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Don Thompson's Versatility

Discussion in 'Recordings [DB]' started by Steve Killingsworth, Apr 14, 2010.

  1. I wasn't sure if this would fit better in the Bassists or Recordings forum.

    For those unfamiliar with Don Thompson check out his work on piano, bass, and vibes.

    He's an amazing musician.
  2. He crazy. I think I already told this story....he was hanging at my house when he was here with Shearing and told me this story.
    He was doing one of those USS Norway Jazz Cruises and the last set of each night was an all-star jam session. The night before he played some drums and cut all the drummers (after wasting all the bass players and piano players). The next night he was getting ready to leave his room for the session and noticed a note under his door.
    It read:
    "If you play drums again tonight, you're a dead man".
    Mel Torme.

    (sorry to repeat myself).
  3. Story's still great the second time, Paul
    Don is just incredible, I dig him the most with Bickert I think
  4. Don is just out of this world. Not human, probably. Too talented for a human being.

    Check his work with Jim Hall in the 70s and early 80s. His phrasing...
  5. Those are still my favorites, Fabian. Also, the one with Paul Desmond.
    I have some tapes of the trio with Jim and Terry. They do "How Deep is The Ocean" and during the exchange with the drums, Jim and Don change the tonal center together.
    I first met Don and Terry when I was with Bill. They were playing across the street with John Handy and would come over between sets. Don remembered that during his visit here.
    He came in to hear our bass/guitar duo (with Dale Bruning). There was a piano out in the hotel foyer, so we moved out there and he played a set with us on piano. If he'd asked to play some bass I woulda told him to just leave. :eek:
  6. Steve, those videos are just great, thanks for sharing them!
  7. I can think of few other professions in which a threat like that would be considered a compliment of the highest order.
  8. Was he that good at the three instruments already at those years, Paul?

    Now, a few things that always strike me about Don, and this bass video shows one more time:

    -great tone
    -great intonation
    -his phrasing...
    -he plays jazz lines, not jazz bass lines... Put that solo, note by note, on a trumpet, and it will be a great jazz solo, within the jazz language, except that it wouldn't have trumpet pyrotechnic stuff. (I hope I'm explaining myself right).

    Did I mention his phrasing?
  9. I guess I first heard him with Jim. Yeah, he was always that good. Jim told me about him in about 1970 when we did a gig here together. I had no idea he played piano until he did the sides with Jim in Japan.
    The remark you made about putting his solos through a trumpet or any other instrument is right on. Whitey Mitchell said something similar about his brother Red (my mentor and a big influence on Don). He said, and this was back in the 60's, something to the effect that if you took most bass solos and played them on a piano they would sound pretty weak.
    To your list of Don's strengths I would add something about his thumb position playing. He seems to get a bigger sound out of his bass up there than most guys do.
    I told him this at my house that day......he smiled and said: "Yeah, I pretty much made a career outta thumb position playing." The callus on the side of his thumb was bigger that my index finger callus.
    He and George Shearing were doing a concert with The Boston Symphony and one of the bassists in the section (it might have been Ed Barker who has a great sense of humor) yelled out to the bass section just before they started the rehearsal....."Hey, listen to this guy! He's almost a good as I am!" :hyper:
  10. bobsax


    Jan 16, 2011
    Southern Oregon
    Hello esteemed bassists .

    I was just listening to the Paul Desmond Quartet Live album for some ideas on playing Take Five. My memory was Desmond went major on the solo and I wanted to check it out to see what he did.

    They do indeed go to Eb major but Desmond starts playing the Hava Negila scale right off. (Flat 2 and 6)

    I also had it in my mind that they did it in E because the bass solo did a lot of drones on the E string but it was in Eb.

    So I guess Thompson tuned his E string down? Is this a common thing?
  11. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    DT's duo with John Abercrombie ("Witchcraft") is fantastic. DT plays both bass and piano on the album.

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