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Ken Thomson is a Brooklyn-based clarinetist, saxophonist, and composer. In demand as a composer and freelancer in many settings, he moves quickly between genres and scenes, bringing a fiery intensity and emotional commitment to every musical situation. He plays saxophone and writes for the punk/jazz band Gutbucket, with whom he has toured internationally to 19 countries and 32 states over nine years, and released CDs for Knitting Factory, Enja, NRW and Cantaloupe Records. He also is a member of the internationally-touring punk/cabaret band World/Inferno Friendship Society, nextgeneration chamber orchestra Signal (conducted by Brad Lubman), world-jazz group Fire in July, allimprovised No Net Trio, and was a co-founder of punk/chamber composer-performer collective Anti-Social Music. He is a frequent collaborator with new-composed music groups Alarm Will Sound (on forthcoming Nonesuch Records debut), International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), So Percussion, and more. He is a faculty member at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival and Institute. He is a Selmer Artist, and endorses Sibelius software. As a composer, he has been commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra, Bang on a Can, the True/False Film Festival, and others, and has received awards from ASCAP and Meet the Composer. The New York Times wrote of his work Wait Your Turn for the American Composers Orchestra upon its debut at Carnegie Hall in October 2007: “The concert ended on a high note.... the music offered a density worthy of the closing bars of a Led Zeppelin epic;” and of his work seasonal.disorder for the Bang on a Can All-Stars, “a virtuoso piece... a texture laced with power chords, screaming clarinet lines and cluster-laden piano writing. In the end it is sheer madness, in a good, thrillingly visceral way.” The Philadelphia Inquirer also noted: “Thomson's Wait Your Turn is as visceral as music can be.” His through-composed rescoring of the 22-minute 1936 British film “Night Mail” was called “a masterful reimagining of an old classic” by Indiewire.com upon its debut in March 2007 at the True/False Film Festival. His recent works include for Gutbucket+Ethel (string quartet), premiered at the Cologne Triennale 2007 and Jazz Saalfelden Festival 2006. His 2006 clarinet quintet “How to Play” has been played in the US and Australia by multiple ensembles. His arrangement of Aphex Twin's "Gwely Mernans" for Alarm Will Sound was recorded on their acclaimed CD Acoustica (Cantaloupe Music), premiered live at the Lincoln Center Festival 2005, and later choreographed by Chicago's Hubbard Street Dance Company. He has had two works released on CD by Anti-Social Music, including "Song" (ASM Sings the Great American Songbook/Peacock Recordings), and an arrangement of Bob Massey's "The Mountain" (The Nitrate Hymnal/Lujo Records). In the July/August 2006 issue of the German-Dutch Sonic magazine, Ken was the “Top Interview,” garnering a four-page feature in which critic Ulrich Steinmetzger remarked about his "intense performances" which "left behind astounded audiences... [who] witnessed him blow raw energy from the stage like few others can." The Boston Globe has called his improvisation "dazzling;" and Time Out New York has called him a "manic sax dervish."
Bass clarinet Privilege to low C"I live in New York City, where I get to be a different musician every day. I play in some of the world's top classical/new music ensembles, tour across the US and Europe with my punk/jazz group, play in rock bands at festivals, and work in the studio quite frequently. I love Selmer instruments because they allow me to be expressive in whatever genre I need to be in, while maintaining their core qualities that I'm looking for - superb intonation and beautiful sound."