Tom Varner

Tom Varner is an internationally renowned jazz French horn player and a passionate, inventive and witty composer. He also breaks new ground with his writing for small-group Jazz. He has composed and led many ensembles, from small trios to large bands over the years. Nate Chinen (NY Times/Philadelphia City Paper 2000) stated that Varner is a Mingus-like talent for weaving complex counter-melodies in an approach that’s more soulful and acrobatic than acrobatic. This allows for countless opportunities to improvise, which results in an amazing ensemble writing and playing. Sometimes Tom’s music is influenced by his teachers Jaki Byard and George Russell. He also played in Steve Lacy’s octet during the 90s. His other love, Miles Davis and Julius Watkins, can be heard in Tom’s music. Tom’s latest project, Heaven and Hell for tentet was presented at the Seattle Art Museum and is now available on the OmniTone label. Second Communion is Tom’s 11th album. It’s a tribute to Don Cherry, 60’s jazz pioneer. Tom’s composition, “Strident”, from his 9th CD Swimming won the 2000 Jazz Composers Association Julius Hemphill Composition Award. Varner’s eighth CD, The Window Up Above (American Songs 1770-1998) (New World), was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered. Tom was awarded residencies at Centrum, Blue Mountain, Centrum and Civitella arts colonies. He also received grants from the NEA and 4Culture as well as the Jack Straw Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation/Chamber Music America New Works grant. He is a finalist in the DownBeat Critics Poll. Varner was a performer at the Vienna Konzerthaus (Parallel Worlds Festival), the Seixal/Lisbon Moers Groningen and Rotterdam Jazz Festivals. He also made numerous appearances in New York with sidemen Steve Wilson and Ed Jackson, Tony Malaby and Ellery Eskelin. Sideman Tom has performed in North and South America as well as Europe, Japan and Russia with such leaders like Reggie Workman and Steve Lacy, Bobby Previte and John Zorn. Tom composed the music for “Saints and Sinners”, and he also plays on more than 70 other CDs. Tom, his family and friends moved to Seattle in 2005 after living 26 years in New York City. Tom has been an active participant in the rich Pacific Northwest scene since 2005. He has performed at the Vancouver, Earshot and Bumbershoot festivals as well as the Seattle Art Museum, Tula’s and the Good Shepherd Chapel as a leader and sideman with many greats like Francois Houle (sax), Mark Taylor (sax), Eric Barber and Wayne Horvitz. At Cornish College of the Arts, he is an adjunct horn instructor.

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