Thaddeus Warren Tukes is a vibraphonist/composer/arranger/pianist & bandleader. A Chicago, Illinois native, Thaddeus began playing the piano at the age of 5, & quickly began inclusive percussion instruction w/the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association’s Percussion Scholarship Program, while attending Edgar Alan Poe Classical School. Although classically trained, he was inspired to play Jazz vibraphone after hearing vibraphonists Lionel Hampton & Stefon Harris. He played percussion instruments & piano in the Jazz Combo/Band/Orchestra/the Wind & Percussion ensembles at Chicago’s Whitney M. Young Magnet High School. In addition to performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City with the school’s band, he received superior ratings in solo competitions, & recognition as the best Illinois Jazz vibraphonist among high school competitors by the Illinois Music Education Association. Mr. Tukes graduated with a combined bachelor’s degree in Jazz piano & vibraphone studies at Northwestern University, the first Jazz vibraphone degree program at a non-conservatory university, where member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Victor Goines is Director of Jazz Studies. Tukes earned the honors of being a Ravinia Jazz Scholar, Jazz Institute of Chicago’s Kewitt-Wang Scholar, Luminarts Fellow, Vivian K Harsh Society awardee & Percussive Arts Society/Yamaha Terry Gibbs Vibraphone Scholarship recipient. As a former apprentice of Chicago’s Gallery 37/After School Matters Center for the Arts Jazz Band program during high school, Mr. Tukes is currently its director. In the summer of 2020, he and a group of local musicians formed the Chicago Freedom Ensemble, a music performance & social justice advocacy organization. Through the Chicago Freedom Ensemble, he has supported led protests, provided political and financial literacy for the local music community, conducted jam sessions throughout the city, & created a citywide network of young muticulturalinstrumentalists. Thaddeus has released 3 albums under his self-owned label, Vibetown Studios. He performs as a bandleader & special guest w/the Chicago Jazz Festival, Hyde Park Jazz Festival, South Side Jazz Coalition, Inc., & various Jazz clubs and ensembles throughout the country. He is a member of the Chicago Jazz Orchestra & the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. When not performing, he can be found teaching percussion ensembles at various elementary & high schools in the Chicagoland area.
I had the complete pleasure of hanging out a bit with Thaddeus to talk about the upcoming show at Cafe Coda on June 16th, as part of the Madison Jazz Festival. We talk show expectations here in Madison, bringing that Chicago sound wherever he goes and the importance of the give-back. Thaddeus gets to go deep into what the Chicago Freedom Ensemble means to him and the opportunities for building a better community that have come from their work, as well as being a bridge to showing the youth that it IS possible to get out, survive and flourish. On May 20th, Thaddeus had a dream come true, and this serves as a reminder that, YES, YOU CAN. This Cat Right Here.