Joshua Thomson started playing saxophone at the age of 9 years old. He comes from a musical family. His grandmother is a multi instrumentalist and a brilliant vocalist who spent a lot of time around the Motown music scene in the early 1970’s and 80’s. She was friends with many of the Temptations, the Four Tops and other artists throughout Detroit. She has always been a huge inspiration to Joshua and instilled the value of music throughout his family. Joshua was encouraged early on to pursue music. His mother played flute and his father played trumpet. The choice to choose saxophone always seemed natural to him. He didn’t become serious about pursuing the saxophone until he was 17.
The first horn he ever owned was a 90’s model Vito student saxophone. He then switched to his grandfathers horn which is a 57’ Elkhart Buescher sax, which he still has. He currently plays an 822, the Phil Woods model alto saxophone.
He was fortunate to work with some very interesting people over the last 10 years. He currently leads the project known as “Atlas Major” in Austin, Texas. It is a very rewarding creative outlet for him. The band incorporates sounds from Africa, Spain, and India. He has recently had the privilege of helping found Austin’s first world music orchestra called the “Austin Global Orchestra”.
In Detroit he also played with “Aashram” which he credits to really developing his “chops”. It was through this project that he met Mikhal Caldwell. Mikhal’s philosophical lessons pertaining to life and music took us to a higher level as people first, then as musicians. His lessons still echo through his mind to this day.
Joshua has a background in straight ahead jazz, funk, blues, progressive rock and jazz fusion. He really enjoys playing in different genres of music. Genres are merely a way of trying to quantify what a specific sound is. He loves blurring the borders between genres and going above and beyond them.
The entire culture of Detroit has had an impact on him his entire life and still does That would include the Motown scene and the phenomenal jazz legends who have played there. Seeing Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and Al Green play for the people of Detroit has deeply influenced me.
Joshua studied Sociology at the University of Michigan and he has always had a curiosity for people, new cultures, international travel and art. His fire and passion for music comes from the intense family he came from. The diverse social area that he grew up in has always influenced his creative process and continues to do so.
His goals as a musician are to develop creatively and expand his musical horizons even further. He wants to continue to collaborate with other musicians and artists who inspire him. He would truly love to tour internationally. It is a dream of his to be able to experience this wonderful world through the gift of music.
Joshua came to The Genre Project by meeting Bob Sworaski through his mentor Mikhal Caldwell, “may his soul rest in peace”. Bob and Joshua fell out of touch for a couple of years but recently reconnected this past summer. “It is truly an honor to be a part of “The Genre Project”. There are some phenomenally talented players on this record and it is a privilege to be involved. The international community that Mikhal worked so hard to create continues to live on through our musical collaborations. The Genre Project is a big part of the international fusion movement. I really appreciate all of the creative and administrative work that Bob has put into this project. His relentless dedication to this project is very inspiring to me.
What gives Joshua the most satisfaction playing in the studio or live? “The most inspiring thing about working in the studio as a side man is helping the composers achieve their creative goals. Playing live is the ultimate shared experience between the audience and the performers”. He has always loved performing in front of an audience. For Joshua the most satisfaction comes from shared moments of spontaneity that often seems to manifest itself through live improvisation.
You can contact Joshua at
Click on picture to visit Atlas Major