Lucky Thompson – Complete Parisian Small Group Sessions 1956-1959 – 4CD
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4 CD Box Set including a 36-page booklet with comprehensive essay by Jordi Pujol, complete sessionography, extensive recording details, rare photos and original art covers.
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 Paris—like Don Byas and several others before him—hoping 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 Thompson’s stature in jazz; they show that his neglect was uncalled for, and that he was a superb fountain of finely-embroidered jazz improvisation.
1. Thin Ice - 4:49 2. A Minor Delight - 2:47 3. Takin' Care O'Business - 4:18 4. Ballad Medley: Sophisticated Lady / These Foolish Things - 6:22 5. One Cool Night - 3:43 6. The Man I Love - 4:35 7. There's No You - 4:40 8. Gone with the Wind - 2:55 9. Tight Squeeze - 2:36 10. You Go to My Head - 4:52 11. Undecided - 4:18 12. Don't Blame Me - 4:46 13. Our Love Is Here to Stay - 3:46 14. But Not for Me - 2:42 15. Indian Summer - 4:03 16. Tenderly - 3:35 17. I Can't Give You Anything But Love - 3:36 18. East of the Sun - 3:06 19. I Cover the Waterfront - 3:22
1. My Funny Valentine - 4:13 2. Lullaby in Rhythm - 3:21 3. You Are My Dream - 5:06 4. Lucky Strikes - 2:46 5. My Love Supreme - 2:19 6. Passin' Time - 3:57 7. Nothin' But the Soul - 4:46 8. Why Weep? - 4:22 9. To a Mornin' Sunrise - 5:16 10. Lullaby of the Leaves - 3:56 11. Fascinating Blues - 3:58 12. Let's Try Again - 6:26 13. Stewin' Up a Wig - 3:54 14. Rainbow Inn - 3:32 15. The World Awakes - 3:27 16. Take Care… Beware [Capricorn] - 3:45 17. My Heart Speaks - 4:27 18. Seeing is Believing - 3:54 19. Yard Bird's Pet - 3:42
1. You Move, You Lose - 2:43 2. Velvet Rain - 2:44 3. One Last Goodbye - 5:51 4. Fine and Lucky - 4:18 5. Ow! - 4:32 6. What is this Thing Called Love? - 4:38 7. Time on My Hands - 4:01 8. Everything Happens to Me - 4:41 9. Fine and Dandy - 4:05 10. I Should Care - 4:13 11. I Want a Little Girl - 3:36 12. Paris Blues - 7:15 13. Up Above My Head - 2:50 14. Minor Blues - 4:17 15. Sweet Georgia Brown - 5:04 16. How Long Blues - 4:18 17. Lucky T - 4:44 18. Embassy Boogie - 3:12
1. Now's the Time - 2:52 2. The Squirrel - 2:17 3. Stompin' at the Savoy - 2:36 4. Four - 2:44 5. Have You Met Miss Jones? - 3:35 6. Solitude - 3:28 7. Soul Food - 3:15 8. Pennies from Heaven - 4:01 9. How About You? - 5:40 10. Midnight Sun - 3:27 11. Tea for Two - 3:35 12. Brother Bob - 5:12 13. We'll Be Together Again - 4:44 14. O.W. - 5:01 15. Don't Blame Me - 5:07 16. Blues for Frank - 6:18 * 17. Takin' Care O'Business - 2:16 * 18. The World Awakes - 3:43 *
(*) Bonus Tracks
Original sources CD 1:
Tracks #1-5, from “Thompson Plays for Thomson” (Ducretet-Thomson 250 V 024)
UK issue “Lucky Thompson Quintet” (London/Ducretet-Thomson D93098)
Tracks #6-9, from the 10-inch album “Modern Jazz Group— Tentette and Quartet featuring Lucky Thompson” (Le Club Français du Disque 66)
