Noteworthy press for Tom McDermott

“Mr. McDermott is not simply a follower of tradition or a repository of old tunes. He composes within his wide-ranging idiom with a knowledgeable feeling for his sources and a sense of humor.” -John S. Wilson, New York Times, 1986

“To single out one New Orleans jazz musician for being talented and likeable is absurd. But, not long after moving here, Margaret and I were at a night club with friends when Tom McDermott, a thin, sandy-haired man, shuffled up to our table…A few minutes later, McDermott took the stage, sat down at the piano, and set it on fire. He can do anything. We’ve heard him play ragtime, ‘trad jazz,’ swing, choros from Brazil, musettes from France, and any number of other genres. He doesn’t just play tunes, either. He writes his own. How many other American musicians are writing musettes, for heaven’s sake?…We have all of Tom’s CDs, so when we’re shuffling our iPod through our stereo, it seems that every third song is being played by Tom McDermott. That’s fine with us.” -Dan Baum, New, May 23, 2007

“Tom McDermott’s unique piano style can be described as New Orleans hijinks with a classical strut. His CD All the Keys adventures through a grab-bag of musical worlds with harmonic sophistication, wit and rhythmic energy. The result is original and fascinating.”–Stuart Isacoff, Piano Today

“****Four Stars. Tom McDermott has steeped himself in ragtime and early jazz styles for most of his career….Danza emphasizes what Jelly Roll Morton termed the ‘Spanish Tinge’ of early jazz, drawing from Brazilian choro and Argentine tango as much as the pre-Dixieland repertoire…..Uncluttered by horns and drums, the charm of trad jazz comes to light in this collection.”-Todd Jenkins, downbeat, January 2004

“Every Thursday night at Donna’s on Rampart Street, Tom McDermott plays the fastest, wildest ragtime, Brazilian and stride piano you’ve ever heard.”–Mark Childress, New York Times, September 4, 2005

“Mr. Christopher and Mr. McDermott qualify as traditional jazz musicians, and their enthusiastic following consists of traditional jazz fans. But there’s nothing conservative about what they played with their quintet…Whether they were playing Jelly Roll Morton’s ‘Mamanita’ or a Brazilian choro tune, they made the music feel fresh. The rickety quality that haunts so much early-jazz repertory was nowhere to be found.”–Nate Chinen,, May 2, 2008

“Choro has obvious connections with early New Orleans jazz and ragtime, and on an excellent new album, Choro do Norte, he makes the connections clear…Mr. McDermott’s ‘Santa Teresa’ and ‘Lizinha,’ with their bewitching changes, suggest that he’s deep inside this style of music; this is not some sort of dry re-creation.”–Ben Ratliff, NYTimes, July 17, 2005

“(Choro do Norte) is a delightful example of the crossroads that run deep in New Orleans….elegant performances that would have rocked the house at a Creole ball or a Storyville brothel.”-David Fricke, Rolling Stone, October 6, 2005

“Tom McDermott, a pianist and composer from St. Louis who settled in New Orleans more than 20 years ago, steeped himself in the local lore from the classical compositions of Louis Moreau Gottschalk to the Mardi Gras mambos of Professor Longhair. He also delved further into Latin America — to Argentine tango and to Brazilian choro, a cousin of ragtime — and elsewhere. “Bamboula” (Minky) is a compilation drawn largely from Mr. McDermott’s previous albums. The album is named after a Gottschalk melody that gets a tambourine-tapping choro-meets-traditional-jazz treatment; Mr. McDermott also thoroughly revamps two Scott Joplin pieces. But the other 13 ingenious miniatures, played by small groups that often include Evan Christopher on clarinet, are Mr. McDermott’s own: compositions that can simultaneously invoke Chopin and habanera or New Orleans slow drag and Parisian bal-musette, complete with accordion. The pianist and songwriter Van Dyke Parks chose the tracks, and they reflect his fondness for nostalgia gone surreal — seemingly antiquarian settings where strange twists and turns occur — and for chromatic rambles that end up making sense. Mr. McDermott’s time-warped parlor music turns out to be as wily as it is elegant.” -Jon Pareles, NYTimes, 1/12/14

“Tom McDermott mastered fearsome Jelly Roll Morton compositions like the aptly-titled “Finger Breaker”; Davell Crawford, even brawnier and wilder, flung tremolos and glissandos all over the place in a Booker tribute. They’re local luminaries who are too little known outside New Orleans.” -Jon Pareles, NYTimes, April 24, 2019.

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