Tom Beckham has been in love with playing the vibraphone since age 14. Much of his inspiration came early from hearing the music of artists such as Milt Jackson, Count Basie, and Wes Montgomery, broadcast from nearby Washington, DC jazz radio stations, a family staple of entertainment. His mallet training began with extensive study of the classical literature, solo marimba literature, performances with orchestras in the DC area, and then to vibraphone, jazz and other improvised music. Mr. Beckham recalls,"I remember a particular point as a teen where I had been playing timpani in a string ensemble, rehearsing with a rock band on drums, learning the Bach Ciaccona on marimba, and discovering my first Bill Evans record. I arrived at Berklee College of Music with my drums and my vibes, but after the first semester I hauled the drums back home and didn't look back—I was hooked on the vibes." At Berklee Mr. Beckham studied with Gary Burton, Ed Saindon, and Hal Crook, among others. After graduating Cum Laude in 1990 he moved to New York to immerse himself in the New York music scene where he further extended many of his musical relationships that began in Boston.
If Third Stream music, the merger of classical music and jazz, never took hold within either musical world as it might have since its official inception in the late 1950’s, the best examples of the genre still prove that it was more that just an academic pipedream.