Thompson, Lucky


Thompson, Lucky
▪ 2006
Eli Thompson 
      American jazz musician (b. June 16, 1924, Columbia, S.C.—d. July 30, 2005, Seattle, Wash.), played tenor saxophone solos in a romantic manner that expanded upon Ben Webster's swing era concepts of form and phrasing, using the advanced harmonies and rhythms of bebop; he was among the major stylists of the bop era. Thompson grew up in Detroit and first became noted as a big-band soloist, most notably with Count Basie in 1945; based in Los Angeles from late 1945 to 1948 and thereafter in New York City, Thompson led his own groups and appeared on classic recordings by Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk. Thompson reached his creative peak in mid-1950s recordings with Milt Jackson, the Miles Davis All-Stars, and his own groups, most notably with his quintet and innovative chamber jazz trio on the album Tricrotism. Thompson also performed in Dizzy Gillespie's 1954 big band, and he toured Europe and played baritone saxophone with Stan Kenton's band in 1956. By the 1960s Thompson had begun playing soprano saxophone, and his tenor sound became smoother and less emotionally expressive. In the mid-1960s he lived again in the U.S. but did not play music. His final creative period (1968–72) was spent mostly in Europe. He went on to teach (1973–74) at Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H., but he became bitter about dishonesty and racism in the music business and disappeared from jazz altogether. He suffered from Alzheimer disease, and in the early 1990s he was discovered homeless in Washington.

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▪ American musician
byname of  Eli Thompson  
born June 16, 1924, Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.
died July 30, 2005, Seattle, Washington

      American jazz musician, one of the most distinctive and creative bop-era (bebop) tenor saxophonists, who in later years played soprano saxophone as well.

      Thompson played tenor saxophone in the early 1940s with Lionel Hampton (Hampton, Lionel), the Billy Eckstine (Eckstine, Billy) band, and Count Basie (Basie, Count) before a highly active period in Los Angeles working with Dizzy Gillespie (Gillespie, Dizzy), Charlie Parker (Parker, Charlie), Charles Mingus (Mingus, Charles), Boyd Raeburn, and other pioneers of bebop. Even in this early stage of his career, Thompson revealed an original improvising approach. His beautiful tone was reminiscent of Ben Webster's, with a rough edge in climactic passages; much of his phrasing was influenced by the early works of Don Byas (Byas, Don), and his solo style was a more modern development of the Webster saxophone tradition. A subtle sense of expression, of unusual, accented harmonies, and of dramatic solo form characterized his finest work, specifically in his 1950s recordings as a bandleader (including his unique saxophone-guitar-bass trio in Tricotism [1956]) and with Milt Jackson (Jackson, Milt), Jo Jones (Jones, Jo), and Miles Davis (Davis, Miles).

      Thompson lived in Europe for extended periods in the 1950s and '60s. He was less active upon subsequent returns to the United States, during which he emphasized the lyrical qualities of his style and soloed increasingly on soprano saxophone. He taught at Dartmouth College (1973–74), but disenchantment with the music business led to his early retirement.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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