John Thomas


Since 1973, John Thomas has lived in Los Angeles, touring and/or recording as lead trumpet for Count Basie, Chick Corea, Woody Herman, Maria Schneider, Bill Holman, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams and many others. His playing is featured on hundreds of albums, television series and motion pictures such as the movie Ray.

John Thomas is a Professor of Jazz Studies at USC and is a Senior Specialist for the Fulbright Scholarship Board, traveling to Peru, Thailand, Croatia, Italy, Austria and South Africa presenting trumpet workshops and music seminars. His instructional trumpet DVD, Trumpet Secrets Revealed, is distributed by Hal Leonard, Inc.

Professional experience

Honors, Awards & Competitions:

  • Recepient of Fulbright’s Senior Specialist Award
  • State Department Specialist Grant-Croatia
  • Member of the President’s Council, University of North Texas
  • Voted all-time first trumpet by University of North Texas Alumni, two times
  • Board member IAJE California Unit
  • Board of Governors nomination for NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
  • Public Commendation from councilman Nate Holden for Jazz Outreach
  • Outstanding Graduate Student, Jazz Studies, USC
  • Phi Kappa Lambda
  • Innovative Teaching Award Grant

Music Festivals:

  • International Association of Jazz Educators
  • International Trumpet Guild
  • California Music Educators Conference


Selected recordings

  • My Spanish Heart– Chick Corea (Grammy)
  • Music Magic– Chick Corea (Grammy)
  • King of the Blues–BB King (Grammy)
  • Mad Hatter– Chick Corea (Grammy Nomination
  • A Tribute to Ethel Waters—Duke Ellington Orchestra, under the direction of Mercer Ellington (Grammy Nominee)
  • The Raven Speaks –Woody Herman Orchestra
  • The Best of Count Basie–Count Basie Orchestra
  • The Best of the Count Basie Big Band—Count Basie Orchestra
  • I Told You So–Count Basie Orchestra
  • Dynamite!–Louie Bellson Orchestra
  • Live At Ronnie Scott’s in London—Louie Bellson Orchestra
  • The Best of Return to Forever– Chick Corea
  • Return to Forever Live– Chick Corea
  • RTF The Complete Concert– Chick Corea
  • Larger Than Life–Freddie King
  • Switch—Claire Fischer
  • True To Life—Ray Charles


Digital Video Disc

  • Fall 2007
    “Trumpet Secrets Revealed, by John Thomas”
    An instructional trumpet video with a thirty-page booklet, distributed by Hal Leonard Periodicals
  • Spring 2006
    “Is The Lead Trumpet Important?”, Jazz Educators Journal
  • Spring 2005
    “The Lead Trumpet Player”, International Trumpet Guild
  • Fall 1996
    “Play Concerts Off Campus”, IAJE California Unit News Letter
  • Fall 1991
    “Transcribing Comes of Age”, Jazz Educators Journal

Academic degrees

Studied with:

Don Jacoby, John Haynie, Bob Lanese, Jimmy Stamp, Carmine Caruso, Boyde Hood