Charles Thompson (jazz)

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"Sir" Charles Thompson
Birth name Charles Phillip Thompson
Born (1918-03-21) March 21, 1918 (age 97)
Origin Springfield, Ohio, U.S.
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, arranger
Instruments Piano
Associated acts Earl Bostic, Coleman Hawkins

Charles Phillip Thompson (born March 21, 1918) is an American swing and bebop pianist, organist, composer and arranger.

Early life[edit]

Thompson was born in Springfield, Ohio on March 21, 1918.[1] His father was a minister and his stepmother played the piano.[1] "He first studied violin and briefly played tenor saxophone, but took up piano as a teenager."[1] He moved with his family to Parsons, Kansas, and he attended a Kansas City high school.[1]

By the age of twelve Thompson was playing private parties with Bennie Moten and his band in Colorado Springs.[citation needed] During this time Count Basie played off and on with Moten's band, and during a showing Basie called the young Thompson up to play.[citation needed] He was dubbed Sir Charles Thompson by Lester Young.[1]

Later life and career[edit]

Thompson has chiefly worked with small groups, although he belonged to the Coleman Hawkins/Howard McGhee band in 1944–1945.[2] Throughout the 1940s he played and recorded with Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis[3] and J.C. Heard, among others. He played with Lucky Millinder's big band in 1946, and under Illinois Jacquet in 1947–48 and 1952.[1] He worked freelance, principally on organ, for much of the 1950s.[1] He played with Parker again in 1953 and recorded with Vic Dickenson and Buck Clayton in 1953–54.[1]

Thompson worked with Earl Bostic in the late 1950s before heading his own quartet in 1959.[1] In the early 1960s he toured Europe and Canada with Clayton.[1] Thompson was in Europe again in 1964, with Jazz at the Philharmonic, and in 1967 for the show Jazz from a Swinging Era.[1] "Living variously on the West Coast, where he often worked with Vernon Alley, and in Toronto, Paris, and Zurich, he continued to lead small groups through the 1970s and 1980s."[1]

Thompson composed the jazz standard "Robbins' Nest".[2]

Today[when?] Thompson lives in California.


As leader[edit]

  • Takin' Off - Delmark Apollo Series
  • Sir Charles Thompson and Coleman Hawkins: For the Ears (1954–56) - Vanguard
  • Sir Charles Thompson and the Swing Organ (1959) - Columbia
  • Sir Charles: Rockin' Rhythm with Sir Charles at the Organ (1961) - Columbia
  • Hey There (1974) - Black & Blue
  • Robbins' Nest: Live at the Jazz Showcase (2000) - Delmark
  • I Got Rhythm: Live at the Jazz Showcase (2001) - Delmark

As sideman[edit]

With Joe Newman

With Paul Quinichette

With Harold Ashby and Paul Gonsalves

Main source:[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l DeVeaux, Scott; Kernfeld, Barry "Thompson, Sir Charles." The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz (2nd ed.). Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved July 7, 2015. Subscription required.
  2. ^ a b Ginell, Richard. "Sir Charles Thompson: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 21 March 2010. 
  3. ^ Carr, Ian (1991) (French) Miles Davis, p. 26. Editions Parenthèses. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
  4. ^ Cook, Richard and Morton, Brian (2008) The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings. (9th ed.). Penguin. p. 1400. ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0.