The 2014 winner of the UK prestigious Paul Hamlyn Composers award Pat Thomas started playing at the age of 8 and studied classical music and played reggae. He began playing jazz at sixteen after seeing Oscar Peterson on television then listened to snatches of jazz on the radio before, in 1979, playing his first serious improvised gigs. From 1986 he played with Ghosts which was Pete McPhail and Matt Lewis.
In addition to programming his keyboards, Pat Thomas also utilises prerecorded tapes. He told Chris Blackford (1991), ‘As far as the tapes are concerned I’ll probably just sit in front of the TV and tape whatever’s going on and so some editing afterward to decide what might be useful. …But I don’t actually put a label on each tape saying what’s on there, so when I come to use them I don’t know what I’m going to be playing. That obviously prevents me from setting things up. I pick them at random and see what happens. So I’m just as surprised as anybody else at what comes out’.
In 1988 he was awarded an Arts Council Jazz Bursary to write three new electroacoustic compositions for his ten-piece ensemble, Monads: Roger Turner and Matt Lewis, percussion; Pete McPhail, WX7 wind synthesizer; Neil Palmer, turntables; Phil Minton, voice; Phil Durrant, violin; Marcio Mattos, bass; Jon Corbett, trumpet; Geoff Searle, drum machines. The intention was to feature different aspects of electronics using improvisation so, for example, one piece – Dialogue – featured Pete McPhail and Neil Palmer, another concentrated on the interaction of percussionists and drum machines, and a third piece had Phil Minton and Jon Corbett improvising with a computer. The pieces were performed at the Crawley Outside-In Festival of new music in 1989.
Pat Thomas was invited by Derek Bailey to play in Company Week in 1990 and 1991 and he also took part in the Ist International Symposium for Free Improvisation in Bremen with the guitarist. He has been a member of the Tony Oxley Quartet (documented on Incus CD 15) and played in Oxley’s Angular Apron along with Larry Stabbins, Manfred Schoof and Sirone at the 8th Ruhr Jazz Meeting and in the percussionist’s Celebration Orchestra. He plays with Lol Coxhill in a range of combinations from duo to being a member of ‘Before my time’, is a member of Mike Cooper‘s Continental Drift, and he has a well established duo with percussionist Mark Sanders and a trio with Steve Beresford and Francine Luce. In 1992 Pat Thomas formed the quartet Scatter with Phil Minton, Roger Turner and Dave Tucker; funded by the Arts Council they toured the UK in 1993 and again at the beginning of 1997.
On the ‘Festival circuit’, Pat Thomas has appeared at: the Young Improvisors Festival at the Korzo Theatre, Den Haag (with Jim O’Rourke, Mats Gustafsson and Alexander Frangenheim); Angelica 95 in Bologna, Italy; the Stuttgart 5th Festival of Improvised Music 96 (with Fred Frith, Shelly Hirsch, Carlos Zingaro and others); and the 3rd International Festival 96 in Budapest (with Evan Parker, Phil Minton, John Russell and Roger Turner).
Some examples of Compositions
Blackford, Chris (1991), Pat Thomas, piano & electronics. Rubberneck, no. 9, pp. 11-13. Interviewed while appearing in Company Week 1991.
Thomas, Pat (1993), Islam’s contribution to jazz and improvised musics. Rubberneck, no. 15, pp. 8-13.
- 1988?, Bandes original du journal de Spirou, nato 1715/1774. One track on compilation album with Mike Cooper’s Continental Drift.
- 1989, Monads, Reel Estate RECD9002.
- 1991, Company 91 volume 1, Incus CD 16.
- 1991, Company 91 volume 2, Incus CD 17.
- 1991, Company 91 volume 3, Incus CD 18.
- 1992, Vol pour Sydney (aller), nato 53001. Two pieces with Lol Coxhill on Sydney Bechet compilation album.
- 1992, The Tony Oxley Quartet Incus CD15.
- 1992?, Severe test . Geoff Searle Systems Collusion
- 1993, Quartet Jazzwerkstatt JW033. Tony Oxley/Derek Bailey/Pat Thomas/Matt Wand.
- 1993, Halim, nato DK 018 53031.2. Duo with Lol Coxhill.
- 1994, One night in Glasgow, Scatter 03:CD. Duo with Lol Coxhill.
- 1994?, Giganti Reptilicus Destructo Beam, Scatter 04:CD. With The XIII Ghosts.