Tracks #10-19, from the album “Lucky Thompson avec Gérard ‘Dave’ Pochonet et son quartette, Vol. 1” (Swing LDM 30.030)
Original sources CD 2:
Tracks #1-2 from the album “Lucky Thompson avec Gérard ‘Dave’ Pochonet et son quartette, Vol.1” (Swing LDM 30.030)
Tracks #3-5 from the 45 rpm EP “Jean-Pierre Sasson joue avec Lucky Thompson” (Columbia ESDF1105)
Tracks #6 & 9, from the 7-inch EP “Lucky Thompson avec Guy Lafitte”
(Columbia ESDF 1109)
Tracks #7 & 8, from the 7-inch EP “Lucky Thompson avec Guy Lafitte”
(Columbia ESDF 1110) Also issued on the 10-inch Lucky Thompson album
“To the Sax Paradise…” (Columbia FP 1083)
Tracks #10-13, from the album “Club Session nº IV — Dave Pochonet et son orchestre, avec Lucky Thompson” (Le Club Français du Disque 84)
Tracks #14-19, from the album “Lucky Thompson plays for the Club”
(Club des Amateurs du Disque, C.A.D. 3.001)
Original sources CD 3:
Tracks #1-3 from the 7-inch EP “Lucky Thompson and his Orchestra”
(Columbia ESDF 1113) Also issued on the 10-inch album
“Lucky Thompson — To the Sax Paradise…”(Columbia FP 1083)
Tracks #4-9, from the album “Lucky Thompson Plays for the Club”
(Club des Amateurs du Disque, C.A.D. 3.001)
Track #10, from the album “Lucky Thompson & Dave Pochonet All Stars”
(Le Club Français du Disque LP 84)
Tracks #11-18, from the album “Sammy Price & Lucky Thompson” (Polydor 46.103)
Original sources CD 4:
Tracks #1-4, from the 45 rpm EP “Kenny Clarke Quartet — Relax…”
(Columbia ESDF 1167)
Tracks #5-7, and 11 from the 7-inch EP “Lucky in Paris” (Symphonium 1230)
Tracks #8 & 13, from the 12-inch LP “Swingin’ in Paris—Gerard ‘Dave’ Pochonet and
his French All-Stars” (Taureau (USA) SW-3301)
Tracks #9,10,12 & 14, from the Symphonium sessions
Track #15, from the INA archives
Track #16, from “Thompson Plays for Thomson” (Ducretet-Thomson 250 V 024)
Tracks #17 & 18, from the 45 rpm EP “Lucky Thompson und das Jack Sels Sextett —Bongo Jazz” (Berthelsman 66126)
Personnel on CD 1
Tracks #1-5: Lucky Thompson Quintet
Emmett Berry, trumpet (out on #1); Lucky Thompson, tenor sax; Henri Renaud, piano (out on #1); Benoit Quersin, bass; Gérard Pochonet, drums.
Recorded in Paris, France, February 21-22, 1956
Tracks #6-9: Lucky Thompson Quartet
Lucky Thompson, tenor sax; Henri Renaud (as Henri Duaner), piano; Benoit Quersin, bass; Christian Garros, drums.
Recorded in Paris, France, March 7, 1956
Tracks #10-15: Lucky Thompson & Dave Pochonet Quartet
Lucky Thompson, tenor sax; Michel Hausser, vibes; Martial Solal, piano; Jean-Pierre Sasson (as 'Sir' John Peter) guitar; Benoit Quersin, bass; Gérard Pochonet, drums.
Recorded in Paris, France, March 14, 1956
Tracks #16-19: Lucky Thompson & Dave Pochonet Quartet
Lucky Thompson, tenor sax; Michel Hausser, vibes (out on #19); Martial Solal, piano; J.P. Sasson (as 'Sir' John Peter) guitar; Pierre Michelot, bass; Gérard Pochonet, drums.
