Joel Quarrington – “The Music of Don Thompson” – London Jazz News

Joel Quarington— The music of Don Thompson

(Modica music. Album review by Lavender Sutton)

Joel Quarington, is best known as a classical double bass player. For over forty years he has been principal double bass with numerous ensembles including the Canadian Opera Company, the Toronto Symphony and Canada’s National Arts Center Orchestra and most recently the London Symphony Orchestra.

His relationship with the jazz double bass player, pianist and vibraphonist, Don Thompson (b. 1940), is described as a unique meeting of jazz and classical musicians. Thompson, one of Canada’s top jazz musicians, speaks of Quarington’s playing with great fondness and writes in the liner notes to this album: “I figured this guy would be the greatest jazz bassist of all time if he ever decided to do it.” “

In 1989, Quarrington commissioned Thompson to compose a bass quartet for a concert at the conservatory where he taught. Thompson didn’t feel safe writing a traditionally “classical” quartet piece, so he composed something in which he himself would play pizzicato bass (jazz bass style). The track was so much fun and enough talk in the bass circle that it gave Quarrington the idea of ​​recording an entire album of Thompson’s tunes. Joel Quarrington – The Music of Don Thompson was born 35 years later.

This time, Roberto Occhipinti was asked to show the part that Thompson had originally and co-acted with him Travis Harrison and Joe Phillipsthe piece Quartet 89 was included for the first time.

A pizzicato solo opens the piece while occhipinti introduces the melody. The rest of the group joins in, bowing with long mournful phrases that almost breathe together. When the track finds its groove after about a third, it comes to life. Harrison, Phillips and Quarington weave together and paint the background for Occhipinti’s solo. Players then switch roles while pizzicato brings back the groove to allow each other’s emotional lines to come to the fore. The piece feels like a cinematic journey. It shows the skill of each instrumentalist and creates a lot of intrigue. Thompson’s harmonic choices blend genres beautifully. It would have been a magical concert – in person – to watch these four perform it live.

Other compositions on the album are all duo pieces for double bass and piano. This includes a piece dedicated to Keith Jarrett (one of his major influences on Thompson). Another time, another place. Quarrington’s beautiful vibrato as he plays the melodic lines and Thompson fills in the gaps with the higher register.

Eggerto is a Brazilian piece inspired by the music of Egberto Gismonti. Normally some sort of percussion would create the feeling often experienced with Brazilian music, while the gentle rocking of the bossa nova beat is maintained here by Thompson’s piano playing. And alternatively, the urgency that this music often takes from the music is carried forward by the bowed bass solos.

A quiet place was originally written for a concerto for Thompson’s jazz quintet and small string orchestra. It was written for Jim Vivian to play with the bow and Phil Dwyer doubling the melody on the soprano saxophone. Paired beautifully back here, both Thompson and Quarrington have the ability to practically make the piece sing. You can hear the pure joy and devotion of conveying this “quiet place” to the listener.

The first track on this album is the most beautiful of the selection. Again, Thompson explained in the liner notes that at a rehearsal for something, Quarrington had camped under the piano to get some rest and awoke to Thompson playing the song’s arrangement A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square. Quarrington enjoyed it so much that he recalled the experience and specifically asked Thompson to include an arrangement for her to play on this album.

The combination of Thompson’s enigmatic chord changes and Quarington’s heartfelt rendition of the melody is unprecedented. It’s evocative and rich, and the beautiful cadence at the end conveys the nostalgic meaning behind this selection.

Quarrington’s idea of ​​recording this project has resulted in a unique snapshot of a long friendship, open pathways between genres expressed through exceptional musicianship – an absolute pleasure to listen to.

SHORTCUT: The music of Don Thompson on Bandcamp

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