The Bebop Shop : Now's The Time: Bud, Bird & Bebop : Lucky Thompson
Lucky Thompson (1924-2005) had never been accorded the praise he deserved in the United States, despite the fact that in the 40s many prominent critics and musicians considered him the finest tenor-saxophone player to appear in jazz since the emergence of Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. He never found work easily in his own country, maybe because he expressed his views too forcibly about the various rackets going on behind the glitteringfacade of the musical profession. It got so bad that by the 1950s Lucky was practically ignored by most record labels, which deliberately passed over his name time and time again rather than employ him.
This was the situation in 1956, when he decided to move to Parislike Don Byas and several others before himhoping for better things in Europe where his name meant something to jazz critics and collectors. In the months after his arrival in Paris, Lucky appeared on more record sessions than he had in the previous several years in his own country.
These Parisian recordings (1956-1959) went a long way towards proving Lucky Thompsons stature in jazz; they show that his neglect was uncalled for, and that he was a superb fountain of finely-embroidered jazz improvisation. (Fresh Sound Records) Price: £49.99
For the first of these sessions, Lucky joined the Modern Jazz Group a ten-piece band to play a series of compositions written by pianist Henri Renaud, and newly arranged to highlight Thompsons rhythmic, melodic and harmonic imagination. For the remaining three, he had the backing of Dave Pochonet leading several all-star groups that played originals and well-conceived arrangements penned by Lucky. In addition to his writing, his splendid solos project some hard-driving swing, as well as lyricism in the Hawkins-Webster mood. Most of his charts also offer ample solo space for other band members, who dont squander the chance and jump in with more than commendable musicianship.
Thompsons effort to sustain a high, solid mood throughout these sessions is somewhat amazing, making it clear that he was not only a saxophonist of excellent control of tone and ideas, but also an imaginative composer and unpretentious arranger. (Fresh Sound Records) Price: £17.99