Thomas Mullins, a 2015 graduate of Northwest Vista College, will enter the UTSA music program with a scholarship in composition this fall. A student of classical guitarist Dan Smith, he auditioned on guitar. He studies trombone and improvisation with Armin Marmolejo of Palo Alto College. As a composer, Mullins received a Jack Stone Award for New Music in 2013, while at Northwest Vista College. Thomas Mullins is the 2015 A-JAM delegate to the prestigious IASJ international jazz meeting, to be held this year in Lisbon, Portugal.
Top 10 Tunes to Know in Jazz (IASJ 2000, Paris)
Highlights of this year's recording session were performances of two of the "IASJ Top 10 Tunes to Know in Jazz," "There is No Greater Love" and "Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise."
"What are you experiencing now--that you didn't have before you entered the program--in your musical journey?" Alvarez asked Mullins. "Someone to push me into the scenarios that I need to be in, in order to grow as a musician; as a jazz musician, but--overall--as a musician. Going to the open jam sessions, going to the master classes; things I'd probably shy away from if given the opportunity. But Katchie is very good at pushing, so it just puts you in the scene, makes you get your hands dirty, do the heavy lifting. You get up there, do the best you can, take your licks, go home to the drawing board, and try and come back stronger the next day."
The conversation touched on aesthetics, with Mullins contributing heartfelt and profound thoughts. Asked who he was listening to lately he replied, "I've gotten into Thelonious Monk a lot more than I had been prior. But I've been straying more toward vocalists, like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone. Something about…they've got this beautiful melancholy that really draws me in. That's one of the aspects of music I really enjoy. Sometimes more upbeat music seems to me a bit false, like it's got something to hide. But those melancholy songs, they're revealed, they're laying everything out, they're vulnerable. It's fragile. I really enjoy that kind of music...I want to try to encapsuslate that style."
Eric Ineke masterclass with Odie Wallace (IASJ 2013, Denmark)
"It was life changing. I was just telling some of the guys before we started this interview that, going over there, I got my butt kicked all up and down the streets of Denmark--musically of course--but it was a great learning experience. If it hadn't have been for that, I don't think I'd be where I am today, with the knowledge that I have today and the connections, the networking. It was just a big combination of playing, learning, meeting people, and then you get to take that home with you, even if you felt you didn't do 100%. I've felt, ever since I got home--ever since I hit the state soil again--that it has been nonstop for me, trying to be better than I was when I was over there. Just having that--being part of that experience alone--has been the most important thing to me. It was the catalyst for where I am today."
As of this writing, Odie Wallace is on full scholarship in the jazz music program at St. Mary's University, where he studies electric bass with Jim Kalson, drums and percussion with Joe Caploe, and plays in small and large jazz ensembles. He auditioned on drums, bass, and percussion. The faculty of St. Mary's reported that his was among the best auditions they'd ever had. Wallace performs currently as a leader and side person in various groups and settings in and out of town. Keep up the good work!