The 18th and Vine District received a taste of UMKC talent on Thursday, opening The Blue Room’s stage to Associate Director of Jazz Studies Dan Thomas’ jazz band, Voyage. The performance featured and promoted the premiere of the band’s namesake album.
The stage is a familiar place for Thomas, who has created a number of original works during his career. However, recording and releasing an album was the first milestone for his recent musical collaboration.
“This is the first album for Voyage. This record differs from my others, as I am a little older and I like to think wiser,” Thomas said. “This music is the first quartet record I have done and I was writing from a different place, having come through a rather serious health issue.”The quartet features Thomas , Wayne Hawkins on piano, Forest Stewart on bass and Mike Warren on drums. These artists came together to collaborate by Thomas’ suggestion in 2009. Each member offered his own compositions for the quartet to perform and record.
“This band was born at my home. These musicians are all guys I knew and cared for, who all had an interest in writing and creating,” Thomas said.
The initial collaboration proved to be more than just a group of hopeful friends well-equipped with instruments. As the group started examining its potential, things began to fall into place.
“The unifier for this quartet is that everyone has eclectic musical interests. It is evident in the diversity of tunes, and journeys of expression made on the recording,” Thomas said, acknowledging the interesting and special characteristics of Voyage.
Each track is attributed to the creative minds of the individual performers who created them, such as “New Moon” from Warren and “Shock and Awe” from Thomas.
Each piece adds a new dimension and flavor Voyage’s debut album, a benefit from merging each member’s different musical stylings. Thomas said subgenres such as Groove, Hard Bop and Avant-Garde are represented throughout the album.
“I don’t have a favorite. The tunes are varied enough that they carry their own weight for particular moods,” Thomas said, commending each performer for adding a personal twist to Voyage’s overall sound.
Thomas’s website, danthomasjazz.com, highlights his accomplishments as a leader, teacher and founding member of numerous projects. An adjunct website features information specifically about Voyage, including bios, booking information and a schedule of upcoming events.
Voyage intends to advertise its recent debut album release, utilizing connections each member has made through years of professional music experience.