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December 1999

Lucky Thompson
Lucky in Paris
HighNote Records

It's been 25 years since tenor saxophonist Eli "Lucky" Thompson disappeared from the music scene, tired of being manipulated by the "vultures" of the music business; so reissues such as this are more than postcards from the past: their rarity gives them an import not perhaps realized at the time. One of the best players of the '40s and '50s, he moved to France in 1956 and began working with, among others, pianist Marial Solal and drummer Gerard Ponchonet at a Paris club. Several record dates followed with this mostly quartet 1959 session featuring both Solal (sensational!) and Ponchonet (tight and swinging) with vibist Michel Hausser soloing in his best Bags-bag on numbers like the up tempo "Pennies from Heaven" and "Tea for Two." Thompson's majestic, full-bodied tenor leaps out on six of this CD's ten tracks-dig his "Solitude." He makes his recorded debut on soprano sax on the others, his clear tone perfectly suited to "Midnight Sun." A terrifically varied (albeit short) program with impeccable accompaniment puts this in the "must buy" category.

Originally published in December 1999
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