Joe Thomas will always be best known as the tenor soloist with Jimmy Lunceford's Orchestra. He was originally an altoist playing with Horace Henderson but switched to tenor when he joined Stuff Smith's group. As a star with Lunceford from 1933 until the leader's death in 1947, Thomas had many short but often-memorable solos and took several vocals. After Lunceford's unexpected death, Thomas and pianist Ed Wilcox ran the ghost band for a year. Later, Thomas on his own recorded a variety of R&B-oriented sides, he left music in the mid-'50s to run his father's undertaking business, and from the 1960s on he returned to performing on a part-time basis, cutting a session in 1982 for Uptown. He is not to be confused with the fine swing trumpeter Joe Thomas.
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