340

Lucky Thompson: New York City (1964-65)

By

Sign in to view read count
Eli "Lucky" Thompson should be remembered as one of the premier tenor saxophonists of the bebop/hard bop era, right along with Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. Before Rollins, he had recorded with piano-less trios; before Coltrane he had taken up, and mastered, the soprano sax. And he appeared on one of Miles Davis' most influential record dates: the sextet session that produced those templates of hard bop, Walkin' and Blue 'N Boogie. But Thompson was labeled as "difficult," easily making enemies in an industry where he attempted to assert artistic and financial control (his own publishing and recording companies), refusing to go along with the status quo. On top of that add an emerging paranoid schizophrenia that would find him disappearing from the scene by 1975, dying in 2005. So Thompson never achieved the popularity or acclaim of contemporaries like John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins and left a relatively meager recorded legacy, the bulk of it from the '50s.

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.

Title: New York City (1964-65) | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Uptown Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Rev CD/LP/Track Review Rev
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "The Eighth Hour Of Amduat" CD/LP/Track Review The Eighth Hour Of Amduat
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 17, 2017
Read "Gnosis" CD/LP/Track Review Gnosis
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 27, 2017
Read "Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 7, 2017
Read "En Corps Generation" CD/LP/Track Review En Corps Generation
by John Sharpe
Published: August 1, 2017
Read "Instrumental" CD/LP/Track Review Instrumental
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 10, 2017
Read "The Dead Man" CD/LP/Track Review The Dead Man
by James Nadal
Published: April 4, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.