It’s hard to overstate the importance of Thomas “Tommy” Grice (March 8, 1929-October 30, 2017) to Trenton music history. Born in Pensacola, Florida, he was the younger brother of noted jazz and classical trumpeter and composer Gigi Gryce. Tommy began playing saxophone as a child, leading to his matriculation at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. At his brother’s urging, he decided to go into music education instead of full-time performance, earning a master’s degree at Columbia University’s Teachers College. He came to Trenton, New Jersey to teach in the mid-1950s. During his time as a teacher at Trenton Central High School, he taught and mentored some of the most notable musicians and educators of the era, including:
Grice and several of his former students and colleagues co-founded the Thomas Grice Academy of Music, which provides free or low-cost music lessons to its students. The volunteer instructors have included such accomplished musicians as Clifford Adams and Roy Richardson.
Tommy Grice was also a beloved elder statesman of New Jersey’s close-knit jazz community, performing regularly in clubs in Trenton and Newark. He was a fixture at The Candlelight, Trenton’s legendary jazz club. As a musician, he was known for the precision of his playing and passion for excellence. He released several independent CDs and gave several oral history interviews that we will be putting online in the near future.
TCNJ Signal newspaper coverage of 2014 TCNJ jazz ensemble performance.
2013 Jazz Bridge talk and performance:
2016 conversation with former student Sarah Dash: