Tom Canning is a keyboardist, writer, producer and Grammy-nominated arranger. He was born and raised in Rochester, New York, and grew up in a musical household. His father was a professor of Music Theory and Composition at the Eastman School of Music; his mother was a professional church vocal soloist. Tom studied classical piano for ten years at Eastman, and was also continually drawn to an eclectic blend of music including J.S.Bach, Ray Charles, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and the roots of R&B and Rock&Roll. This wide range of interest informed the development of his subsequent musical career.
After studying at both Berklee School of Music in Boston and North Texas State University, Tom eventually settled in Los Angeles. He began performing and recording with such artists as John Klemmer, Delbert McClinton, Freddie King and T-Bone Burnett. A major turning point came in 1974 when he met then-unsigned Al Jarreau. For several years, Tom worked as Al's Musical Director, and eventually his co-writer and co-producer. Extensive international touring and recording led to seven albums, multi-platinum sales and numerous Grammy awards. Tom co-wrote such songs as "Breakin' Away", "Never Givin' Up", and "Roof Garden". He and Al collaborated again later on Jarreau's 2003 album All I Got with the song "Lost and Found", a duet with Joe Cocker.
Notable professional events include:
Writing and producing "The Oh Of Pleasure" with Ray Lynch, which appears on Ray's platinum New Age CD, Deep Breakfast. This piece has been licensed many times for a wide variety of film, television and commercial outlets;
Musical Director for the televised variety show Thicke Of The Night. House band included Alan Pasqua, Kevin Dukes, Dennis Belfield, Mike Baird and Gary Herbig. Staff writers/comedians Richard Belzer, Charles Fleischer, Gilbert Gottfried, Arsenio Hall and others; and there were live performances with James Brown, Cheap Trick and many others;
A world tour with legendary saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter. Band members included Gary Willis on bass and Tom Brechtlein on drums;
Continuing to work with such diverse artists as Elvis Costello, Jim Carroll, Glenn Frey and Joe Walsh, Bonnie Raitt and Stephen Bruton (producing Bruton's first two solo albums, What It Is and Right On Time ), Tom also became active in film and television, writing and performing on such shows as Melrose Place, Boston Public, The Larry Sanders Show, Malcolm In The Middle and others.
In 1998, Tom began performing with French singing sensation Johnny Hallyday. This turned into five years of touring in France and Canada, as well as the release of three hugely successful live CD/DVDs (Stade de France, Tour Eiffel, and L'Olympia). Band members included world-class players Brian Ray, Abe Laboriel Jr., Curt Bisquera, Reggie Hamilton, Harry Kim and many others. Tom later returned to France in 2007 with famed singer Eddy Mitchell, touring and recording the CD Jambalaya, and the live CD/DVD Jambalaya Live. This tour was powered by another high-end rhythm section, which included guitarist Todd Sharp, and Davey Faragher and Pete Thomas (both long-time members of the Imposters, Elvis Costello's band).
Concurrently, Tom began working with legendary British blues artist John Mayall, appearing on a total of ten albums, including the highly successful 70th Birthday Concert CD/DVD, featuring Eric Clapton and Mick Taylor.
In the fall of 2009, Tom performed on and recorded a live CD/DVD (Exile/Atsushi --Premium Live SOLO) with Japanese singing phenomenon Atsushi, featuring special guests Boyz 2 Men. Tom is presently co-writing material with producer/writer/percussionist Arno Lucas for Exile, Atsushi, Al Jarreau, and a variety of other artists.
Tom has also continued to work with T-Bone Burnett. Having played on several of T-Bone's early critically-acclaimed solo albums, Tom has gone on to perform on a variety of Burnett-produced film soundtracks, including Divine Secrets of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood, and the multiple-Oscar winners Walk The Line and Crazy Heart. Tom also worked closely with T-Bone on his production of legendary singer Betty Buckley's newly released album, Ghost Light (Palmetto Records). A track from this album, "Blue Skies", which Tom arranged, and features guitarist Bill Frisell, is also available on Betty's album Bootleg: Boardmixes From The Road. For a more detailed list of Tom's recording credits, please visit www.allmusic.com.
Other recent media activities include performances on TNT's Memphis Beat starring Jason Lee, HBO's Cinema Verite, starring Tim Robbins, Diane Lane and James Gandolfini, the STARZ series Magic City, and USA's Psych. Tom has also ongoingly collaborated with his long-time writing partner Shadoe Stevens, on a series of "cinematic jingles" for Shadoe's recent radio show, Mental Radio, as well as his current (and hilarious) Podcast, Blackout Television. Visit www.blackouttelevision.com for more details and to listen. This podcast, which features the world-class improv talents of Phil LaMarr (MAD TV) Cedric Yarbrough (Reno 911!), Jordan Black, (MAD TV) and many others, was picked up as a potential TV series, with theme song and other music composed by Shadoe and Tom.
On tour, Tom has been dividing his time between legendary singer/songwriter Rickie Lee Jones and Playing For Change, the increasingly popular international roots and soul band, whose YouTube video "Stand By Me" has received over 50 million views. Playing For Change performed in Europe and South America throughout 2012, and in the spring of 2013 did a very successful tour of Australia, performing three times at the Byron Bay BluesFest, and opening up several shows for Robert Plant. Tom also completed a successful 2013 European tour with Rickie, along with band members Reggie McBride and Johnny Friday. This tour included memorable performances throughout Spain and France, culminating in sharing the bill at the renowned Nuits de Fourviere festival in Lyon, France with Mr. George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic(!).