Lucky Thompson: New York City (1964-65) (2009)
This relatively short (40- and 44-plus minute CDs) two-date album is a welcome addition to that legacy, capturing parts of an octet concert (Feb. 28th, 1964) and a quartet engagement at the Half Note (Feb. 19th, 1965). It proves that Thompson continued to grow and develop musically in his last decade of active playing. On both dates he's featured almost equally on tenor and soprano saxophones. On the latter his style eschewed the Middle Eastern overtones and throaty vibrato of Coltrane and Steve Lacy in favor of a clean, light tone, clear articulation and a vibrant lyricism. A fine example is the ballad "What's New" on the Half Note date. Thompson's solos on both horns, whether ballads or up-tempos, are wonders of logical, cohesive improvisation that build with strong narrative lines. Noal Cohen's cogent liner notes (a fine primer on his musical career) quote him in apropos fashion: "Every note in a solo must mean something. All the strands of sound and rhythm must be tied together and make for a stimulating, informative picture." Thompson the composer-arranger is spotlighted on the concert disc while the quartet disc favors standards, but on both the improviser is in top form.
Track Listing: Theme; The World Awakes; Minuet in Blues; 'Twas Yesterday; Firebug; Theme 2; Introduction; The World Awakes (Half-Note version); What's New; Alan Grant Speaks; Lady Bird; Alan Grant; Strike Up the Band.
Record Label: Uptown Records