About Thaddeus


"Tukes brings poetry to the vibraphone.” -Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune 


Thaddeus Warren Tukes is a vibraphonist, composer, arranger, pianist and bandleader, and one who "brings poetry to the vibraphone" (Chicago Tribune). A Chicago, Illinoisnative, Tukes began playing the piano at the age of five, and soon thereafter began inclusive percussion instruction with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association’sPercussion Scholarship Program, while attending Edgar Alan Poe Classical School. Although classically trained, he was inspired to play Jazz vibraphone after hearing vibraphonists Lionel Hampton and Stefon Harris. Tukes played percussion instruments and piano in the Jazz Combo, Band, Orchestra, and the Wind and Percussion ensembles at Chicago’s Whitney M. Young Magnet High School. In addition to performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City with the school’s band, he received superior ratings in solo competitions, and recognition as the best Illinois Jazz vibraphonist among high school competitors by the Illinois Music Education Association. Tukes graduated with a combined bachelor’s degree in Jazz piano and vibraphone studies at Northwestern University, the first Jazz vibraphone degree program at a non-conservatory university, where member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Victor Goines is Director of Jazz Studies. Tukes earned the honors ofbeing a Ravinia Jazz Scholar, Jazz Institute of Chicago’s Kewitt-Wang Scholar, Luminarts Fellow, Vivian K Harsh Society awardee and Percussive Arts Society/Yamaha Terry Gibbs Vibraphone Scholarship recipient. As a former apprentice of Chicago’s Gallery 37/After School Matters Center for the Arts Jazz Band program during high school, Tukes is currently its director. 

In the summer of 2020, Tukes and a group of local musicians formed the Chicago Freedom Ensemble, a music performance and social justice advocacy organization. Through the Chicago Freedom Ensemble, he has supported and led protests, provided political and financial literacy for the local music community, conducted jam sessions throughout the city, and created a citywide network of young muticulturalinstrumentalists. Tukes, along with a small delegation of these musicians, were invited to and performed at the 2020 World’s Expo in Dubai.

Tukes has released three albums under his self-owned label, Vibetown Studios. He performs as a bandleader and special guest with the Chicago Jazz Festival, Hyde Park Jazz Festival, South Side Jazz Coalition, Inc., and various Jazz clubs and ensembles throughout the country. He is a member of the Chicago Jazz Orchestra and the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. When not performing, Tukes can be found teaching percussion ensembles at various elementary and high schools in the Chicagoland area