Back on Top: Michael J Thomas

Special to Beachcomber


“Michael has done a beautiful emotional instrumental version of that gorgeous song. My buddy Carl Griffin, the great record executive, sent it to me a couple weeks ago and I just fell in love with it…”

– Dave Koz, The Dave Koz Lounge on SiriusXM Watercolors



Nearly two years after emerging as a #1 national recording artist with his hit single “Baby Coffee,” Michael J Thomas has hit the pole position on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Songs chart again with his latest single, a powerhouse urban jazz re-imagining of “I’ll Never Love Again,” the end theme from Bradley Cooper’s film A Star Is Born.


“It’s such a beautifully written song that I connected with the moment my music biz mentor Carl Griffin introduced me to it,” he says. “I knew we had something very special. The response at radio was tremendous, and I’m excited that it also caught the attention of my sax hero, Dave Koz. I’m very proud of what my entire team accomplished.”


“Baby Coffee,” from his Sony Music distributed album Driven, reached #1 on three national radio charts, including Billboard (where it stayed at the top for four consecutive weeks), USA Today and Smooth Jazz Top 20 with Allen Kepler.


In addition to receiving terrestrial radio airplay across the globe, Mr. Thomas’ music has been featured on Sirius XM’s Watercolors and The Weather Channel, and in the Warner Bros. film Contagion starring Matt Damon and Laurence Fishburne. He has recorded with two-time Grammy® winning producer Paul Brown and is currently a Grammy voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Though surrounded by country music while growing up in the small town of Cecilia, Kentucky, Mr. Thomas’ parents filled his childhood with a steady stream of legendary R&B and pop artists who would later become muses—Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson, and Prince.


Mr. Thomas studied piano at the age of seven and switched to saxophone in seventh grade, shortly after discovering contemporary jazz artists like Yellowjackets and Dave Grusin on a Technics demo disc that came with a stereo his dad purchased.


During a high school jazz band rehearsal one late evening, all of his ear training and emulation of other saxophonists finally came together. The band was performing a run-through of Jimi Hendrix’ “Purple Haze” that had a transcribed alto sax solo that young Michael deviated from.


“For some reason it all came together in an instant while taking the solo lead,” he says. “It finally clicked, and I could improvise. The band and the director were so impressed that they stopped playing the song and clapped for me. It was really at that moment that my musical journey began.”



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