Thollem displays a chameleonic ability
to adapt to suit whatever musical context presents itself…
There is more than one way to access the infinite.
Daniel Spicer, The Wire
Thollem is simply one of the great improvisers of today.
Overflowing and irrepressible exuberance.
All About Jazz Italy
Fearless experimentation…super human handwork.
Brad Cohan, NYC Jazz Record
Thollem has that rare gift of soulful equilibrium, which he alternates
with digital dexterities that have few equals on the current scene.
Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes
In my mind, a virtuoso is someone who makes his or her instrument more than what it is, someone who blows past its constraints, finding endless worlds of possibility where others find limitations.
By that definition, Thollem is most certainly a virtuoso.
J. Lawrence, Free Times: Columbia News and Arts
…a relentless zigzag of rhythms, densities, and moods that range from kinetic, tightly wound flurries to calm, meditative queries.
Peter Margasak, The Chicago Reader
A fresh, disciplined avant-pianist with an attractively extreme viewpoint.
Greg Burk – LA Weekly
Slyly sublime and beautifully brutal.
August March, Albuquerque Alibi
Thollem might be a musician, or he might be some kind of wizard scientist … the experience might melt your mind.
The Denver Westword
His solo piano compositions are a wonder, mastering harmonics to transform 88 keys into texturally staggering ensemble. His motion is kinetic, even as he slows, somehow expressing both patience and restlessness. He’s a magnificent player and a free-music veteran and member of several world-class groups, but his talent is most awing when it’s just him and a piano.
Detroit Metro Times
Rapturous solo piano work which transgresses genre boundaries as much as it transcends them.
Dave Wayne, All About Jazz NY
Thollem’s solo piano set touched on virtually every genre of music. Dressed in a t-shirt, cargo pants, and old work boots, McDonas didn’t have the disposition or attitude of a music virtuoso. He looked more like a skilled laborer. But he constructed a set of improvised music that had all the creativity and energy of Thelonious Monk and Igor Stravinsky playing at a neighborhood jam session.
I DIG JAZZ – Charles L. Latimer’s Jazz Journal
His sound ecosystem is wet, like a rain forest dripping with life and death: shadowed in darkness but nourished by hot sunlight, teeming with crouching predators and bright birds exploding from the trees, their raucous bellows resonating and echoing through hollow canyons and caverns.
Tom Djll, Signal To Noise, Spring 2011
Ben Crandell, Miami Sun Sentinel
Thollem is half pianist, half hurricane.
Steve Holje, Culture Catch
Thollem has managed to be fabulously prolific and simultaneously fly below the radar. Perhaps that’s because he’s so hard to pin down. Each new project seems to offer a different perspective from the last.
NYC Jazz Record
One of the most captivating pianists working today.
Rui Edoardo Paes, Jazz.pt (Portugal)
Ernie Paik, Chattanooga Pulse
Prepare yourself accordingly for plenty of fiery playing and some skin-tingling cacophony.
Robert Ham, Portland Mercury
The sound is similar to the way a smell can evoke nostalgia, as though the world of forgotten and neglected things has its own soundtrack.
Harrison Berry, Boise Weekly
The piano playing is to die for! … some of the more creative stuff I’ve ever heard.
Alisa Clancy, KCSM
Seemingly unstoppable, the spontaneous keyboardist constantly travels the world, developing musical collaborations with both experienced veterans and up-and-coming rookies and releasing literally dozens of albums along the way.
Ernie Paik, Chattanooga Pulse
Thollem is a pianist with highly developed technical skills at the piano. His flourishes and runs up and down the keyboard are executed with crystal clarity.
Winthrop Bedford, Jazz Improv Magazine
Thollem is an all-round musician, capable of playing in contexts of extreme music: from rock post-punk to world music, even in academia, from classical-style romantic or impressionistic to contemporary music.
Curva Minore (Italy)
His imagination is overwhelming and unstoppable as a flood, as powerful as the fast current, often as a red-hot lava. A continuous flow, often turbulent, sometimes stops in temporary pools of calm, the mood sweeter or absorbed. With Thollem we are faced with overflowing and irrepressible exuberance.
Thollem’s playing is not only of a high technical standard, but also very communicative. His music is drenched in many musicaltraditions, and Thollem succeeds in making an original brew of it … jump in this exceptional source of musical energy and enjoy it.
Dolf Mulder, Vital Weekly (Holland)
Thollem dives headlong into fascinating unforeseen and bold musical adventures that make him one of the most interesting pianists of the current improvised music genre…the result is the natural consequence of being intrinsically eclectic at heart. His inventiveness is facilitated by his highly developed virtuosity, a tool that allows him to confer on his music an extraordinary flexibility and dynamic variability.
Eduardo Chagas, TomaJazz (Portugal)
Thollem thinks quicker than God, but his pressure-packed melodic constructions don’t leave you in the dust. Thollem does what few can: He combines extreme imagination with terrific post-classical chops and an ability to communicate through melody. A fresh, disciplined avant-pianist with an attractively extreme viewpoint. Unreal linear explosions.
Greg Burk, LA Weekly (US)
… brilliant, bursting pearls in the astonished air. Thollem’s hands were like ten pounding steam-pistons, taking the audience for such an exhilarating ride, leaving us gasping to keep up. A supercollider centrifuge of innumerable disasters, a churning black caldera bespattered with beautiful madness. It seems beyond the capacity of one human being to contain so much densely-packed creative energy…
Tom Djll, Signal To Noise (U.S.)
Among the principal features of the pianist’s style is the ability of overwhelming without letting one feel intimidated. That roaring creature gathers energy and begins to fly. And then, just like that, the silence falls…Thollem has that rare gift of soulful equilibrium, which he alternates with digital dexterities that have few equals on the current scene.
Massimo Ricci, TouchingExtremes (Italy)
“How have the past 18 months been for you? As things shut down and shows/touring were canceled, you were one person I thought of immediately, and can only imagine how different it’s been compared to what you normally would have been doing.” Foxy Digitalis interview in 2021
“Perpetual travel enlightens both the traveler as well as those with whom they come into contact. I believe that traveling musicians/artists/creative and free thinkers are necessary as nongovernmental cultural ambassadors, because they represent their communities and countries and fill an important role as artist liaisons in the relations between diverse peoples.” from Traveling Man by Gary Singh
“Still informed by his anarchist roots and living an itinerant lifestyle after all these years, Thollem’s music is a testament to his restless and prolific creative drive, as well as Art’s ability to bridge and build diverse communities.” Live Eye TV interview