Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lucky Thompson - Lucky Strikes

Few musicians are so misnamed as Lucky Thompson, a brilliant tenor and soprano saxophonist who ranked second only to Dexter Gordon as the greatest tenorist to come out of bop before the '50s. Yet Dexter's style was heavily imitated by later generations, making his music much less startling. Lucky sounds like no other player in the music's history. On this album he weaves shimmering, cascading lines on his tenor and soprano over a rhythm section made extraordinarily graceful by the presence of Hank Jones on piano. Richard Davis is good (though he would be better in his modal years on Blue Note) and drummer Connie Kay gives the proceedings an airy athleticism. Thompson's tone on tenor has lightened somewhat since his bebop days (no longer sound indebted to Don Byas) and he was perhaps the first true master of the soprano, playing it with a light yet forceful, vibrato-less tone. His improvisations are remarkably modern. His ideas threaten to fly right off the changes during his wonderfully constructed runs, and his vocabulary studiously omits blues and bop cliches. Those who know his music say he's one of the greatest sax players ever. If you buy this album you'll agree. Amazon User.


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