A native of Chicago, Illinois, Tom Boras started studying piano at age 7, and in order to play in the band, he added saxophone and clarinet at age 9. Discovering jazz at a very early age, Tom had become a featured soloist with the Chicago Suburban High School Jazz Ensemble.
Being serious about music at a young age, Boras said, "I knew that music was everything to me. I used to pretend to conduct Stravinsky recordings and could not believe that the music I was hearing could possibly be put down on paper and written by one man. It just seemed impossible… the musical energy and ideas that I was experiencing could be produced by a human being; the idea of it just seemed God-like." |
In l962, Tom was given a full scholarship to the Stan Kenton Clinics at Indiana University where he met composers Morgan Powell and Dee Barton. Both Morgan and Dee recommended that he study both performance and composition at North Texas State University. Boras stated, "I heard the first NT Lab Band recording when I was a senior in high school and knew this was the place for me. The music these guys were writing for big band reminded me of contemporary twentieth century music that Varese, Sessions, Schoenberg and Webern had written, yet it had a groove.” While at North Texas State University, Tom played baritone saxophone, bass clarinet and flute in the North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band for three years and recorded three albums with the band in 1967, 68 and 69. Two of his arrangements, Good-bye Pork-pie Hat by Charles Mingus and Ol’ Five Spot by Charles Lloyd were recorded on these albums.
Upon graduation from North Texas, Tom went on the road as a performer and arranger with an R&B band doing the nightclub circuits of Chicago, IL, Grand Rapids, MI, Indianapolis, IN and Madison, WI. A call to play on Woody Herman’s band was his next stint for ten months and he recorded one album with Woody’s Band, Light My Fire in October of 1970. Tom was forced to quit the Herman Band when he was drafted into the U.S. Army where he served as a performer, composer and arranger with the prestigious N.O.R.A.D. Band of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
After an honorable discharge from the service, Tom used the G.I. Bill and settled in Boston to study with composer/theorist George Russell. In 1973, he completed a Master of Music degree in composition from the New England Conservatory of Music. During his time at the Conservatory, Tom taught and performed with the faculty at both the Conservatory and the Berklee College of Music. He performed with Alan Dawson, Tom McKinley, Jaki Byard, Ray Santisi, Herb Pomeroy, Ted Pease, Andy McGee and the Paul Fontaine/Jimmy Mosher Orchestra.
Tom moved to New York in July of 1976 and in the same year received a National Endowment for the Arts Award in Jazz Composition. He also received a full scholarship to attend Columbia University where he received his doctorate in composition in 1986.
Tom has written and recorded for the Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Orchestra, Dave Liebman, the Buddy Rich Orchestra and the Dave Stahl Big Band. He served as composer/arranger for New York city-based Servisound Music Productions for three years, producing music for radio and television advertising and films. In addition, he performed extensively on recording dates, Broadway theatre orchestras and in local jazz venues.
In 1985, Tom was appointed director of the New York University Jazz and Contemporary Music Studies program. As his career progressed in the ensuing years, Boras maintained a professional performance and compositional career in addition to his academic post. He worked as a free-lance performer in many different ensembles, and wrote the music for one off-Broadway play, Jack’s Last Ride, based on the life of beat author and poet, Jack Kerouac. In August of 2001, he completed the last movement of One Couple, a three-movement work for two pianos.
Describing his best project, Tom stated, “One of the best projects I have ever done was producing my first CD, Three Houses. Working with some of the finest musicians in the world and having the legendary Helen Keane co-producing my CD was a real treat. This is a great time in my career, and I am delighted to have this CD released and distributed by MMC Recordings". With a recording as diverse and pleasing to listen to as Three Houses, it’s easy to see why.
In February 2003, Tom completed the manuscript for his upcoming book, Jazz Composition and Arranging. The publishing date is Fall 2004.