After winning numerous awards in high school and at the Berklee College of Music, Tom went on the road with Buddy Rich in January of 1986 at the age of twenty. He was on Buddy’s last touring band before he died in 1987. Buddy once said of him in a video taped interview in Stockholm: "Tom is going to have a very, very strong future in jazz."
Tom went on to finish his studies at the University of Miami, where he received his Master’s degree in Jazz Arranging and Composition. Afterward, he was immediately employed by U of M. to teach improvisation and ear training, direct Big Bands and coach small groups. In the meantime, he played with such greats as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennet, Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, and Randy Brecker, to name a few.
Shortly thereafter, he started touring with Maynard Ferguson’s Big Bop Nouveau Band, where he remained for 6 years, 4 of which he was musical director. Tom has played on numerous albums, including his own album on Concord records, called "Maynard Ferguson Presents Tom Garling."
He has also appeared on three Maynard Ferguson albums, as well as Tito Puente’s "Special Delivery", an album by Michael Feinstein and Maynard called "Big City Rhythm", and four Frank Mantooth albums.
In addition to his accomplishments as a soloist, his talents as composer and arranger have been utilized by Maynard, Tito Puente, Liza Minelli, Michael Fienstein, Dianne Schuur, plus countless commissions from professional bands around the country. He also co-produced Maynards last album called "Brass Attitude".
Tom currently resides in the Chicago area, and teaches jazz trombone, improvisation, composition and arranging at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and Northern Illinois University. He is highly sought after around the world as a recording artist, composer and arranger, teacher, clinician and professional musician at any capacity.