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Lucky In Paris

Lucky Thompson

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Album Review

Saxophonist Lucky Thompson deserves more credit for not only being an original jazz stylist, but one who also played with soul, passion, and verve. This recording is as finely crafted as anything Thompson recorded, and maybe more so because the empathy and interaction between him and his bandmates, especially the brilliant Algerian pianist Martial Solal, comes through on this date with alarming consistency. Though mostly known as a tenor man, Thompson's soprano playing is quite arresting. His primarily eighth-note phrasings have a distinct Parisian quality, more reminiscent of a harmonica or clarinet. The first two cuts, "How About You" and "Midnight Sun," display this attitude, and make you wonder if maybe John Coltrane or Steve Lacy were listening and absorbing in the wings. It's quite different than any other approach to soprano heard thereafter. Of course, Thompson's throaty, lugubrious, soulful sound on tenor is irresistible, especially on a ballad like "Solitude." It's a treat to hear Thompson not only in such a sympathetic and well-recorded setting, but as relaxed yet freewheeling as you want with respect to the tricky science of improvising. There are two cuts with just Lucky and percussionist Gana M'bow, and they hint at a pre-eminent world music aesthetic, but most are swingers, featuring the underrated French drummer Dave Pochonet, who shines as brightly as Solal. Vibist Michel Hausser gets little solo space, but there's some nice unison dealings on Dizzy Gillespie's "Ow." Overall, this is an extraordinary session, with ten cuts clocking in just shy of 44 minutes of sheer jazz delight. Lucky Thompson is as precious as gold, and any fortunate opportunity to hear him in such a positive setting has to be worth the price. This might very well be his best recording. Highly recommended. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Biography

Born: 16 June 1924 in Columbia, SC

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Born in Columbia, SC, on June 16, 1924, tenor saxophonist Lucky Thompson bridged the gap between the physical dynamism of swing and the cerebral intricacies of bebop, emerging as one of his instrument's foremost practitioners and a stylist par excellence. Eli Thompson's lifelong nickname — the byproduct of a jersey, given him by his father, with the word "lucky" stitched across the chest — would prove bitterly inappropriate: when he was five, his mother died, and the remainder of his...
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Lucky In Paris, Lucky Thompson
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