Jeremy Thomas is a musical genius. He is also an incredible human being with an uncommon humility and heart for God. When Culturocity set out at the beginning of this year to produce the first in a series of documentaries chronicling the developmental process of extraordinary artists, Jeremy Thomas was a no-brainer to be our initial subject. It stood to reason that such a multifaceted artist must have quite a remarkable story behind the maturation of his gifts to such a great degree. Boy, were we correct. Still, we had no idea what a magnificent revelation was about to unfold.
Incidentally, the Jeremy Thomas Quartet was about to celebrate its tenth anniversary on Valentine’s Day with a commemorative concert at the UCO Jazz Lab, the site of its first public performance ten years earlier to the day. We thought it would be ideal to capture the gathering to get a taste of where it all started for the group. Before we did that, however, we decided to visit the place where Jeremy himself was molded and shaped into the man, minister and musician he is today: Oklahoma City’s Greater Concord Missionary Baptist Church, where Jeremy’s father, Pastor LaVerne S. Thomas, is the senior pastor.
The result is an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at Jeremy’s life, conveyed firsthand by Jeremy as well as his parents, and a special treat as Jeremy sheds on both the keys and the drums in the same church where he played music in his youth. Jeremy shares with us who some of his greatest personal influences have been, including Joey DeFrancesco, David Sanborn and many other legendary musicians, as well as, of course, his gospel minister dad.
From the church, we went to the UCO Jazz Lab to bring you exclusive footage from the tenth anniversary concert, featuring The Jeremy Thomas Quartet themselves, along with extraordinary vocalists such as Thaddeus Johnson, Chanda Graham, Leah Joelle McClish and Brittany Jackson. The celebration was a night to remember as well as a sign of great things yet to come.
The title of the documentary series is “In the Lab.” As the intro explains: “An artist is the result of an experiment, a painstaking process to reach a level of excellence and perfection of one’s craft. We see the finished product, but often fail to realize that each artist was refined, shaped and developed … in the lab.” The “lab” refers to the laborious process one undergoes as he or she develops and blooms into a complete person and artist.
For each artist, the lab means something different. For Jeremy Thomas, his lab was the church, the loving home shared with his parents and siblings, and countless hours of practice and tutelage received from seasoned musicians who took him under their wing. On Tuesday, August 26th, we will grant you full unrestricted access to the lab. For now, here’s a teaser:
Video production: Arjaybi’s Concepts, LLC
Article photo credits: Richard Sharp