Tom Kohl

tom kohl

Jazz pianist Tom Kohl began his jazz explorations at the age of 11 when some family friends gave the Kohl household a grand piano. Initially self taught, Kohl felt an instant affinity with harmony and improvisation. His older brother (jazz guitarist Frank Kohl) gave him a copy of the LP “Facing You” by Keith Jarrett. “When I first listened to the music on that LP it was like my musical world exploded” Kohl remembers “The harmony, energy and folksy nature of that music made me want to speak the language of jazz.” Eventually studying with pianist Larry Agovino, Kohl began to develop a richly harmonic style that was deeply steeped in the history of jazz. Growing up in the NYC metropolitan area allowed Kohl access to jazz clubs such as The Village Vanguard, Sweet Basil’s, Fat Tuesday’s and The Village Gate to name a few. Kohl recalls, “ When I was in high school I would regularly go into the city to see Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, McCoy Tyner and all sorts of incredible musicians.”

From 1980 to 1985 Kohl attended UMass Amherst. Studying with saxophonists Archie Shepp and Marion Brown as well as gospel musician and scholar Horace Clarence Boyer. The rich jazz environment at UMass prepared Kohl well to eventually relocate back to the NYC area in 1985. For the next few years Kohl played and recorded extensively at clubs, concert venues and recording studios in the Northeast.  Kohl worked with many great musicians and ensembles including: bassists Stephen Roane, Steve LaSpina, Bill Crow, Mark Johnson, drummer Jon Doty, guitarist (and brother) Frank Kohl, the Fred Smith Quartet and the Michelle LeBlanc Quintet.

Kohl’s compositions and ensemble skills are showcased in his 4 CDs as a leader: Voice of Choice (1993),  Three Windows (1998), Twain (2001) and Dances with the Sun (2017). The spirit of Kohl’s recorded works is summed up well by Eric Nemeyer of Jazz Improvization Magazine describing the music on Three Windows “ This independently released recording stands light years ahead of innumerable self-released jazz albums that flood the market. Kohl possesses the experience and the substance and demonstrates he has a lot of meaningful things to say”.