Recorded in Paris, France, March 24, 1956
Personnel on CD 2
Tracks #1-2: Lucky Thompson & Dave Pochonet Quartet
Lucky Thompson, tenor sax; Michel Hausser, vibes; Martial Solal, piano; Jean-Pierre Sasson (as 'Sir' John Peter), guitar; Pierre Michelot, bass; Gérard Pochonet, drums.
Recorded in Paris, France, March 24, 1956
Tracks #3-5: Lucky Thompson & Jean-Pierre Sasson Trio
Lucky Thompson, tenor sax; Jean-Pierre Sasson, guitar; Paul Rovere, bass; Gérard Pochonet, drums.
Recorded in Paris, France, March 27, 1956
Tracks #6-9: Lucky Thompson Quartet with Guy Lafitte
Lucky Thompson, Guy Lafitte, tenor sax (out on #9); Martial Solal, piano; Benoit Quersin, bass; Roger Paraboschi, drums.
Recorded in Paris, France, April 5, 1956
Tracks #10-13: Lucky Thompson & Dave Pochonet All Stars
Lucky Thompson, tenor sax; Martial Solal, piano; Jean-Pierre Sasson, guitar; Benoit Quersin, bass; Gérard Pochonet, drums. Charles Verstraete, trombone, and Michel de Villers, baritone sax added on #11-13.
Recorded in Paris, France, April 16, 1956
Tracks #14-19: Lucky Thompson Quartet & Quintet
Charles Verstraete, trombone (out on #17,19); Lucky Thompson, tenor sax; Martial Solal, piano (out on #18,19); Benoit Quersin, bass; Gérard Pochonet, drums.
Recorded in Paris, France, April 18, 1956
Personnel on CD 3
Tracks #1-3: Lucky Thompson Quartet
Lucky Thompson, tenor sax; Martial Solal, piano; Benoit Quersin, bass; Roger Paraboschi, drums.
Recorded in Paris, France, April 20, 1956
Tracks #4-9: Lucky Thompson Quintet
Charles Verstraete, trombone (#4,6,7,9); Michel de Villers, baritone sax (#5,8,9)
Lucky Thompson, tenor sax; Martial Solal, piano; Benoit Quersin, bass; Gérard Pochonet, drums.
Recorded in Paris, France, April 25, 1956
Track #10: Dave Pochonet All Stars Featuring Lucky Thompson
Fernand Verstraete, trumpet; Lucky Thompson, tenor sax; Henri Renaud, piano; Benoit Quersin, bass; Gérard Pochonet, drums.
Recorded in Paris, France, May 11, 1956
Tracks #11-18: Sammy Price & Lucky Thompson Quintet
Lucky Thompson, tenor sax; Sammy Price, piano, and vocals (on #11,13,16,18); Jean-Pierre Sasson, guitar; Pierre Michelot, bass; Gérard Pochonet, drums.
Recorded at Theatre Pigalle, Paris, France, July 6, 1957
Personnel on CD 4
Tracks #1-4: Kenny Clarke Quartet featuring Lucky Thompson
Lucky Thompson, tenor; Martial Solal, piano; P.Michelot, bass; Kenny Clarke, drums.
Recorded at Pathé Marconi Boulogne Studios, Paris, France, September 26, 1957
Tracks #5-10: Lucky Thompson with the Gerard Pochonet Orchestra
Lucky Thompson, tenor and soprano sax (#5,9,10); Michel Hausser, vibes; Martial Solal, piano; Gilbert Gassin, bass; Gérard Pochonet, drums. On #7 only Lucky Thompson, tenor sax, and Prinz Ghana M’Bow, conga.
Recorded in Paris, France, January 14, 1959
Tracks #11-14: Lucky Thompson with the Gerard Pochonet Orchestra
Lucky Thompson, tenor sax; Michel Hausser, vibes; Martial Solal, piano; Gilbert Gassin, bass; Gérard Pochonet, drums. On #12 only Lucky Thompson, soprano sax, and Prinz Ghana M’Bow, conga.
