In the early 1950s, he moved to Paris and became part of the modern jazz scene, playing in the style of Jimmy Raney that was popular at the time. In 1954 and 1956, he recorded albums for Barclay Records and Polydor Records. His reputation as a virtuoso guitarist spread rapidly in the jazz world, though fame eluded him.
In 1956, he moved to Canada, where he played regularly for the Montreal Jazz Society and met Sonny Rollins. Rollins invited him to a concert in Philadelphia and to record the album Sonny Rollins and the Big Brass Trio.
While in the U.S., he played with Toshiko Akiyoshi and Bobby Jaspar and recorded with her on her 1958 album United Notions. In 1960, he made his American debut as a leader with the album Guitar Groove.
Returning to Europe in 1962, he toured and recorded with Chet Baker, Bobby Jaspar, Kenny Clarke, Eddy Louiss, Stan Getz, Lucky Thompson, Sonny Criss, Jacques Pelzer, Lou Bennett, Charles “Lolo” Bellonzi and Ingfried Hoffmann.
In 1971, Stan Getz saw him and his group at the Blue Note in Paris and picked the three of them up, Thomas, organist Eddy Louiss and drummer Bernard Lubat, for a quartet date at Ronnie Scott’s in London. Recordings from three days of their sessions were captured by Beatles’ producer George Martin for the album Dynasty.
Thomas died of a heart attack in Santander, Spain at the age of 47 on 3 January 1975