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Ed Thigpen: Scantet #1

Ed Thigpen is one of those jazz artists living abroad who should be more widely recognized in his native country. Since moving to Copenhagen in 1972, the Chicago native and longtime drummer with the Oscar Peterson Trio (1959-1965) has been hailed throughout Europe but can’t get arrested Stateside. Time to give it up to “Mr. Taste,” who at 73 is still swinging as convincingly and creatively as his venerable colleagues Roy Haynes and Chico Hamilton. For his latest project, Thigpen has put together a group of talented young Scandinavian musicians: Jens Winther (trumpet), Tomas Franck (tenor sax), Kasper Villaume (piano) and Jesper Bodilsen (bass). Collectively known as the Scantet, they make an auspicious debut on Scantet #1 (Stunt). With his typically relaxed yet insistently swinging style, Thigpen makes everything feel good here, whether it’s the opening blues shuffle “Shake It Out,” his beautiful ballad “Wannabe,” underscored by his signature brushwork and highlighted by an outstanding flugelhorn solo from Winther, or the jaunty swinger “Thaddeus,” named for his former colleague Thad Jones. The Scantet offers a heartfelt medley of Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood” combined with Richard Rodgers’ “It Might As Well Be Spring,” again supported by Thigpen’s elegant brushwork and featuring strong solo contributions from trumpeter Winther and pianist Villaume. Thigpen revisits his own bebop roots on Benny Harris’ bouncing “Reets and I” and he demonstrates more spectacular drum prowess on the aptly named “Fast Train,” which opens with an unaccompanied burst of slick brushwork before the full band barrels in with their wheels spinning down the tracks. Don’t sleep on this master of the kit.

Originally Published