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Thread: Don Thompson, Canadian Musician

  1. #1
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Don Thompson, Canadian Musician

    This week I've been catching up on Don Thompson, a Toronto native who plays upright bass, well enough to be a full-time member of the Ed Bickert Trio, who backed Paul Desmond and Frank Rosolino when they came through Toronto, as well as several Bickert solo albums. He's also backed Jim Hall and John Abercrombie as a bassist, and probably lots of others.

    But wait, he also plays piano, well enough to have released several jazz trio and quartet albums as a pianist. He hires a different bassist on these dates. Is this the same guy? Yes, it is.

    But wait, he also plays vibes, and has released at least two excellent albums as a vibist with a quartet ("Country Place" and "Winter Mist.") Same guy again.

    But wait. He also engineered the Hall and Rosolino albums recorded at Bourbon Street in Toronto, and gawd knows how many other recordings. The Hall and Rosolino albums are two of the best-sounding live recordings ever.

    Is there no end to this guy's talent?

  2. #2
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Discogs has a brief bio on him:
    Donald Winston Thompson
    Profile:
    Born: January 18, 1940, Powell River, British Columbia.

    Canadian jazz multi-instrumentalist (including piano, bass, vibraphone and drums) as well as a composer, arranger and recording engineer.
    After childhood piano lessons he took up the string bass and the vibraphone in his teens. He is essentially self-taught on all instruments.

    1960-5 he was sideman to Chris Gage (playing bass or vibraphone) and Dave Robbins (bass) and accompanied the visiting US jazzmen Barney Kessel, John Handy, and others in local nightclubs.
    1965 joined Handy's quintet in the USA, touring widely and making two LPs, one of which, Live at Monterey, was among the most popular jazz recordings of the 1960s.
    1967 returned to Vancouver (after working briefly in Montreal with Lee Gagnon that year)
    1969 moved to Toronto. He quickly became that city's first-call studio bassist
    mid-1970's turned exclusively to jazz
    1969-1982 (bassist) and 1988 (piano) member of the Boss Brass
    1970-1982 and 1990 was pianist with Sonny Greenwich
    1970-1974( bassist) and (1975-1978) pianist for Moe Koffman . Also played bass or drums for Lenny Breau and has maintained a lengthy association with the guitarist Ed Bickert
    1975 bassist at the Toronto jazz club Bourbon Street with (among others) the US guitarist Jim Hall and the US alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, documented by live recordings there (for which Thompson served as recording engineer)
    1976 he began touring with Jim Hall (Japan, the USA and Europe)
    1977 led his own quartet on piano at the Laren's International Jazz Festival in Holland
    1982-1987 he was concert partner to the celebrated British pianist George Shearing, with whom he played both bass and piano.
    1982 began to teach each summer at the Banff CA Jazz Workshop
    1983 established the short-lived record label, From Bebop to Now
    1984 sole accompanist to Shearing and the singer Mel Tormé on emmy winning 'Top Drawer'
    1987 piano in the Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra, accompanied Jane Bunnett, Trudy Desmond, and others locally, and taught privately.
    1991 led his own quartet(s) playing the vibraphone, appearing at several Canadian jazz festivals
    2007 Thompson was commissioned to compose a piece 'Reflections' for Cellist Coenraad Bloemendal and Harpist Erica Goodman for their latest CD recording
    2007 he produced one half of a concert for CBC Radio (Canada Live) that which featured featured his Quartet performing his own jazz adaptations of some of the music of J.S. Bach
    2007 led an all-star Jazz Quintet in a concert tribute to Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie's Massey Hall Concert, an event which was recorded for subsequent broadcast on JAZZ.FM91
    2013 released 'Look for the Silver Lining', with Phil Dwyer, a piano / saxophone duo album. It was nominated for JUNO in 2014
    2013 released 'A Little Simple Magic', a duo recording with saxophonist Pat Labarbera
    2013 released 'Tranquility on Cornerstone Records' with Neil Swainson

    Recordings range from the mainstream Secret Love to the relatively avant garde Don Thompson Quartet Live. The albums 'Ed Bickert/Don Thompson' and 'A Beautiful Friendship' won Juno Awards (for best jazz recording) in 1980 and 1985 respectively.

