Tom Van Seters

This week’s featured artist is pianist Tom Van Seters, who participated in Jazzology in 2010.

A native of Montreal, Van Seters now resides in Edmonton, Alberta, and teaches in the Music Program at MacEwan University. He completed a Master of Music degree at McGill University and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Toronto before serving as Assistant Professor of jazz studies at the Brandon University School of Music in Manitoba for three years.

Tom’s debut recording, Narrative, was released in 2002 and features saxophonist Mike Murley and trumpeter Kevin Turcotte. In 2005, Tom toured and recorded with legendary jazz vibraphonist Don Thompson, producing his critically acclaimed album The Long View.  His latest recording Variables was recorded in Toronto with bassist Jim Vivian and drummer Anthony Michelli, showcasing Tom’s strengths both as pianist and composer. Tom’s music has been broadcast on radio throughout Canada and performed on stage at numerous Canadian music festivals.

Van Seters has performed with Mike Downes, Ted Warren, Dave Turner, Frank Lozano, Jim Hillman, Rémi Bolduc, Kelly Jefferson, Greg Amirault, Michel Lambert, Mike Malone, Fraser Hollins, Dave Lang, Greg Ritchie, Karl Jannuska, Brian O’Kane, Kieran Overs, Alex Dean, Dave Watts, Mike Rudd, Kent Sangster, Jim Head, John Taylor, and PJ Perry. His work as a solo and ensemble performer have taken him to Morocco, Bahrain, Bermuda, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Tom took some time to discuss his recollection of the Jazzology program and provided an update on his more recent musical activities:

1) Describe your experience with the Jazzology program. What was your favourite aspect?

At the time, I was completing my Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Toronto and I appreciated the opportunity to share some of the things I was experiencing in my academic life. It was also fun to be able to listen to some of my music played on the radio and then to comment on the process behind its creation.

2) What is your strongest memory of the Jazzology program? Are there any funny stories or incidents that come to mind?

I remember JAZZ.FM91 being a very welcoming environment, that’s what stuck out the most to me.

3) Would you recommend this experience to other young musicians?

Of course! The number of people you can reach is amazing. I hear back from listeners all the time when my music is played on the station. It’s a fantastic opportunity to reach new people not only with your music but also with some information about who you are as an artist and person.

4) How has this experience helped in your personal and professional development?

Any kind of exposure like this is great! As well, the interview process itself takes practice. I recently did an interview for CKUA based in Edmonton and I found myself using some of what I learned from the Jazzology interview.

5) This program is made possible by our generous donors and sponsors who strongly believe in the importance of arts education initiatives. If you had the opportunity to thank them in person, what would you say?

I would say THANKS and assure them that this is a very valuable program that helps musicians, in a very tangible way, promote their work. An arts scene is made up of individual artists and we need to support these individuals any way we can.

6) Why is music education important?

It’s funny, my 8 year-old son keeps asking me this question! Like many kids his age, he wonders why his parents “make” him practice a musical instrument. I try to communicate to him a number of reasons. Humans are creative beings who need outlets for their creativity and imagination. Humans are drawn to beauty – and what’s more beautiful than music?! Music allows us to communicate with each other at a high level and teaches us about teamwork. Music makes our minds sharper and our bodies more coordinated. The list goes on but by this point in the conversation, my son usually tells me I’m boring him! Then I tell him what I think might arguably be the most important reason, because music is fun!

7) Since participating in the program, what have you been doing?

After completing my DMA degree, I was fortunate enough to be hired right away to teach full time in the Jazz Studies Program at MacEwan University in Edmonton. I’m also currently promoting my latest trio album Variables, which features Jim Vivian on bass and Anthony Michelli on drums.

8) What music are you listening to at the moment that you find particularly inspiring?

I’m currently listening to a lot of Herbie Nichols’ music. Nichols is a relatively unknown and underrated jazz pianist who was active in the 1950’s. He’s a great piano player and very interesting composer. I’m going to be playing a gig here in Edmonton that’s going to feature his music. Jason Marsalis is going to be playing vibes for the gig, which should be a blast!

9) What are your plans for the future?

I’m hoping to write some new music. I’m also having a great time playing with all of the amazing musicians based here in Edmonton.

10) How can people learn more about you and your activities?

Please visit my website:

11) Is there anything else that you want to add?

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this program!

Jazzology is proudly sponsored by RBC Emerging Artists Project.

About RBC and the Arts
RBC sponsors a wide-range of grassroots and local initiatives that contribute to the cultural fabric of our communities. Proud to support events and passions that resonate with our clients and all Canadians, RBC provides opportunities for up-and-coming artists through programs such as the RBC Canadian Painting Competition, one of the largest competitions of its kind in the world; and the RBC Emerging Filmmakers Competition, part of our commitment as the Official Bank and major sponsor of the world’s top public film festival – the Toronto International Film Festival®.

Learn More about the RBC Emerging Artists Project