J. Tomás was the author of the famous samba "Sarambá," which had lyrics by Duque and was presented in Paris by Pixinguinha's Oito Batutas. His "Teresinha" was successful as his version in 1929. With partner Orestes Barbosa, he composed the song "Flor do Asfalto" (recorded with success by Castro Barbosa in 1931) and the samba "Verde e amarelo" (recorded by Araci Cortes in 1932). He wrote the music for several musical revues, between them "Guerra Ao Mosquito," and had a very successful orchestra, Brazilian Jazz, with whom Ary Barroso played.
Around 1917, he began to play snare drums in the band of the police brigade of Rio de Janeiro. He was then invited by Donga to join Pixinguinha's Oito Batutas, where he started playing the reco-reco in 1920. He was sick when the Batutas went to Europe, and couldn't join them. Becoming a drummer, he was influenced by jazz music. When the Batutas returned in 1922, he continued his work with the group, who toured Argentina in the same year. From the 20 recordings by the group in Argentina, he was the composer of two sambas -- "Faladô" and "Caruru" -- both with Donga. With the dissolution of the Batutas, he returned to Rio and formed his own dance orchestra, the Brazilian Jazz. The orchestra featured himself at the drums, trombonist Vantuil de Carvalho, violinist Wanderley, pianist Augusto Vasseur, trumpeters Sebastião Cirino and Valdemar, and saxophonists Lafayette and Paraíso. They opened at the Cinema Central and had great success. Ari Barroso was the orchestra's pianist for a while. In 1928, during a performance of the Brazilian Jazz at the Rádio Sociedade, Tomás was invited by Salisbury to join the cast of the recording company Brunswick, who would soon be founded in Rio. The first album recorded by that company was in late 1929, where Tomás sang the sambas "Sarambá" and "Rian." As a singer, he recorded 13 songs with Brunswick between 1929 and 1930 and an album in 1931 with Odeon.