Tom Hall (baritone & tenor saxophones & music educator) has been an active professional musician since his teens when he played a weekly gig at the Ebony Inn with Ohio Hung Jury, a Washington, DC funk band. He moved to Boston in 1976 to attend New England Conservatory, where he studied with Joe Allard, Jaki Byard, Jimmy Guiffre, George Russell, and Ernie Wilkins.
It was during these years he first studied free improvisation. He was the co-founder of Ensemble Garuda, whose members included percussionist Sam Bennett, trumpeter Frank London, and Brazilian cellist Jaques Morelenbaum. This group met for years, with the sole purpose of an intensive exploration of improvisation.
In 1979, shortly before graduation from NEC, he co-founded Your Neighborhood Saxophone Quartet (1979-1997) with Steve Adams, Allan Chase, and Circe Miller (other members of the group over the years included Ben Schachter, Joel Springer, Douglas Yates and Bob Zung). Over the next 18 years, Your Neighborhood Saxophone Quartet toured the United States and Europe and recorded five CDs. In addition to playing at every conceivable venue in New England, YNSQ also appeared at The Boston Globe Jazz Festival, Bang on the Can Festival (NY, NY), and the Moers Music Festival (Germany), among others.
During the 1980's, along with his work with YNSQ, he recorded and toured with many original groups, playing very different styles of music. Hall toured the world and recorded with Volo-Volo (1980-1987), a popular Haitian band, as well as playing in many of the New England area’s finest Latin orchestras. He was a longstanding member of Mark Harvey's avante-garde big band Aardvark Jazz Orchestra. He led and fronted his own rap group (1988), walked the bar in blues bands, performed with the Bentmen and recorded with avante-garde rockers Birdsongs of the Mezesoic, and singer-songwriter Geoff Bartley.
In the 1990's, Hall continued playing, touring, and recording in a variety of musical styles. He was a member of Bob Nieske's jazz quintet, Wolf Soup (1992-1999), and played with blues/jazz keyboardist Bruce Katz in the Bruce Katz Band (1994-1999). During this time, he also played and recorded with singer-songwriter April Hall, was a member of The Jane Gang (country swing) and Soul Kitchen (classic R&B), recorded with R&B giant Mighty Sam McLain, and was the arranger and horn section leader on CD’s by rocker Dennis Brennan. (Discography)
In 1997, Hall developed a course on free improvisation for Brandeis University, and has been teaching and directing the Brandeis Improvisation Collective ever since, as well as being the saxophone instructor for Brandeis University. He has also conducted Master Classes at New England Conservatory (Boston, MA), and at the Royal Conservatory and Rotterdam Conservatory in The Netherlands.
Since 1999, he has been a frequent contributor to Club d'Elf, a dub-trance-groove group led by bassist Mike Rivard, whose rotating cast includes John Medeski, DJ Logic, Mat Maneri, Duke Levine, Reeves Gabrels, Joe Maneri, Dave Tronzo, Kenwood Dennard, and Brahim Fribgane, and appears on several live CDs.
In 2001, he designed and led Session I, a workshop for professional improvisers, culminating in a series of concerts in the New England area, with participating musicians Brian Carpenter, Ken Field, Jeff Song, Jane Wong, Alec Redfearn, Grant Smith and David Tronzo. In 2002 he led Session II, a workshop designed to study groove related improvisation. From 2002-2005, Tom was a curator for the Cultural Construction Music Series. He expanded “The Sessions” from 2009-2011 to an improvised music series that brought together musicians from all styles of music and turned them loose in a free improvisatory setting.
Starting in 2012, Tom took and entire year to create and host ImprovLive 365, a daily web-series dedicated to exploring, documenting, and sharing the improvisational, spontaneous creativity of life that produced 365 online episodes, improvisatory public performances, and community based educational programs. In 2015 he was the artistic director of the Brandeis Improv Festival, a three day festival of performances, panel discussions, and workshops, featuring a diverse range of mediums and artistic genres, from free jazz legend Milford Graves to pioneer turntablist Mister Rourke; fine art demonstrations to new technology playshops.
In addition to his ongoing teaching and group performances, he is the author of, “Free Improvisation: A Practical Guide”, and is currently collaborating with April Hall on a new book and video series called "Whole Life Arts".