Sunday, February 14, 2010

Don Thompson on Vibraphone (among many other instruments)

Canadian jazz icon Don Thompson is an absolute force, being a master on no less than three instruments: Piano, Bass and Vibraphone (he's actually a very good drummer and a heck of a composer/composer/arranger too!)

I was fortunate to do some playing with Don while I lived in Toronto as he lived in my neighborhood. Don and I played in the Tom Van Seters Quartet and I was always blown away by his energetic and momentous rhythmic feel he generated on the vibes. From what I understand, back in his early Vancouver days, Don was highly influenced by West Coast vibraphonist Terry Gibbs. I think Don Thompson is an absolute genius on any instrument he chooses to play, but for some reason his vibraphone playing really moves me the most.

Featured in another great episode of Daniel Berman's Solos: The Jazz Sessions, here Thompson shows what he does best:

And here is a clip of Don Thompson guesting on vibraphone with the Joe Sullivan Big Band in Montreal:

Dig the great swinging, drumming from Montreal's Dave Laing on drums and Andre White on piano.

I recall Don getting quite excited when I told him I was learning to play the vibraphone.

"Playing the vibes is easy if you play already play the piano." Don explained to me, "You know, Phil Dwyer sounds like Bobby Hutcherson when he plays around on the vibes."

"Well Don, I don't really play the piano" I replied
(well I do play "arrangers" piano anyways)

"Oh, well then maybe playing the vibraphone won't be so easy..."

Haha....well, I'm still trying Don !

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