Final Note: Dr. Thom Mason

Former Life Member. Composer
10/10/1941 – 10/22/2022

by Dr. Bruce Eskovitz

How do we honor a man like Dr. Thom David Mason, an artist, a mentor, an educator a husband and a friend? We cherish his legacy as seen by my colleagues on this stage and the many hundreds of musicians that his teaching influenced for more than 50 years. The classes that he created, like “Jazz, Ragtime & Blues,” which brought this music closer to generations of USC general education students, who learned to love this music through the passion and intelligence that Dr. Thom professed to all. He created the DMA in Jazz Studies, which opened the door to that advanced degree for myself and many of the artists that share this stage today. His book “The Art of Hearing” revolutionized solfeggio in a manner that made it a viable and usable tool for jazz musicians and jazz music students. Dr. Thom was a brilliant man who always sought to inform, educate and create opportunity where none had existed before.

But he was more than that. His day-to-day work as an educator and an artist sought to create a path towards excellence with enthusiasm for everyone he met. His abundant love for music and jazz created countless opportunities for all of his students and mentees and it was a position that he took very seriously as he was carving out his legacy by illustrating every day what it meant to be an artist of the highest caliber. He had the good fortune to be recognized in his lifetime for some of his accomplishments as an educator, when the Los Angeles Jazz Society bestowed the honor of “Educator of the Year” on him. An honor that he was extremely proud to receive.

I clearly remember a conversation that he and I had many years ago when I said something like, “now that we know the trials and tribulations of becoming a musician, and especially the financial aspect of it, how do you teach it, knowing the ominous truth?” He had a simple answer, which strikes to the core of his teaching and life philosophy. He said, “if I can teach someone to be excellent at music, then they can learn to be excellent at anything!”

He was so excited when more than twenty years ago he met, fell in love and married Rosemarie Christopher. They shared a deep love for each other as she shared his passions for music and life, and we send our deepest condolences of love to her at this time.

Dr. Thom Mason was a brilliant musician, composer, educator, scholar and author and we have the unique opportunity to celebrate his legacy today in the medium that he loved most, which is music. Thank you, Dr. Thom, for all that you have shared and because of who you were, your legacy will live long into the future.

Rest in peace Thom, rest in peace.