On Sunday, July 16, trumpeter, composer and Chicago scene luminary Malachi Thompson lost his battle with cancer. He was 56.
Thompson was best known for his tremendous range in style, a blend of free jazz, bop, soul and gospel. After moving to New York City from Chicago in the mid-1970s, Thompson played with Joe Henderson, Sam Wooding, Jackie McLean, Frank Foster, Sam Rivers and others. In 1978 Thompson formed the renowned Freebop band and in 1991 helmed Africa Brass, a big band who artfully meshed historical pre-swing jazz with bop and the avant-garde. Thompson also performed on albums by Gil Scott-Heron, Quincy Jones and Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy. Thompson was a staunch social activist, working with Dr. Martin Luther King’s Operation Breadbasket Orchestra in 1968, a project by Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.