Greatly influenced by the likes of Toots Thielemans, Charlie Parker, Bill Evans and Dan Lancaster, Tom Stryker has performed both as a soloist and with various symphonies, harmonica trios and jazz bands and has appeared on television and radio shows. He has performed all over the world, from China to Hawaii to Frankfurt and from Miami to London. Also, in jazz clubs in Reno, Nevada where he now resides. His recent performances on Holland America Cruise Lines, as the lead player for the Harmonica Aces, were a tremendous success. Additionally, Tom is the former two-term President of SPAH, the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica.
Tom began his musical journey in San Francisco in 1954 under the guidance of former Borah Minevitch Rascal, Ray Tankersley. He later began playing professionally with world-famous Harmonica Rascal Johnny Puleo. He went on to appear at the World Harmonica Championships in the 1980s as the lead player with Harmonica Express, a quartet of players. Yet he was still searching for “something,” until he met a local jazz musician who introduced him to a jazz combo playing in the local nightclubs in San Jose, California. He was bitten by the “bug,” and a new musical journey began.
In Tom’s view, “the mastery of jazz on the chromatic harmonica is a labor of love as it is with any instrument. Jazz is the ultimate expression of musical freedom and individuality. And on what better instrument than the harmonica, everyone’s friend?”