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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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The Bosendorfer Concert 1980

Hep CD 2102



1.On Green Dolphin Street

2.The JAMFs Are Coming

3.Baubles, Bangles and Beads

4.Theme from MASH (Suicide is Painless)

5.Autumn Nocturne*

6.Satin Doll

7.Robbin's Nest

8.Sweet Georgia Brown

Personnel: Eddie Thompson (piano), Pete Taylor (bass), Pete Stables (drums)

Eddie Thompson (solo)*

Recorded: 23 November 1980, Palace Theatre, Mansfield, Nottingham [59:55]

Eddie Thompson (1925-1986), the blind British jazz pianist, was born in London and attended Linden Lodge, Wandsworth, the same school for the blind as George Shearing. Early influences included Fats Waller, Earl Hines and Art Tatum. In the forties he recorded with Victor Feldman, and from 1959-1960 was house pianist at Ronnie Scotts. He had his own trio and quintet. He then spent ten years in the States, performing at Hickory House for five years, and making acquaintance with the likes of Duke Ellington, Erroll Garner and Thelonious Monk. He returned to the UK in 1972, where he became a regular fixture on the club scene. A heavy smoker, he died of emphysema in 1986, aged only sixty-one.

The concert showcases the Bosendorfer Imperial Grand Piano, courtesy of Stuart Russell, a Thompson fan who acted as agent for the Viennese firm, arranging the loan of this fine instrument. He recalls the logistical problems of installing the one-ton beast onto the stage. Boasting an extra octave in the bass, Eddie exploits it’s potential to the full. The ‘two Petes’ who collaborate on this occasion were regular partners of the pianist on his north England gigs. There’s a tangible rapport between all three, evident in the electrifying music-making.

The JAMFs Are Coming is a throwback to his Ronnie Scott days and, as for the title, he didn’t let on to the audience the meaning, which is an acronym for a coarse American slang phrase. It explores the full Bosendorfer range, with the richness of that extra octave bass making it’s presence truly felt. In Baubles, Bangles and Beads, Thompson’s imagination and improvisatory skills illuminate this well-known melody in a delightful arrangement. He takes the spotlight in Autumn Nocturne, the only solo item on the disc – eloquent as only he can be. The trio pull all the stops out for Sweet Georgia Brown, Thompson’s prodigious technique and virtuosity highly reminiscent of Tatum.

Writing this review, I notice that a volume 2 is advertised for release in the coming weeks, presumably the remainder of the concert reproduced exactly in the same order as it was played on that evening in 1980’, as the promotional material states. It’s disappointing that potential purchasers have to buy two separate albums; it would have made more sense to have issued the concert complete as a twofer in the first place – ours is not to reason why!

Stephen Greenbank

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