Willie's professional career spans forty-five years of performing with such jazz greats as the Woody Herman Orchestra, the Al Belletto Sextet, the Slide Hampton Octet with Freddie Hubbard and George Coleman, the MJT+3 with Frank Strozier and Bob Cranshaw, singer Peggy Lee and many more.
In addition to his international performances, residencies, educational clinics and jazz research, Willie Thomas was active with the International Association of Jazz Educators and was inducted into it's Hall of Fame in 1994. His "Jazz Anyone" classroom series now published by Alfred Music is still used in schools throughout the country. He lives on Orcas Island, Washington and his Jazz Everyone site put's Willie Thomas back into action.
Enjoy his unique jazz language system as you Play and Learn with his online lesson series. To go right to the heart of the Jazz Everyone language system, start with Lesson 8 in the Intermediate Corner, where Willie introduces the Pentatonic Pairs.
Below you will find some of our favorite tunes from Willie's playing career.
Lover Man 1957 with Willie on trumpet, Al Belletto on Alto, Jimmy Guinn on T-bone, Tom Montgomery on drums, Skip Fawsett on bass, Freddie Crane on Piano.
Sky Blue 1960 with Willie Thomas on Trumpet, Bunky Green on Alto Sax,
Bobby Cranshaw on Bass, Walter Perkins on Drums and Chris Anderson on Piano.
The Trolly Song 1960 The MJT+3 with Willie Thomas on Trumpet, Frank Strozier on Alto Sax, Bobby Cranshaw on Bass, Walter Perkins on Drums and Harold Maybern on Piano.
Aon 1961 The MJT+3 with Willie Thomas on Trumpet, Frank Strozier on Alto Sax, Bobby Cranshaw on Bass, Walter Perkins on Drums and Harold Maybern on Piano.
Red Top 1962 The Slide Hampton Octet, solos by Slide Hampton on Trombone, George Coleman on Tenor Sax, and Willie Thomas on Trumpet.
Stella 1982 Recorded live at IAJE convention 1982. Willie Thomas on Trumpet, Bunky Green on Alto Sax, Nick Brignola on Bari Sax, Frank Pazzullo on Piano, Larry Green on Bass and Warrick Carter on Drums.
Willie plays a special concert with Nick Brignola, Fred Hersch, John Lockwood and Dave Calarco.