances in Saudi Arabia, the West Bank and Jerusalem. He has been an artist-in-residence at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and has collaborated with the National Symphony as both a soloist and composer. As an international collaborator he has performed by invitation in Europe and South America. Tom earned the 2006 Artist-of-the-year award from Young Audiences of Virginia for his creative and educational presentations. His seven CDs have been greeted with international airplay and acclaim. He has been the subject of feature articles in both “Modern Drummer” and “Drum!” magazines.
Almost from the outset, Tom Teasley has brought percussion up from the background, profoundly demonstrating its strength in solo performance. He is “a percussionist in the widest and most exuberant sense” says the Washington Post, calling his contribution to D.C.’s Contemporary Music Forum “the evening’s dazzler." He’s a “creative bonanza,” claims Bruce Wittet in Modern Drummer Magazine; “... give Tom a bass drum, a snare drum and a djembé and he'll give you part Stravinsky, part Art Blakey.”
He started with jazz, blues, funk, pop and European classical music. Early in his career he toured with the United States Navy Band. He recorded and performed nationally with blues artist Catfish Hodge and jazz legend Professor Longhair. A focus on ethnic percussion led to studies with Glen Velez, Trichy Sankaran, Yacub Addy, Frank Malabe, and jazz study with celebrated drummer Joe Morello. Emerging with virtuoso skill over a wide range of instruments and musical styles, the Kennedy Center selected him as artist-in-residence, and he recorded nine performances there. He has also served as artist-in-residence at the Kreeger Museum of Art, collaborating in multi-media presentations with visual artists. He collaborated with the National Symphony Orchestra as both a composer and soloist in Robert Kapalow’s “Citypiece” which was aired on NPR and was the subject of a documentary for public television. He has developed several highly regarded workshops and clinics. Young Audiences of Virginia named him Artist of the Year for his in-school programs across the state.
His lightening-speed agility and fluency with regional musical ideas, from tribal traditions to electronics, give him the means to take listeners just about anywhere. His signature approach is to isolate a few key musical components and recombine them in new ways. He'll take instrument or a rhythm pattern in its original style -- like blues or jazz -- and play it alongside traditional sounds from Brazil, the Middle East, ancient Mesopotamia, Persia, Africa, or India. Another approach is to use a technique original to an indigenous instrument (such as a doumbek), and perform it on an instrument from another place and time (such as on a hand drum synthesizer). Limitless possibilities emerge for new music and creative cultural interaction.
Tom continues to explore instruments and playing techniques, sharing them in workshops and clinics. PASIC (the Percussion Arts Society International Convention), broke with tradition to feature his presentations three times at the world’s largest gathering of percussionists. His innovative fusion of jazz, world and western classical music has earned him endorsements deals with Cooperman Drum, L.P. Music, Vic Firth sticks, Remo, Sabian Cymbals and Yamaha Concert Percussion.
As percussionist/composer for Word-Beat (www.word-beat.com), Tom collaborates with singer/actor Charles Williams in a critically acclaimed and inspiring presentation of original music and spoken word. They combine history’s greatest words about justice, peace, and life with music inspired by the writer’s culture of origin. Poetry and prose from Harlem, the Civil Rights Movement, ancient Africa, India, and the Middle East converge with the energy of jazz, folk, and modern music. Word-Beat’s two CDs have garnered national airplay on radio, high praise among music critics. Word-Beat’s first recording, Poetry, Prose, Percussion and Song. was hailed as one of the most important of its kind at the 2007 International Association for Jazz Education conference. IAJE singled out Word-Beat as a leading collaboration in the integration of poetry and music, calling Word-Beat's recordings "must-haves." The duo’s second CD, The Soul Dances, was nominated for the Washington Area Music Association’s Best World Music Release award.
Currently Tom performs in the U.S. and Europe, teaches in a private studio, presents master classes and school programs, and holds a number of residencies. As artist-in-residence at the Levine School of Music in Washington, D.C., many of his concerts and master classes are open to the public. A prolific composer and ensemble leader, he continues developing new pieces and recordings, with a ninth (Painting Time) just released. He enjoys airplay on TV, film, and National Public Radio.