Mardra & Reggie Thomas duo
Saturday, September 29, 3:00-4:00PM
MARDRA and REGGIE THOMAS tour the world, both together and separately, sharing an intimate, energetic, and soul-stirring style that swings. They can be found on concert stages and at jazz clubs, as well as at world-class jazz festivals. Their most recent joint release, Matters of the Heart, is available on iTunes and elsewhere.
Vocalist and actress MARDRA THOMAS’ music career was sparked in the St. Louis area when she performed for the opening of Dizzy Gillespie’s 70th Birthday Concert. Shortly thereafter, she found herself trading scat solos with world-class trumpeter Clark Terry while performing with the East St. Louis Lincoln Big Band, under the direction of renowned educator Ronald Carter. She went on to be featured in Unity Theatre’s Cotton Club Review as well as countless other productions, including Having Our Way; For Colored Girls; Menopause: The Musical; Lady Day at the Boston Bistro; Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill; Mama; and The Pocketbook Monologues. Most recently, she produced, directed, and performed Sandra Seaton’s Chicago Trilogy at the 2015 Atlanta Black Theatre Festival. Perhaps best known for her realistic portrayal of Billie Holiday in concert and on the theatrical stage, Thomas can also be heard on radio and TV spots, and on countless educational and music recordings.
Pianist/Organist REGGIE THOMAS is currently Coordinator of Jazz Studies at Northern Illinois University, after having spent three years as Professor of Jazz Piano at Michigan State University and twenty years as Professor of Music at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. He is on faculty for Carnegie Hall's Inaugural Jazz National Youth Orchestra and presents workshops for Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute. He is a current member of The Count Basie Orchestra and a rhythm section accompanist for the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competitions. He's been a long-time consultant/clinician for Jazz at Lincoln Center, working with the Essentially Ellington Program and Band Director Academy. Meanwhile, he's fronted his own groups, including the Mardra/Reggie Thomas Ensemble, and performed with other artists including Vincent Gardner, Will Matthews, Ann Hampton Callaway, and the Carl Allen/Rodney WhitakerProject.