Press Release (ePRNews.com) - CINCINNATI - Aug 07, 2017 - On July 28, on a night when world class luminaries like Mary J. Blige and Usher performed at the Cincinnati Music Festival at Paul Brown Stadium, the first person to take the stage was a local act – saxophonist Ed “SAX” Thomas, backed up by The Muzic Company. Thomas, a recent retiree from P&G’s Research and Development division, traded his test tubes and focus groups for sheet music and out-of-town gigs.
His performance was literally a dream coming true before his eyes. For the second year, Ed “SAX” Thomas clinched the deal and got the gig to open for the Cincinnati Music Festival. As he stepped onto that mammoth stage to perform as opening act for the event, he was stepping further into his lifelong dream of pursuing a full-time music career.
“It was such a thrill to take the stage and play at such an iconic event,” said Thomas, 57. “It’s a dream come true.”
This extraordinary opportunity came about through a kind of marriage between his two lives – that as a career long Procter & Gamble employee, spending 37 years as a Senior Research Associate in Research and Development, and his prowess and passion for playing the saxophone.
When Procter & Gamble became the major sponsor of the Cincinnati Music Festival, Ed found out who at P&G was in charge, and asked the sponsorship coordinator if he and a back-up band could open for the prestigious event. The coordinator was familiar with Ed’s musical abilities as a jazz saxophonist, because he had played at various P&G events over the years. Ed was referred to Joe Santangelo, the event promoter, and after listening to Ed’s music and reviewing his credentials, the arrangements were settled and the contract was signed.
That was 2016. But Ed, backed up by his group The Muzic Company, was so well received at last year’s festival, Thomas and the Muzic Company came back as opening act again — for Cincinnati Music Festival 2017. (Backing him up this year were: Muzic Company members Keith Leak, Greg Lee, Jeff Sloan, Stephen Richardson, and Gideon Watson, along with his cousin Jeremiah Weaver, an experienced bongos player.)
“We got such a great response – from the audience and the folks working the stage,” Thomas said. “They were saying our sound was so clear and crisp. They thought we were a national act.”
Thomas ensured the quality of their sound by putting some of that P&G professionalism to work. “When I first asked the promoters if I could bring my own sound guy, they said no, but they changed their minds and said they were fine with it,” Thomas explained. “Tony Williams, our sound engineer, knows my horn and he knows the reverb and what types of effects we use. The sound was really good, and he’ll be back this year.”
Thomas took a long, winding road to becoming a professional musician. From age 13, when he began his music career playing saxophone at St. Luke Baptist in the West End, music was always his “first love.” But when he was recruited as a high school senior by P&G for a full “ride” to the University of Cincinnati College of Applied Science, he put off a music career to pursue a degree in chemical technology and began a job at P&G right out of college.
“P&G was a great job, and it enabled me to raise my family and put my two daughters through college,” Thomas said. “But all that time, I kept playing, growing and developing my `Gospel Jazz’ sound on the weekends.”
But then in April 2016, after 37 years of helping to develop Swifer and other cleaning products, he retired from P&G and finally began his second career, and in some ways a busier schedule. “When I was working full time at P&G, I only got a chance to practice a few hours a week with my group, and sometimes about 15 minutes by myself, Thomas said.
“But now I practice at least an hour a day, six days a week,” he said. “At 57, I need to keep in good cardiovascular shape, too, to keep playing the sax. I exercise about 90 minutes a day – at the gym or running. My doctor says that just blowing my sax is exercise too.”
As a part of his plunge into music full-time, Thomas released his second CD called “Be Patient With Me” last year. While Thomas is primarily an “inspirational” or “Gospel” jazz saxophonist, this project includes jazzy renditions of Gospel songs like “Be Patient With Me,” along with R&B, Blues and Pop sounds. It is available on cdbaby.com or edsaxthomas.com. For the first year of CD sales, $1 of the price of each CD was donated to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association or COTA. Thomas said he donated more than $900 to COTA.
After his family – Ingrid, his wife of 30 years, and his grown daughters Kiera and Kaela – and his music, he also loves “giving back” and serving the community. He plays monthly at a local nursing home and coordinates the “Youthful Praise” night at Lincoln Heights Baptist on each fourth Friday, a night when youth from all over the city come to the church and showcase their musical talents, in praise to God. He’s also one of the music ministers at Lincoln Heights Baptist Church.
“The Music Festival has been a tradition for 28 years now in Cincinnati, and I had always dreamed of playing on that stage myself,” Thomas said. “It’s amazing it happened again this year!”
For more information on Ed “SAX” Thomas, visit www.edsaxthomas.com or call 513-403-4237.
Ed SAX Thomas