||Growing up in the Midwest as the youngest kid in a musical family, Tom listened to music ranging from Bach to Duke Ellington to Jimi Hendrix to The Beatles. While on a family trip to New Orleans he heard a live jazz band and soon started playing the saxophone. As a teenager he would sneak out to clubs to hear people like John Lovell and to learn at the feet of the local masters of jazz, funk, fusion, and even classical music.
He pursued Creole music to try and figure out why New Orleans jazz was different than that of other areas of the country. He discovered that New Orleans had gotten a lot of its essence from Haiti and the French Antilles in the early 1800s, much like Miami was getting an injection from Cuba in the late 1970s. Attending the University of Miami School of Music seemed like a good way to learn at school by day and in a very exciting world by night.
The band moved to New York and he got the chance to play with just about every band from Haiti, including Tabou Combo, RAM, Ti Manno, and many others. Coincidentally, Jimmy Buffett was a big fan of Tabou Combo and, as a result, in 1994 Tom started touring as a Coral Reefer.
“Although there have been times when I thought I should put on a suit and get a ‘real’ job, it’s never come to that. I’ll get serious and go to an interview and then the phones rings with a new and better musical gig. One time it was Tabou Combo and the next it was Jimmy Buffett. I love it!”