Eddie Thompson

Eddie Thompson was born May 31, 1925 in Shoreditch (London). Blind since birth, he attended Linden Lodge School for the Blind in Wandsworth, followed by George Shearing at Dorton House Seal and Sevenoaks during World War II. After being introduced to jazz by his family radio, he was amazed at the greats like Fats Waller, Earl Hines and Art Tatum. He was a strong personality and a passionate jazz lover that led to him being unable to complete his formal education. By 1947, he was a part of the London jazz scene, playing with Ronnie Scott and Vic Ash. His jazz income was always low and he found a job as a piano tuner to help him. His first recording was with the Johnny Dankworth quartet, which featured Vic Feldman as a drummer. He was at his best playing bop and mainstream music throughout the fifties, establishing his reputation as a top London musician. He decided to move to New York in 1962 because he felt that he needed the challenge that New York can offer jazz musicians. Between 1963 and 1967, he was granted a Hickory House residency and made many musical friends, including Erroll Garner, Duke Ellington, and Thelonious monk. He returned to London in 1972, despite his growing popularity in New York. His trio was in high demand in London. He was a regular at the BBC Jazz Club, recorded for Doug Dobell’s label 77 and German BASF labels. As soloists from America increased, he became a first-call accompanist. Eddie was known for his incredible technique and knowledge of hundreds of tunes, with a preference to Gershwin. When he felt the need, he could also drop into the music of Nat Cole, Garner, Peterson and Peterson. He recorded a number of recordings for HEP in the late seventies and early 80s as both a soloist and as an equal musical partner with Roy Williams, Spike Robinson, and tenor saxest Spike Robinson. These recordings are widely regarded as his best work. He was blind, but he bravely travelled by train to London clubs by Underground and to clubs across the UK, often with Maida, his faithful guide dog. Unfortunately, his lifelong smoking habits led to him developing emphysema, which ultimately resulted in his premature death on November 6, 1986. His playing became incredibly popular in Japan in the late 80s. He would have laughed at such an irony. From www.hepjazz.com

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