thomas helton is a composer and bassist who writes and performs music in both solo and ensemble settings. as a composer mr. helton was awarded a houston arts alliance individual artist fellowship grant in 2007 for the commission and premiere of a new work for fifteen-piece ensemble, the torture chamber ensemble. he was awarded an artist residency for the commission and premiere of pride from diverseworks artspace in houston in october 2004, a work for ten-piece ensemble and video projection created in collaboration with video artist maria del carmen montoya. other new music commissions include 5 works for the michele brangwen dance ensemble.
desesperados (2005), a suite of tangos, is featured on houston public radio’s cd the best of the front row. black rain (2005), a work for saxophone, guitar, string bass, percussion and dancers, was chosen to be performed as part of fotofest’s 2006 biennial dedicated to the themes of the earth and artists responding to violence. as a bassist, thomas helton performs with his own ensemble, the core trio, as well as with many celebrated jazz and free improv artists including tim hagans, milt jackson, daniel carter, monty alexander, frank gratowski and ernie watts, william parker, weasel walter and steve swell. he recently performed the music of tim hagans as a guest artist with sweden’s norrbotten big band. he was also featured at the 2009 isb bass convention curated by mark dresser. thomas has released three cd’s: doublebass; experimentations in minimalism; and saga. all three have received positive reviews in the press in both in the u.s. and europe.
in the spring of 2010 he spent 3 month a the takt artist residency in berlin, germany. while there he performed at many of the cities avant-garde venues with local musicians, simon rose, matthias mueller, klaus kuervers, chris heenan and bassist clayton thomas. upon returning to the usa, thomas completed a very successful west coast tour. among some of the performances were norcal noisefest, usc bakersfield, unt and a special performance with bassist damon smith at tex gallery in denton,tx.
he recently released a new solo, dvd collaboration with videographer jonathan jindra. the film was featured at the international society of improvised music conference during a recent east coast. he plans to continue a us tour in 2012 and a potential tour of europe is in the works.
in 2013 thomas took over the non-profit group, the houston composers alliance. the organization presents original work by modern composers. 2013 also saw the release of his group, the core trio. the recording was a live improvisation with new york piano great, robert boston.