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Vance ThompsonVance Thompson

Lecturer of Studio Music & Jazz
Hired: 1999
Non-tenure track

University of Tennessee
School of Music
205 Natalie L. Haslam Music Center
Knoxville, TN 37996-4040
Phone: 865-974-7087

Trumpeter, arranger and composer Vance Thompson is the director of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, a seventeen piece big band comprised of the top professional players in East Tennessee. Thompson founded the group in 1999 and established a non-profit organization to support it in 2000. It has since developed into one of the region's most respected arts organizations. 

The organization presents an annual six-concert big band series, a monthly small group concert series and an outdoor Summer series that runs weekly from May through August. It also sponsors an honors band for high school students and presents free, in-school concerts throughout the school year.

The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra has appeared at major jazz festivals in Europe, released five critically acclaimed CD recordings and sold-out dozens of events in venues ranging from 280 to over 1,500 seating capacity. Artists who have appeared with the band include pianists Hank Jones, Monty Alexander, Mulgrew Miller and Donald Brown; bassists John Clayton and Eddie Gomez; saxophonists James Moody, Maceo Parker, Vincent Herring and Greg Tardy; trumpeters Terrel Stafford, Marcus Printup, Sean Jones and Ingrid Jensen; trombonists Wycliffe Gordon and Conrad Herwig; clarinetist Ken Peplowski; vibraphonist Stefon Harris; and multi-instrumentalist James Morrison.

The orchestra's CD recordings feature Thompson's arrangements and have received heavy airplay across North America on Sirius satellite radio's "Real Jazz" channel and other nationally syndicated broadcasts.  These recordings have earned four star reviews in Downbeat Magazine and All Music Guide, topped the sales charts on popular internet music sites like and been spotlighted on NPR's All Songs Considered.

Thompson is originally from East Tennessee and is a graduate of the music programs at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and DePaul University in Chicago. Thompson taught improvisation and small jazz ensembles at DePaul before moving back to Knoxville in 1999. In addition to teaching private trumpet lessons and coaching small jazz ensembles, Thompson teaches classes in jazz arranging, jazz history, jazz styles and music business.
  • M.M. - Jazz Trumpet Performance - DePaul University (1997)
  • B.A. - Studio Music - University of Tennessee (1994)

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