Serious Business


At age 19, guitarist John D. Thomas was enlisted as a sideman by both Jimmy McGriff and Joe Henderson for recordings and concerts. In the following years he worked with some of the greatest names in jazz, including the AACM Big Band, Stanton Davis, Carter Jefferson, Andrew Cyrille, Kenny Drew, John Lewis, Harold Ousley, and Chet Baker. After his 1977 move to Europe, he toured the Middle East, Africa, and the Far East, performing extensively with Charles Tolliver (1980-90), Joe Henderson, Art Taylor, Dizzy Gillespie, Malachi Thompson, Sonny Stitt, Tony Scott, and many others. He joined the Art Taylor Quartet in 1978 and performed with it until 1984. Birth of the Cool trombonist Mike Zwerin enlisted John for two tours in Africa in 1980 and '81. Mr. Thomas has also toured and performed at festivals, concerts, and clubs throughout Europe and Africa with his own bands: John Thomas and Lifeforce, Serious Business, John Thomas Quartet, and Extremely Serious Business. In 1980 he received the endorsement of the National Endowments "Arts America" program, on whose active list he remained for ten years. In 1986 his group Extremely Serious Business traveled to sub-Saharan Africa under the auspices of this U.S. State Department program. Since his return to the United States in 1991, he has appeared with his own quartet, trio, and an updated version of Extremely Serious Business that performs his own compositions. This is the first time that this 1985 album has been released on CD. It is a significant album in Mr. Thomas's discography as the first use on record of a prototype pickup system invented by Professor Dr. Ernst Nourney of the Fachhochschule, Nord-Rhein West-Falen in Düsseldorf, Germany. Dr. Nourney's innovative device features a "hexcentric pickup" -- one pickup for each individual string -- converting pitch to voltage, and an exciter pickup used to create a magnetic field to induce vibration of each string independently. This means the player could not only hold any note without further electronic manipulation, but even play the instrument with one hand if desired. John D. Thomas: all guitars; Gerd Breuer: drums; Claude Gouiffé: bass (tracks 1-3); Bert Thompson: bass (tracks 4-5); Markus Becker: keyboards; Christoph Erbstösser: DX7 (tracks 4-5).