- 1994, The enchanted messenger, Soul Note 121284. The Tony Oxley Celebration Orchestra.
- 1994/1995, Island songs, nato 777 707. Mike Cooper.
- 1994?, United mutations . With Thurston Moore on compilation CD.
- 1994?, Lo recordings . With Geoff Searle, Pete McPhail, Neil Palmer, Richard Chapman.
- 1995, Les films de ma ville, nato 112033. One track on compilation CD.
- 1995, Thomas Borgmann’s Orkestra Kith ‘n Kin, Cadence Jazz Records CJR 1081.
- 1995, AngelicA 1995, A1 007. With Lol Coxhill’s Before my time and other groupings.
- 1996, Sweethearts in a drugstore, Ninth World Music NWM 010.
- 1997, Remembering, newjazz.com NJC 003. Solo jungle CD.
- 1997, The cricket in my life Leo Records CD LR 256. Track with Eugene Chadbourne’s Insect and Western.
- 1997, Hellington Country Intakt CD 052. Eugene Chadbourne.
- 1997, And Rectangle REC-S. And: Derek Bailey/Pat Thomas/Steve Noble.
- 1997, Improvisation, MP97/ORF 15. Track by And on this concert CD.
- 1997/99, Spectral soprano, Emanem 4204. One duo and one quartet with Lol Coxhill on compilation CD.
- 1998, EEE, Paratactile PLE1103-2. Powerfield.
- 1998, Cue sheets II, Tzadik 7513. Steve Beresford; one track featuring Thomas.
- 1998/9, Hard edge, Wire editions 9002-2. Rhys Chatham.
- 1999, Braced & framed, Acta 13. Lunge.
- 1999, Second edition, Ninth World Music NWM 021. Sweethearts in a drugstore.
- 1999, Nur, Emanem 4046. Solo.
- 1999, Floating phantoms, aIlIl001. Tony Oxley/The B.I.M.P. Quartet.
- 1999, 25th NWM, Ninth World Music NWM0 25 CD. One track on compilation CD.
- 2000, The hearing continues…, Emanem 4203. London Improvisers Orchestra.
- 2000, Relay eight, 2:13 Music CD011.
- 2000, Certain questions, Unit UTR 4134. Charlotte Hug/Pat Thomas duo.
- 2000, Field recordings, FMR CD199-0206. Powerfield.
- 2000, The three b’s, fencing flatworm ff019. Beck/Hession/Thomas.
- 2000, London Musicians’ Collective …the first 25 years, LMC Res8.2CD/Res9.1CD. One track of Steve Noble’s 4tet.
- 2001, Listen… and tell me what it was, SOFA 506. No spaghetti edition.
- 2001, 3 pianos, Emanem 4064. Beresford/Thomas/Weston.
- 2001?, Barbarian, Incus CDR 5. And.
- 2001, Freedom of the city 2001: large groups, Emanem 4206. London Improvisers Orchestra.
- 2001, Freedom of the city 2001: small groups, Emanem 4205.
- 2000/02, Strong language, Emanem 4079. Lunge.
- 2001, Out to launch, Emanem 4086. Lol Coxhill and the Unlaunched Orchestra.
- 2001, More together than alone, Emanem 4136. Lol Coxhill.
- 2002, Zahir, Rossbin RS 011. Hiss.
- 2002, Pasta variations, SOFA 509. No spaghetti edition.
- 2002, Freedom of the city 2002, Emanem 4090. London Improvisers Orchestra.
- 2002, London duos and trios, Intakt CD 081. Hans Koch.
- 2003, Views of Mancini, FMRCD263-0808. The Mancini Project.
- 2003, Freedom of the city 2003: small groups, Emanem 4212.
- 2003, Responses, reproduction & reality: freedom of the city 2003-4, Emanem 4110. London Improvisers Orchestra.
- 2003, Pianoforte, SLAMCD 257. Tippett/Riley/Grew/Thomas.
- 2003, November Music 2003, November Music NM 007. Tobias Delius group track on compilation CD.
- 2003, Improvisations for George Riste, psi 08.06. London Improvisers Orchestra.
- 2005/2007, Plays the music of Derek Bailey & Thelonious Monk, FMRCD259-0508.
- 2009, About, Treader TRD015. Hayward/John Coxon/Thomas/Taylor.
- 2009, Wazifa, psi 10.04. Thomas/Strid/Thomas.