Recorded in Paris, France, January 15, 1959
Track #15: Lucky Thompson-Jack Dieval Quartet
Lucky Thompson, tenor sax; Jacques 'Jack' Dieval, piano; Jacques B. Hess, bass; Jacques David, drums.
Recorded in Paris, France, March 25, 1959
Track #16: Emmett Berry Quartet
Emmett Berry, trumpet; Henri Renaud, piano; Benoit Quersin, bass; Gérard Pochonet, drums.
Recorded in Paris, France, February 22, 1956
Tracks #17-18: Lucky Thompson Quartet
Lucky Thompson, tenor and soprano (#18) sax; Fats Sadi, vibes; Benoit Quersin, bass
Prinz Ghana M’Bow, bongos.
Recorded in Cologne, Germany, February 7, 1959
1. Down Beat - Ron Hart (December, 2017)
"Tenor saxophonist Lucky Thompson (1924–2005) worked in some of the most famous jazz orchestras of the 1940s and early ’50s, playing in big bands led by such swing icons as Billy Eckstine, Lionel Hampton and Count Basie. He was one of the first African Americans in Boyd Raeburn’s legendary orchestra. Thompson often found himself on the bandstand situated in proximity to such future giants as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus, Leo Parker and many more. According to jazz critics of the time, Thompson was in the same league as these extraordinary gentlemen, garnering comparisons to modern jazz pioneers such as Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young in the pages of publications like DownBeat and Esquire.
But the intriguing thing about Thompson was that he clearly didn’t suffer fools gladly. His quickness to call out club owners or music industry executives who did him wrong earned him a reputation for being difficult, costing him gigs both at clubs and in the studio.
Tired of petty politics, Thompson relocated to Paris in 1956, where he would spend the remainder of the decade honing his craft in the small-band format with some of the hottest players in French jazz. He frequently collaborated with pianist Martial Solal, and he worked with a rotating combo consisting of such young Parisian lions as guitarist Jean-Pierre Sasson, bassist Benoit Quersin and drummer Gérard “Dave” Pochonet. He also shared the bandstand with fellow American expats, like trumpeter Emmett Berry, drummer Kenny Clarke and pianist Sammy Price.
Recorded in mono, the four-disc set Complete Parisian Small Group Sessions 1956–1959 (FSRCD 933) documents Thompson’s transition from a blacklisted freelance musician in the States to one of the most respected and in-demand leaders on the Parisian scene. His work in the quartet and quintet formats allowed him to explore the feather-light intimacies of melody, rhythm and texture, expressing himself in a way that would have been difficult, if not impossible, in a big band.
For fans who prefer to hear Thompson in the throes of a large ensemble, there’s a companion disc, Lucky Thompson In Paris 1956 (FSRCD 938), which shines a light on the saxophonist’s All Star Orchestra Sessions. On the first of these sessions, Thompson joined the 10-piece Modern Jazz Group to play five compositions written by pianist Henri Renaud (including “Meet Quincy Jones”) and arranged to highlight the newly arrived saxophonist. For the remaining three sessions, Thompson and Pochonet co-led medium-sized all-star groups that played originals like Sasson’s “Portrait Of Django” and Thompson’s “Still Waters,” as well as an arrangement of Count Basie and Neal Hefti’s “Bluebeard Blues.”
The pleasures of hearing this unsung tenor master overcome the dogma of his homeland and reinvent his legacy as a leader makes these reissues a revelation, especially if you are a fan of the embryonic stage of modern jazz.
Moreover, Thompson’s life story illustrates a vitally important lesson: If you are true to yourself and to your beliefs, despite the forces of oppression in your vicinity, you might find another place in this world where behavior once perceived as difficult is considered dynamic."
