Tom Arthurs is a trumpeter and composer for the 21st century – drawing honestly and infinitely from a dizzying range of influences. His music-making represents a rare beauty and creative depth, and he cites inspiration from John Taylor, Kenny Wheeler and Jimmy Guiffre, African and South American traditional music, Berlin’s Echtzeitmusik scene, as well as György Ligeti, Luc Ferrari and Morton Feldman. Aside from music, Tarkovsky, Godard, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Lau Tzu and Farid Ud-Din Attar remain deeply influential, as do much-cherished experiences of baroque music, the pygmies of Central Africa, Gal Costa, David Sylvian and Arto Lindsay.
Already by his mid-30s, news of Arthurs’ finesse, glowing sound and relentless creativity has spread far and wide, with New York City Jazz Record’s Thomas Conrad describing his playing as “continuously, beautifully unfamiliar”, and allaboutjazz’s John Kelman describing his improvisations as “simple but perfect”, demonstrating “an exacting perfection” and with “a harmon-muted tone that renders his playing as vulnerable as Miles Davis at his fragile best”.
Closer to home, Tom has been described as “a world-class improviser” by UK’s Jazzwise, “une révélation” by France’s Citizenjazz, and “der Glasbläser” (the glass-blower) by Germany’s SWR2.
Tom’s current project as composer and leader is the Tom Arthurs Trio, with Finnish drummer Markku Ounaskari and British pianist Richard Fairhurst (with whom Tom has been collaborating since 2003). He is equally at home with enthrallingly touching solo performances, and a range of collective improvised projects – including GLUE, QUAIRÓS, Pedesis and duos with Isambard Khroustaliov and Simon Vincent. Arthurs has been awarded composition commissions from the BBC/RPS, City of London Festival, BBC Proms, the Elias Quartet and the BBC Concert Orchestra, and has worked with folk musicians including The Unthanks and James Yorkston, also once contributing a sonic cameo to now-legendary BBC TV comedy The Mighty Boosh as ‘The Spirit of Jazz’.
Tom has performed and recorded with Ingrid Laubrock, Dine Doneff (Kostas Theodorou), Denis Badault, Maciej Obara, Julia Hülsmann and Theo Bleckmann, and has shared the stage with an incredible range of musicians, including John Surman, John Taylor, Kenny Wheeler, Benoît Delbecq, Jack DeJohnette, Régis Huby, Joanna MacGregor, Iain Ballamy, Thomas Strønen, Ignaz Schick, Jan Bang, Nicolas Masson, Julie Sassoon, Tom Rainey, Drew Gress, Rudi Mahall, Eddie Prévost, Willi Kellers and Steve Beresford. Arthurs also plays regularly with the very finest of his own generation – including Marc Schmolling, Almut Kühne, Miles Perkin, Philipp Gropper, Ronny Graupe and Wanja Slavin.
Tom was one of the first BBC New Generation Artists for jazz (2008-10), a participant in Serious’ career development schemes ‘Take Five’ and ‘Take Five Europe’, and has recorded for ECM, Ozella, Act, Intakt, Babel, Unit, Jazzwerkstatt, Creative Sources, Babel and Not Applicable. He has performed in festivals including Berlin, North Sea, Cheltenham, Moers, Victoriaville, Jonquieres, Bath, Jazzd’or (Berlin and Strasbourg), London, Jazz Jantar, Jazztopad and Jerusalem, and has been broadcast by the BBC, Radio France, SWR, WDR, RBB, ARD, P2 (Denmark) and Ö1 (Austria).
Tom holds a PhD from the University of Edinburgh (his work was an ethnographic approach to Berlin’s Improvised Music scene) and he has given lessons, lectures and workshops at Jazz Institut Berlin, University of Oxford, Hochschulübergreifende Zentrum Tanz Berlin (HZT/UdK), Universität Potsdam and International Jazz Platform (Lodz).
He currently leads the Jazz and Contemporary Music department at Bern University of the Arts, Switzerland.
(Citizen Jazz, France)
‘A master flugelhorn improviser’
(John Fordham, The Guardian, UK)
‘A world-class improviser’
‘A restlessly creative and experimental musician’
(The Jazz Mann, UK)
(Ssirus Pakzad, SWR2, Germany)
‘Simple but perfect. […] Arthurs’ contributions… demonstrate such an exacting perfection in both accompaniment and as a front line instrument that it’s a wonder he’s not better known. With a warm tone juxtaposed, at times, with a harmon-muted tone that renders his playing as vulnerable as Miles Davis at his fragile best…’
(John Kelman, allaboutjazz.com, Canada)
‘Arthurs often steals the show… and his own solos are continuously, beautifully unfamiliar’
(Tom Conrad, New York City Jazz Record, USA)
‘Arthurs is ingenious in the way he can make a line seem at once rhapsodically free and focused’
(Ivan Hewett, Daily Telegraph, UK)
‘An incredibly accomplished player. A virtuoso, his sound is fat-toned and fluid…maturity is clear from the outset… it’s as if he has nothing to prove…’
‘Er stößt mit dem Horn in die Stille hinein. Mit Treffsicherheit und Geschmeidigkeit verleiht Tom Arthurs… seinem Jazz durch Schönheit Bedeutung. Wie sein berühmter Kollege Kenny Wheeler bewegt er sich ohne Scheuklappen zwischen den Stilen und Genres… Musiker in ganz Europa wurden dadurch hellhörig…’
(Karl Lippegaus, Deutschlandfunk, Germany)
‘Der junge Tom Arthurs überzeugt als Lyriker mit nuanciertem, beherrschtem Ton.’
(Manfred Papst, NZZ am Sonntag, Switzerland)
‘A propos de pâte sonore… le trompettiste britannique Tom Arthurs, dont la magnifique sonorité vient d’emblée investir l’espace scénique.’
(Thierry Quenum, Jazzman, France)
‘Un trompettiste dont la sonorité chantante et le lyrisme naturel entrent idéalement en résonance avec ses aspirations au pur plaisir des sons.’
(M.B., Le Temps, Switzerland)
‘Arthurs… se descubrió como un poeta del sonido. Se recrea en la belleza de cada nota, como si cada una de ellas fuera la última y más importante. Todas tienen peso, y a la vez una ligereza asombrosa. Sobrevuela el paisaje sonoro con tacto, roza con levedad el suelo armónico y rítmico que le ofrece el trío y danza con él, un baile de sensualidad susurrada. La exuberancia de lo frágil.’
(Carlos Pérez Cruz, elclubdejazz.com, Spain)
‘Tom Arthurs took a handful of superb, austere Kenny Wheeler-like solos that were the highlights of the set.’
(Bruce Gallagher, Downtown Music Gallery, on a Miles Perkin Quartet concert in Victoriaville, Canada)
‘German pianist Julia Hülsmann gave – for my taste – the best performance of her already enormously varied career. In trumpet player Tom Arthurs, Hülsmann has found a wonderful counterpart for her poetic ingenuity.’
(Ulrich Olshausen, FAZ, Germany, reviewing the Julia Hülsmann Quartet at the Münster Festival)