Tom Stansell

Multi-talented Tom Stansell plays saxophone, clarinet and flute for Truth in Jazz Orchestra.

Tom recalls growing up with music. Musicians in his family go back for generations. His parents, founders of Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, are lifelong music educators and are still active in the Blue Lake International Program. All of the influences of family encouraged Tom’s involvement and training in music.

He went on to study music at Western Michigan University, University of Michigan, Muskegon Community College and Illinois State. In addition to musical studies, he obtained a certificate in instrument repair.

Tom spent eleven years in Denmark as the lead alto saxophonist in the I B Glindemann Orchestra of Copenhagen. That experience provided the foundation for his playing in numerous other big bands through the years.

Presently Tom plays baritone sax with Hip Pocket, an eleven piece funk band in Grand Rapids, as well as with the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra, and the Blue Lake Monster. He also free lances frequently with Mid-Town Horns, Grand Rapids.

Through years of performance, Tom has had opportunity to play with some musical giants including Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Phil Wilson, Bill Watrous, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, Ernie Wilkins, Randy Brecker, Jon Faddis, Terry Gibbs, Bob Hope, Steve Allen, George Burns, and the Guy Lombardo Orchestra.

Though Tom’s background was in classical music, he found that jazz captured his interest as a young man.

“Jazz is more the performers’ art form and not just the composers’ art form,” Tom says. “There is room in jazz for personal expression.”

“And people in the audience let you know whether they like or dislike what you are doing. There is a response that you can feel. To think that you may have done something that brightens their day, a positive feeling.”

He sums up his thoughts by saying, “Some of the greatest and worst moments of my life are in trying to play jazz, but it’s very satisfying when it all comes together.”