Thomas Francis “The Jazz Gene”

A TD Discovery Series Special Project.

For this unique performance, Thomas Francis Friends will perform two back-to-back shows that each explore what Francis calls "The Jazz Gene" - the underlying fundamentals that connect jazz to other Black music from the 20th century. The first show (7:00 pm) is an acoustic performance focusing on the aesthetics of Jazz from a post-Jazz perspective. The second show (9:00 pm) is an electric performance that focuses on Hip-Hop and its influences from the beginnings of Jazz. Tickets required for each show; purchase both shows in advance and get a $5 discount.

Featuring a stellar lineup of Toronto's finest musicians:

Thomas Francis, keys, music direction
David Maclean, bass
Marito Marques, drums
Alexis Bar, trumpet
Shelkah Francis, saxophone
Kristjan Bergey, saxophone
Marla Walters, vocals
Justin Bacchus, vocals
Carling Stephen, vocals


Thomas Francis is one of Toronto’s leading pianists, well-known for his extensive background in jazz and soul-based musics. He grew up in a house full of music, and has a shared a family lineage of musicianship. Thomas became sensitive to the structure of classical and standards while feeding off of the musicality and expression of Jazz, Soul, Latin and Funk musics. He began piano lessons at age five, making his way to jazz studies at age 8. At 16, Thomas was awarded Downbeat’s Outstanding Performance award, and in the summer of 2007 joined the Toronto All-Star Big Band. He completed his diploma at Humber College and went on to complete his B.F.A in Music at York University. In 2017, Thomas completed his Master of Arts in Composition, for which he wrote a thesis on the relationship between Jazz and Hip-Hop musics. Thomas can often be seen playing with Canadian icons such as Juno winning Jazz vocalist Kellylee Evans, Pop artist Dan Talevski, or R&B and Soul diva Elise LeGrow. He has performed and/or recorded with Tony Royster Jr. (Jay-Z), Alexis Baro (Gemini Award winning Jazz artist), Melanie Durrant (Juno nominated R&B artist), KC Roberts & The Live Revolution (Toronto Funk band), The Reklaws (Canadian Country duo), and George St. Kitts (Toronto Soul icon). He was also musical director for The Spandettes, a female-fronted, Toronto-based, Disco/R&B group, with whom he toured to Japan. Thomas can be seen in his element with his instrumental Hip-Hop/Jazz ensemble, Thomas Francis Friends.

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