Assistant Professor, Co-chair Jazz Studies
Dan Thomas is a dedicated performer and educator. Thomas holds the position as associate director of jazz studies at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, where he serves as the co-chair of the Division of Jazz Studies, is the coordinator of assessment, and is the coordinator of the UMKC Jazz Camp and the UMKC Jazz Festival, alongside his friend and colleague Bobby Watson. Thomas holds performing artist/educator endorsements with Yamaha, Vandoren, Locoparasaxo, WeWood, and RooPads. Thomas’s regular teaching responsibilities include applied jazz studies, jazz improvisation, jazz history, jazz pedagogy, jazz combo, and the 11 O’Clock Jazz Band (which received an invitation to perform at the JEN Convention and an outstanding performance acknowledgment in 2012). Thomas has served as a woodwind and jazz studies specialist, instrumental music instructor, as well as vocal music instructor in the public school systems in Washington, Missouri, and Kansas. He has served on the faculty at Kansas City’s Penn Valley Community College and Rockhurst University. Thomas is a three-time recipient of the Who’s Who Among America’s Educator’s Award, regularly presenting master classes and workshops with a deep love for educating tomorrow’s jazz future. The vice president for education and curriculum development for the Monk Institute is quoted as saying that Thomas is “...eminent, experienced, and effective...” It has been said that “Dan, in addition to being a killer player, is a dedicated pedagogue who breaks down and demystifies the nuts and bolts of improvisation in a way that no other teacher I have encountered in my 7 years of collegiate study can.” (Michael Shults, former student and professor of music UW-Eau Claire) Dan’s students can be seen performing and teaching at the highest level around the world. His students have appeared multiple times at the Kennedy Center as part of Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead Program, and at the Port Townsend Jazz Workshops, Monterey Jazz Festival, and JEN, and contribute to the jazz fabric throughout the United States and abroad.
Although a regular in the Kansas City jazz scene, Thomas performs throughout the United States, Canada and overseas in a variety of settings covering the spectrum of the jazz idiom. He is a frequent clinician and guest artist at high school and university jazz festivals. His Dan Thomas Quintet CDs, City Scope and Musical Sanctuary, and his Quartet release Voyage, are receiving critical acclaim and were acknowledged on the national airplay charts.
Dan Thomas is a Yamaha Performing Artist and plays and endorses Vandoren products.