Department of Music
F.D. Hall Music Center
Jackson State University
JSU Box 17055
Jackson, MS 39217-0155

tel: +1 (601) 979-2141
fax: +1 (601) 979-0858


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Dr. Russell Thomas



Director of Jazz Studies


Russell Thomas, Jr., educator, saxophonist, bandleader; holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Jackson State University, the Master of Music Education degree from Michigan State University and the Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Utah and is currently Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Education at Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi.

Teaching experiences include positions at Alcorn State University, University of Utah, Snowbird Summer Music Camp, Visiting Professor – Mount Holyoke College, Adjunct Associate Professor of Music  (graduate faculty ) – University of Missouri-Kansas City  and guest lecturer and clinician for jazz education workshops and clinics throughout the United States.

The founder of the “Jazz In The Schools” program.  This program is dedicated to the teaching of  jazz history and jazz  improvisation utilizing  Orff  concepts in kindergarten through  secondary schools.  Dr.  Thomas has presented  “Jazz  In The Schools” residencies for children throughout the United States.  He  has presented  jazz education workshops at the International Association of Jazz Educators Conference, Music Educators National Conference,  Southern Arts Exchange Conference,  North American Saxophone Alliance Conference,  National Black Music Caucus Conference and the “ORFF 100” International Conference on Music and Dance in  Melbourne, Australia.

Received a Fulbright Group Project Abroad Fellowship in China to study traditional Chinese music and was selected as a participant in the GHANA (West Africa): Freedom Tour ‘97 (Alabama African-American Arts Alliance) to study the music and religion of West Africa.

Articles written by Dr. Thomas reflect his research interest in Jazz pedagogy through the development of educationally sound materials and methods for use in secondary schools and in colleges and universities. Listed below is a partial bibliographical listing:

"Understanding Basic Jazz Chord Symbols and Scale Relationships", The Mississippi Bandmaster, Mississippi Music, Inc., Spring, 1987.

“Bringing Jazz Into Mississippi Schools,” An Introduction To Jazz Education For Educators, Jazz Artists, and Presenters,  Southern Arts Federation, 1293  Peachtree  St., N.E. Suite 500, Atlanta, GA 30309. 1995. pp. 31 – 33.

“The Music Theory Course Syllabus”; Teacher’s Guide To The Advanced Placement Course In Music Theory, Advanced Placement Program, College Board, 45 Columbus Avenue, New York, 10023. 1998.

Additionally, Dr. Thomas has also published the following musical compositions:

Tiger Den Blues; Walrus Music Publishing Company, P. O. Box 1910, Pismo Beach, CA 93448.

WHATPRESSIONS, Walrus Music Publishing Company, P. O. Box 1910, Pismo Beach, CA 93448.

BLUES GROOVE, Walrus Music Publishing Company, P. O. Box 1910, Pismo Beach, CA 93448.

INCOGNITO, Walrus Music Publishing Company, P. O. Box 1910, Pismo Beach, CA 93448. 2004

THE SHOUT, Walrus Music Publishing Company, P. O. Box 1910, Pismo Beach, CA 93448. 2004

An outstanding saxophonist, he has performed with such diverse groups as Little Milton Blues Band, Clark Terry, Joe Henderson, Jim Coffin, Ken Chaney, Dizzy Gillespie, David Baker, The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, Bunky Green, Lionel Hampton Big Band, T & T Connection and is also the leader of the Russell Thomas Jazz Quartet.

Dr. Thomas toured Central America with the East Lansing  (Michigan) Music and Dance Troop, Europe with the American Youth Symphony and Chorus, Italy with The Virginia Nine Steppers and Guyana, South America with the Jackson State University Jazz Quintet representing the United States for the celebration of Guyana’s “150th Anniversary of Freedom and Emancipation.”  During his tour of Europe, he performed as guest soloist with the University of Utah Jazz Ensemble at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Montreux, Switzerland. Dr. Thomas has also performed solo classical/jazz recitals at the North America Saxophone Alliance Conference, National Black Caucus Conference, Jackson State University, the University of Mississippi, Alcorn State University, University of Southern Mississippi, University of Utah, Louisiana State University, The University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa and the University of Dayton.

Additionally, Dr. Thomas is a former member of the College Board Educational Testing Service (ETS) Advanced Test Development Committee for the Advanced Placement Examination in Music Theory, and a former faculty consultant for the College Board ETS Advancement Placement Examination in Music Theory.  Dr. Thomas also serves as Chairman of The International Association For Jazz Education / African American Jazz Caucus Historically Black Colleges and Universities Jazz Education Committee.

Dr. Thomas has received numerous honors and awards including the Governor’s Award For Excellence In The Arts (Music Education); Mississippi Humanities Teacher / Scholar Award; International Association for Jazz Education – Mississippi Unit Lifetime Achievement Award, In Recognition of Outstanding Service and Achievement in the Field of Jazz Education; Jackson State Outstanding Faculty Award; Founding Director’s Award, Alcorn State University Jazz Festival  – Silver Anniversary, Founded 1980; Mississippi Legislature Higher Education Achievement Award; the ArtsAlliance of Jackson Hinds County Arts  Partner in Education  Award; WLBT Television  Spirit of Mississippi Award; the Jackson State University School of Liberal Arts  Spotlight  on Scholars Award; the Black Jazz Music Caucus Leadership Award;  and the Phi Delta Kappa Outstanding Kappan of the Year Award.

Dr. Thomas is a true music and jazz educator and he is a member of the African American Jazz Caucus, Music Educator National Conference and the North America Saxophone Alliance.