Thaddeus Ford, II, a sixth-generation jazz musician from New Orleans, is a man who, perhaps above all, believes in the importance of getting back up. His jazz legacy began with the arrival of an immigrant from Santo Domingo named Narcisse Gabriel in 1875. More than a century later, Thaddeus began playing the trumpet at age 8 under the demanding instruction of his father, Thaddeus Ford, Sr., a professional trumpeter with the U.S Marine Corp Band. But only when he met trumpet virtuoso Wynton Marsalis at a workshop at St. Augustine High School when he was 14 years old did Thaddeus begin to take the instrument seriously. Then, in the summer of 1994, after consulting his grandfather – saxophone legend Clarence Ford, Sr., who played with Fats Domino – he decided to audition for The New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA). After high school, Thaddeus and his father enrolled in the music program at Southern University in Baton Rouge where they studied together under jazz educator and clarinetist Alvin Batiste. A year later, he and his father transferred to The University of New Orleans (UNO) to study under Ellis Marsalis, and, after two semesters at UNO, Thaddeus got an invitation to join the brass-hop group, Coolbone, with whom he played for five years.
After leaving Coolbone, in 2001, Thaddeus formed his first group, The Continuum – a name he took on as a way to pay homage to his father who passed away in 1999 and who also had a band by that name. For three years, The Continuum grew from virtually unknown to one of the most sought-after club and private function draws in New Orleans. Then, in 2004, Thaddeus followed his heart and relocated to Dallas, TX, where he steadily grew a name for himself in the local jazz scene playing with the best and brightest in the area, anywhere and everywhere he could find a stage. By all accounts, Thaddeus Ford was a star on the rise. But in 2010, he started to fall. His marriage was ending, he found himself living in a hotel, and he stopped playing music. Two years later, things seemed to turn around.. But in 2013, another blow was dealt when Thaddeus suffered a heart attack only three days before his 35th birthday, and once again, the music stopped. For almost a year, he wasn’t allowed to so much as pick up his horn, and it wasn’t until his comeback in 2014 – when he premiered his EP, The Secret Place at Tuesday Night Jazz – that Thaddeus began to realize just how much he’d overcome and what that meant for his music.
In 2016, he traveled the country with Grammy-winner Kirk Franklin (with musical director Shaun Martin of Snarky Puppy) for Franklin's Twenty Years In One Night tour. Since then, Thaddeus has been writing original music and honing his sound, working to step out of his family’s impressive shadow with a jazz all his own. And in September 2017, thanks to a grant from the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA), he performed From Tragedy to Triumph, a one-night commemoration of his journey to triumph featuring original music by Thaddeus, original dance choreography by Michelle Gibson. The show premiered at fan and friend John Larue’s Deep Ellum Art Company, where Thaddeus’ vision mimicked the experience of the second line in New Orleans. The performance took place in the middle of the room, without a stage, creating an atmosphere wherein it became impossible to distinguish where the artists and audience begin and end. In the same way, Thaddeus hoped the crowd saw this not as a show about Thaddeus Ford, but as the story of anyone who has ever fallen down only to get back up and keep on going.
Thaddeus also performs with symphonic-rock juggernaut The Polyphonic Spree, as well as with his own group (Thaddeus Ford Band), blending the culture and aesthetic of New Orleans music, with Afro-Caribbean grooves and electronic, post rock textures.
In 2019, Mr. Ford began working with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra as a Teaching Artist with their Young Musicians program.
His most recent single is titled “Them That Are Called”.