Don Thompson (musician)

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Don Thompson
Photo courtesy of the Fraser MacPherson estate
Photo courtesy of the Fraser MacPherson estate
Background information
Birth nameDonald Winston Thompson
Born (1940-01-18) 18 January 1940 (age 80)
Powell River, British Columbia, Canada
OriginToronto, Ontario, Canada
InstrumentsDouble bass, piano, vibraphone
Years active1960s–present
LabelsConcord, Jazz Alliance, Justin Time, Sackville, Brunswick, CBC

Donald Winston Thompson, OC[1] (born 18 January 1940) is a Canadian jazz musician who plays double bass, piano, and vibes.[2] Thompson formed part of the Toronto Quartet of Paul Desmond during the mid seventies, and that effort produced two albums. Other personnel on those dates, mostly at Bourbon Street in Toronto, were Toronto guitarist Ed Bickert and drummer Jerry Fuller. Thompson has been a fixture on the Toronto jazz scene since the late 1960s when he moved there from British Columbia. He played for a long time in Rob McConnell's Boss Brass.


Thompson was born 18 January 1940 Powell River, British Columbia, Canada.

He lived in Vancouver from 1960 to 1965, working as a freelance musician primarily on bass. He has appeared with jazz troupes led by Vancouver musicians such as Dave Robbins, Chris Gage and Fraser MacPherson, as well as leading his own musical groups. In addition to appearing regularly on CBC radio, he was also on television as a featured artist.

He returned to Canada in 1967 and has been a resident of Toronto since 1969. In that year he joined Rob McConnell's BOSS BRASS as a percussionist, switching to bass in 1971 and later to piano (1987–1993). He was also a member of Moe Koffman's group from 1970 to 1979 as pianist or bassist, contributing arrangements and compositions and working as co-producer with Koffman on two albums, Museum Pieces and Looking Up. He also worked extensively with guitarists Ed Bickert, Lenny Breau and Sonny Greenwich (whom he'd played with in the John Handy Quintet in the mid-60's) while keeping busy with his own various projects.

As a member of the "house rhythm section" at Toronto's Bourbon Street Jazz Club he worked with Paul Desmond, Jim Hall, Milt Jackson, Art Farmer, James Moody, Zoot Sims, Clark Terry, Harry Edison, Frank Rosolino, Slide Hampton, Lee Konitz and Abbey Lincoln, and appeared at other venues with Sarah Vaughan, Red Rodney, Joe Henderson, Dewey Redman, Red Mitchell, Sheila Jordan and Kenny Wheeler.

He became a member of guitarist Jim Hall's trio in 1974, travelling to Europe and Japan as well as touring the United States and Canada. In 1982 he joined pianist George Shearing and stayed for a five-year period during which he appeared at virtually every major jazz club and festival in the United States. Their travels also included tours of Great Britain and two trips to Brazil.

In 1996 he was artist in residence at the Royal Academy of Music, London, England, and performed in a concert of all-Canadian music with fellow Canadians Kenny Wheeler and Hugh Fraser. He teaches regularly at the Banff Centre for the Performing Arts along with other major international musicians.



As leader or co-leader[edit]

  • Country Place (PM, 1976)
  • Beautiful Friendship (Concord, 1984)
  • Music from the Movies (1989)
  • Witchcraft with John Abercrombie (Justin Time, 1991)
  • Winter Mist (Jazz Alliance, 1991)
  • Celebration (Jazz Focus, 1998)
  • At the Garden Party with Ed Bickert (Sackville, 2004)
  • Ask Me Later (CBC, 2007)
  • Forgotten Memories (Roadhouse, 2007)
  • One Take with Reg Schwager (Alma, 2007)
  • For Kenny Wheeler (Sackville, 2008)
  • Trio (2009)
  • George Shearing at Home with George Shearing (2013)
  • Look for the Silver Lining with Phil Dwyer (2013)
  • Some Other Spring (2014)[4]

As sideman[edit]

With Paul Desmond

With Sonny Greenwich

  • The Old Man and the Child (Sackville)
  • Sun Song (CBC)
  • Evol-lution Love's Reverse (PM)

With Jim Hall

  • Jim Hall Live! (A&M/Horizon, 1975)
  • Commitment (A&M/Horizon, 1976)
  • Jazz Impressions of Japan (A&M)
  • Live in Tokyo (Paddlewheel)
  • Circles (Concord)
  • Live at Town Hall (Musicmasters)

With John Handy

With Bill King

  • The Jazz Report All Stars (Radioland)

With Moe Koffman

  • Solar Explorations (GRT)
  • Museum Pieces (GRT)
  • Master Sessions (GRT)
  • Live at George's (GRT)

With Pat LaBarbera

  • Pass it On (PM)
  • Necessary Evil (CBC)

With Dave Liebman

  • Sweet Fury (BeBop to Now)

With Rob McConnell

  • Big Band Jazz (Umbrella)
  • Again (Umbrella)
  • Present Perfect (MPD)
  • Tribute (Pausa)
  • Live in Digital (SeaBreeze)
  • The Brass is Back (Concord)
  • Brassy and Sassy (Concord)
  • Our 25th Year (Concord)
  • Three for the Road (Concord)

With Jay McShann

  • Man from Muskogee (Sackville)
  • Tuxedo Junction (Sackville)
  • Just a Lucky So and So (Sackville)
  • Swingmatism (Sackville)

With Diana Panton

  • ...Yesterday Perhaps (2005)
  • If The Moon Turns Green (2007)
  • Pink (2009)
  • To Brazil With Love (2011)
  • Christmas Kiss (2012)
  • Red (2013)
  • I Believe In Little Things (2015)
  • Solstice / Equinox (2017)

With Emily Remler

  • Take Two (Concord)

With Frank Rosolino

  • Thinking of You (Sackville, 2014)

With George Shearing

With George Shearing and Mel Tormé

With Buddy Tate

  • The Ballad Artistry (Sackville)
  • Saturday Night Function (Sackville)

With Ed Bickert

  • At the Garden Party (Sackville, 1979)

With His West Coast Friends

  • Days Gone By (Atlas,1982)


  1. ^ a b "Donald Winston Thompson, O.C." Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 30 December 2010.
  2. ^ Cross, Dan. "Don Thompson". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Search Awards". The Juno Awards. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Don Thompson | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 September 2018.