2. New Jersey Jazz Society - Joe Lang - November, 2017
"Tenor saxophonist Lucky Thompson was a player who never garnered the recognition that he deserved. His outspoken distaste for the business side of the music business gave him a reputation as difficult, and his playing opportunities became more and more limited. By the mid-1950s he made a move to Paris hoping to find conditions more to his liking. He was immediately accepted by the French musicians, and in the years between 1956 and 1959 he recorded many small group sessions, and a few with larger ensembles. The former are gathered on a magnificent four CD set, Complete Parisian Small Group Sessions 1956-1959 (FSRCD 933).
There are 19 small group sessions, seven with Thompson as the leader, four co-led with drummer Dave Pochonet, one co-led with guitarist Jean-Pierre Sasson, one co-led with pianist/singer Sammy Price, one co-led with pianist Jack Dieval, three with groups led by Dave Pochonet, one with a group led by drummer Kenny Clarke, and one led by trumpeter Emmett Berry on which Thompson does not appear. The earliest was recorded on February 21-22, 1956, with the latest dating from March 25, 1959. Thompson’s playing throughout is masterful and impressive. His ballad work is exquisite, sensitive and light-toned in the Lester Young mode or infused with Ben Websterish breathiness. On the more up-tempo pieces he swings mightily. Equally impressive is the quality of his appealing original compositions. There is a lot of music to enjoy and absorb in this collection. Do not be surprised to find yourself returning often to these discs to savor the artistry of Lucky Thompson.
While Thompson’s playing is the focus of these recordings, the quality of the French players is also impressive. Particularly notable are pianist Martial Solal and drummer Gérard “Dave” Pochonet. Solal has been a major figure on the international jazz scene for well over 60 years, and is still active at the age of 90. Pochonet also had a busy career, eventually settling in the United States.
Jordi Pujol is to be commended for making this music widely available again, and in great sound. He has also contributed informative notes to both of these items."
3. jazzweekly.com - George W. Harris - October 23, 2017
"One of the truly sad stories of jazz is the career arc of “Lucky” Thompson, who, as the excellent liner notes from the 4-CD set state, couldn’t have been a more ironic moniker. He had a smooth tone akin to Lester Young, a harmonic sophistication similar to Coleman Hawkins and a style that fit in with either bebop, swing or hard bop. He is on a handful of seminal sessions with Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk, but he’s best known for his classic solo on Miles Davis’ “Walkin’.” He put out an impressive catalogue on his own, but for various reasons, he slipped through the cracks, ending up dying on the streets of Seattle a number of years ago. Sad but true.
Once you listen to the 4-CD small group session as well as the single disc big band album from his stint in the late 50s (FSRCD 938), you’ll get obsessed over this guy. Every standard that he interprets sounds fresh and vibrant, and his own material is sleek and clever. His warm breathy tone throughout is palpable and inviting, making modern tenor players sound either pale or cacophonic in comparison.
The 4 disc set has him mixed and matched with French and occasional American sidemen, including Emmett Berry/tp, Henri Renaud/p, Pierre Michelot/b, Jean-Pierre Sasson/g, Kenny Clarke/dr and for most of the part, Martial Solal on piano. On a handful of tunes, he plays a lithe soprano sax as on the gorgeous “Have You Met Miss Jones?” a cozy “How About You?” and glowing “Midnight Sun” but for the most part it’s his foggy tenor that carries the weight here.
Standout tracks include a quartet session that features an irresistible “The Man I Love” and “Gone With The Wind” as well as a quintet with vibes that has Thompson floating on “Tenderly” and “East Of The Sun.” A larger ensemble with baritone sax and trombone includes a bopping read of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Ow” as well as a bouncy “Fine and Dandy” while a session with Thompson and Clarke sizzle on bebopping beauties “Now’s the Time” and “The Squirrel’ while Thompson’s take on Miles Davis’ “Four” is even more lyrical than the composer’s. Go figure THAT one out!
Both sets (small groups & orchestra sessions) have complete session listings and come with insightful notes to give you the background on this poor soul who owned the tenor sax. After even just one listen, you’re gonna think to yourself “How have I missed out on this guy?” Well, just like salvation and the right lady for you, just be glad it finally arrives!"
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