Carei F. Thomas

"Compositions and Concepts"

About the Author

Carei F. Thomas Biography:

Carei's career got its start in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he took piano lessons and was influenced by the culturally diverse Hill District. During his musical career, he changed the spelling of his name to Carei.

Carei's family moved to Chicago during his teenage years. While in high school, he formed a doo-wop group and continued expanding his artistry through an interest in spontaneous vocal composition. In 1959, Carei enrolled in Chicago's Roosevelt University.  Also that year, he chanced-met Gregory "Duke" Hall who was staying on Chicago's West Side where Carei lived.  This was a pivotal time in his development. "Duke" introduced him to elemental jazz piano voicings and four-part modern vocal harmony as used by the Hi Lo's and Four Freshmen. Carei was in the U.S. Army from 1961 to 1963 in Germany and when he returned, he enrolled in the Chicago Musical College.

In the late 1960's, Carei sat-in on piano with Dexter Gordon and Art Taylor in Paris, debuted his first significant jazz ensemble at Dunbar High School of which Ari Brown of the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble fame was a part, began an alliance with members of the internationally-known Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), sat-in with Archie Shepp at Mother Blues on Wells Street in "Old Town" Chicago, co-founded (with Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre) a group called "The Light," and gigged at Alice's Restaurant on Chicago's North Side with Marion Brown. During this time, Carei continued playing piano as a means to realize or hear "outside" the compositions going on "inside" his head ... soul ... self.

In 1972, Carei moved to Minneapolis and briefly studied composition at the University of Minnesota. He then began developing several controlled improvisational concepts he called "Brief Realities," all of which exemplified how he wanted to utilize composition in fresh ways (ever going back and forth chronologically in pendulum fashion) uniting that which was with the ever-present possibilities of "now time."  He also started doing residencies in educational settings, due to the encouragement of mentor Reginald Buckner.

In the 1980's, Carei worked on other evolutions of controlled improvisations, became interested in the healing aspects of sound and color, and in having his artform be more than a performer/spectator one with "down to earth" functionality. In the 1990's, Carei added to his work the "smoke and mirrors" of acoustical and electronic music considerations, which he called Phononomalies. He liked developing these tonal fabrics (sound designs) to use them as a canvas accommodating the collaborative endeavors of poetry, spoken work, dance, video, visual artforms, theatre, etc. along with their closest friend ... Silence.

In 1993, Carei became seriously ill with Guillain-Barr√© Syndrome and was hospitalized and in physical rehabilitation until 1995. However, he continued to create and has adapted his hands to produce chords much like the ones before he was paralyzed.