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Don Thompson

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by Eric Jackson, Feb 25, 2004.

  1. I find it hard to believe that a search here turns up almost nothing on Don Thompson. Is he a well-kept Canadian secret?

    He is an exceptional bassist, with technique and musicality second to none. He is equally proficient on piano and vibes, and is reportedly a good drummer also. He's toured extensively with John Handy, Jim Hall, and George Shearing, and played with a long list of jazz luminaries. I saw him with a trio in a small club setting about a month ago, and sat about eight feet in front of him and his magnificent 1846 Chanot. It was awesome, in the truest sense of an overused term. I had the chance to sit and talk at length with him over two intermissions, he is a very humble, personable and knowledgeable guy. Heard him live on the radio last night, he played a solo version of Around Midnight that was also incredible.

    Check out his profile at www.jazzcanadiana.on.ca/protomps.htm, it includes biographical stuff, a list of the people he's played and recorded with, and a lengthy discography.
    salcott likes this.
  2. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Agreed 100%....he seems to be one of those guys that does great work year after year, without getting enough recognition. Great musician.
  3. Dave Young is another amazing canadian bassist.
    Ed Bickert (guitar) played a lot with Thompson and is a canadian gem too!
  4. Agreed. Excellent arco player too.
    Agreed again. Thompson seems to like to play with guitarists- Jim Hall, Ed Bickert (Cdn), Lenny Breau (Cdn), Sonny Greenwich (Cdn). The trio I mentioned included Reg Schwager, another excellent Toronto guitarist.
  5. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    That's a very fine group of guitarists to be playing with.
  6. Don's one of my favorite bass players, and piano players and drummers and vibe players!
    He was working with John Handy in San Francisco when I was working with Bill Evans and Philly Joe Jones @ the Jazz Workshop, so we're old friends. I haven't heard much about him lately. As all you guys know, i'm a Jim Hall freak and Dons work with him as far as i'm concered is brilliant.
    Don sent me some unreleased stuff he recorded with Jim that is just astounding!!!

    Dave Young spent some time here in Denver and told me a very funny story about he and Jacques Gagnon, the famous Canadian bass maker, collector, and generally amazing bass guy. Yes siree, they got some great musicians up there. I guess Toronto has a pretty active studio scene, or should say HAD!
    salcott likes this.
  7. I don't know about the studio scene, but there's certainly lots of great music to be heard in clubs, small concert venues and summertime festivals in the greater Toronto area. There are many excellent players and singers on the Toronto scene, and we're fortunate to have Canada's only all-jazz radio station on the air locally as well. Some of the on-air personalities are accomplished players also. Check it out online at www.jazz.fm.
  8. Thompson's credits include playing with Red Mitchell. Wonder what the instrumentation was- Two basses? Two pianos? One of each? (I know he played second piano with Shearing about 1/3 of the time during the early years of that pairing.)

    Two of your favourites together, Paul. Are you salivating?
  9. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    That's probably the coolest thing about Don Thompson...when you hire him, it's like getting four guys in one, and they're all MF's....
  10. You bet your ass! I know Don was influenced by Red, but didn't know they played together.
    I have a record that Don did under his own name W/ Dave Holland. One two bass cut I think. Don wrote a nice tune called "For Scott LaFaro" Don can really sound like Scotty!
  11. Do you know what the albums are called, or which label they are on. I've got 2 albums by Don, but they are so old they are on vinyl. I hadn't heard of him for ages. I'd love to get some new stuff by him.
  12. Don wrote a chart for a big band I used to play with. He dropped the chart off and played drums for the whole rehearsal as the drummer was ill. Another guitar player he used to play with was Emily Remler. He and Reg Schwager released a live duo CD a few years ago that is pretty darn good.
  13. Hey Randy, is Reg kinda balding and plays a solid body guitar? I have a vinyl duo thing with Don and a guitarist but it's not live. I'm in the process of a hunt for this vinyl and the one Don did with Dave Holland. I'll post when and if...
    By the way, I played with Emily Remler and Herb Ellis when they were on the road as a duo...Herb was trying to father her...he'd take her to AA meetings, trying to help her deal with her addictive personality but, sadly, she didn't make it. She played her ass off though!!
    Don and I were talking about thumb position playing and he said " I made a whole career out of thumb position playing."
  14. Hi Paul, Reg should still have all of his hair and he usuall plays an archtop. Reg has to be in his late thirties/early forties but still seems to look like he is seventeen! Perhaps the guitarist is Lorne Lofsky? Ed Bickert?Rob Piltch. Don records with alot of guys, could be anyone.
  15. Don has a couple of great recordings which have recently come out. One is a date with him on piano and Dave Holland, Kenny Wheeler, Phil Dwyer and the amazing drummer, Claude Ranger. It is an older recording but has recently been released for the first time on Roadhouse Records (roadhouserecords.ca). Another one is a live recording from Powell River, on which he plays both vibes and piano. "Live in Powell River" is apparently the first album Don has recorded of his own compositions.
  16. basslife


    Mar 23, 2004
    Latest SF/Bay Area trip was in Nov., 2000. Visited Joe Henderson, Duck Bailey, John Handy, etc. John has a "John Handy Reunion" double CD released already. Of course, Don Thompson is on it. (see Handy's website to order.)
  17. That fine French bass that Don has, was it a Chanot? It seems he had one of those cool stories about how he got it. You know... a strange happening that allowed him to buy it for some ridiculously low price.
    Anyone remember?
  18. This thread has brought back lots of memories for me - I used to see Don Thompson and Ed Bickert at Toronto's old "Bourbon Street" club in the 70's!

    Most underrated bassist I can think of. He still does a lot of teaching in Toronto. Thanks for starting it, Eric!

  19. I think Don said he found it in someone's basement or barn in a few pieces. I remember being told this story, but it may have been through another Toronto bassist. I seem to remember the price being something ridiculous like $400. Of course we all know how these stories get embellished over time when we don't get them from the source.
  20. msw


    Aug 21, 2003
    This one was just reissued: Ed Bickert/DonThompson "At The Garden Party" (Sackville SKCD-4005). Definitive Don Thompson along with some new tracks not on the LP. Highly recomended.

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