    Thompson's diverse body of compositions includes:
    'Trio '85' (for clarinet, double bass and piano, premiered by James Campbell and others),
    'Journey to Skye' (1987, for pipe band, recorded by the 78th Fraser Highlanders),
    'Quartet '89' (for four double basses, premiered at NMC by the composer with Joel Quarrington and others),
    'Abstract & Dreams' (1989, for jazz and string quartets, recorded by Jim Hall in 1990).

    His best-known composition is 'Days Gone By', which he has arranged for big band and for symphony orchestra; it has been recorded by Thompson himself, the Boss Brass, a CBC-organized 'All Star Jazz Sextet', Moe Koffman, Pat LaBarbera and, with lyrics added, Jeff Dyer and Arlene Smith.
    Thompson also has written in the 12-tone idiom for big band, including 'Pluto' (1974), recorded by Koffman, and 'Don't' (1970) and 'Winter Mist' (1987), played as suite by McMurdo.
    Other Thompson themes have been recorded (with the composer as a participant) by Hall ('Circles'), Koffman ('Mercury', 'Bilbo', 'Wildlife'), McMurdo ('Blues for Jim-San', 'Ghoti'), Doug Riley ('Gandalf', 'Dreams'), and Shearing ('Stratford Stomp'). Thompson has written several pieces in tribute to other musicians - eg, 'For Chris Gage', 'Song for Sonny' [Greenwich], and 'For Scott LaFaro'.

    Awards:
    1979 – JUNO Award for ‘Best Jazz Album’ to Ed Bickert and Don Thompson for Sackville 4005
    1984 – JUNO Award for ‘Best Jazz Album’ to Don Thompson for A Beautiful Friendship
    1984 – Don Thompson was the sole accompanist to George Shearing and Mel Tormé on Top Drawer, winner of a Grammy Award
    1994 – Winner of The Jazz Report Award as ‘Vibraphonist of the Year’
    1994 – Winner of the SOCAN Award for ‘Best Jazz Composition of the Year’
    1995 – Winner of The Jazz Report Award as ‘Vibraphonist of the Year’
    1996 – Winner of The Jazz Report Award as ‘Vibraphonist of the Year’
    1997 – Winner of The Jazz Report Award as ‘Vibraphonist of the Year’
    1998 – Winner of The Jazz Report Award as ‘Vibraphonist of the Year’
    1999 – Winner of The Jazz Report Award as ‘Vibraphonist of the Year’
    1999 – Winner of the SOCAN Award for ‘Best Jazz Composition of the Year’
    2000 – Winner of The Jazz Report Award as ‘Vibraphonist of the Year’
    2001 – Winner of The Jazz Report Award as ‘Vibraphonist of the Year’
    2003 – National Jazz Awards Winner as ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’
    2004 – National Jazz Awards Winner as 'Instrumentalist of the Year'
    2005 – National Jazz Awards Winner as 'Arranger of the Year'
    2005 – National Jazz Awards Winner as 'Instrumentalist of the Year'
    2006 – JUNO Award for ‘Traditional Jazz Album’ for "Ask Me Later" (Don Thompson Quartet)
    2006 – Recipient of the Art of Jazz ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award’
    2006 – National Jazz Awards Winner as 'SOCAN Composer of the Year'
    2006 – National Jazz Awards Winner as 'Musician of the Year'
    2006 – National Jazz Awards Winner as 'Instrumentalist of the Year'
    2007 – National Jazz Awards Winner as 'Instrumentalist of the Year'
    2006 – National Jazz Awards Winner as 'Musician of the Year'
    2008 – National Jazz Awards Winner as 'Instrumentalist of the Year'
    2009 – National Jazz Awards Winner for Jazz Recording of the Year - For Kenny Wheeler
    2009 – National Jazz Awards Winner SOCAN Composer
    2009 – National Jazz Awards Winner – Acoustic Band of the Year – Don Thompson Quartet
    2009 – Officer of the Order of Canada
    2009 – JUNO nomination for 'Traditional Jazz Album' - For Kenny Wheeler (Don Thomson Quartet)
    2014 – JUNO nomination for 'Traditional Jazz Album' for Look for the Silver Lining (with Phil Dwyer)

  3. #3
    Boo! walt's Avatar
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    Only things i have with Thompson on bass is the Mosaic 3-cd mid 60s John Handy set(Live at Monterey etc).Haven't spun this is years, time to dust it off and give it a spin.
    "please do not understand me too quickly"-andre gide

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