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Tom Tisdell - Biography
Paul Broadnax

                         Thomas F.Tisdell

Tom Tisdell was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts  on May 27th 1944.  When he was 4 years old his grandmother took him every Sunday afternoon to the Valley Arena, a venue for the Big Bands. He  was exposed to the music of Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, Sammy Kaye and many others.  When he was in the 3rd grade he asked his parents for sax lessons.  They started him on clarinet with Red Hebert  a local jazz musician. He studied with Red for  10 years, later switching to alto saxophone.

 Tom played clarinet and saxophone all through  High School.  Upon graduation in 1962, he joined the U.S. Air Force. At Lackland Air Force base he auditioned  for the Band Career Field.  He passed the audition and was assigned to Patrick AFB in Cocoa Beach Florida. During his tour the Patrick Band played for many dignitaries including Pres,Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. It was a great opportunity to play in many different settings such Concert Band ,Big Bands Combos and even Marching Bands.There he studied  with Don Upchurch , Moore C.Perfect {his real name} and Phil Beaudoin from Lawrence Ma. Most everyone in the Patrick Band was into Jazz. Dave Steinmeyer ,James Lay, and Gil Cray who were friends became members of the Airmen of Note in Washington D.C. in the 1960s until the early 1990s.

 In March of 1965 Tom was assigned to the 8th Air Force Band at Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee MA. 8 miles from his home. He served there until Sept 1966. The Westover Band had many great musicians such as Bob Holt who was from the Worcester area. Also Harry Platcow ,who later became a Jazz  DJ and Moderator. in the Worcester and Milford Area.

 After the Air Force, Tom played Tenor Sax locally while attending Holyoke Community College graduating in 1968. While at H.C.C. , he was the Jazz Band director for 2 years. He then attended  Westfield State College graduating 1971. He also earned graduate credits at Westfied. During this time he started his affiliation with Docter Don Bastarache. Tom was in Don’s   big band for over 25 years. playing all over New England. In 1981, he received his Masters degree from American International College.

   Tom taught in the Holyoke Public Schools for over 30 years. He became Holyoke High Band Director in 1980 and in 1985 he became the Supervisor of Instrumental Music in the Holyoke School District. He developed the  Jazz  Band program bringing his bands to numerous festivals and competitions inc. New York , Toronto , Orlando and many other places. He received the Holyoke Civic Pride Award in 2002 for his efforts in promoting the city of Holyoke . After he retired in 2004 he directed and formed the American International College Pep Band,which he ran for 6 years.

  Tom became involved with the Massachusetts Association for Jazz Education in 1975 . Through the years he served as President, Vice President. Western District Chairman , Public Relations Chairman and Head Adjudicator. He also was the NorthEast Chairman for the International Association for Jazz Education for 6 years.  In 2003 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award  from MAJE. He also held many positions for MENC. He is also a Jazz adjudicator and Conductor.

  Tom has played Jazz, Rock and R & B for the last 40 years in the Springfield Area. He fronts his own Jazz Combo that features Ralph Whittle on piano , Ron Ernst on bass and vibes and Chet Pasek on drums.   Tom is also the leader of the New England Doo Wop Society House Band that has performed with the Harp Tones ,the Mystics ,the Flamingoes,  Orleans, the Solitaires, the Del Vikings and many other  famous 50s groups. He played tenor sax with the MAJE Big Band as well as the Don Bastarache Big Band. He ran a Jazz Jam session in Holyoke at Brennans Pub for 11 years that many young students got the opportunity   to play Jazz. He is also the chairman of the Bobby Wright Scholarship for Jazz Education Students.