Jazz CD Reviews

Rich Thompson – Less is More – Origin Records

A cast of heavyweight talent…

Published on April 23, 2013

Rich Thompson – Less is More – Origin Records 82636, 58:22 ****½:

(Rich Thompson, drums; Terell Stafford, trumpet and flugelhorn; Doug Stone, tenor sax; Gary Versace, piano and Hammond B-3 organ; Jeff Campbell, bass)

Origin Records has pulled in first string talent for drummer Rich Thompson’s second release for the label. Thompson, who has been a jazz educator for the Eastman School of Music, as well as having a tenure with a Count Basie tribute band, has a quintet with all-star pedigree, including the virtuosic trumpeter Terrell Stafford, and multi-instrumentalist Gary Versace, both who also play in Matt Wilson’s group.

The selection of material for Less is More is also top notch with standards like “Lotus Blossom,” “I Didn’t Know What Time it Was,” and Joe Henderson’s “Step Lightly” sharing the session with Rich’s title track and band member Campbell’s “Hoot Gibson.”

Right off, Kenny Dorham’s “Lotus Blossom” sets the stage for Stafford to blow in the burnished tone which is instantly recognizable. Stafford is among the hottest trumpeters on the scene today, and he takes off here with a vengeance. Versace has several choruses to shine backed by Thompson’s deft stick work. Campbell shows his bass prowess on his track, “Hoot Gibson” backed by Versace’s Hammond, and Stafford’s brash trumpet.

The Rogers/Hart standard, “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” gets a Brazilian/Caribbean lilt by Thompson, and is a feature for Doug Stone’s hot tenor sax. “Camping Out” is a mellow ballad that Stafford’s muted trumpet makes special. The title track follows with mid-register tasty licks again from Mr. Stafford. Ornette Coleman’s “Invisible” has a Monkish start/stop melody. Versace is highlighted here on piano with Campbell keeping steady time. “It’s So Easy to Remember” lets Terrell show his lyrical chops, while Wayne Shorter’s “This is for Albert” features Versace’s Hammond swirling behind Stafford. Thompson is nicely upfront in the mix with cymbals snapping.

“Step Lightly,” with its catchy Joe Henderson melody, gives Doug Stone another opportunity to blow, this time blues heavy.  If Less is More is an accurate description of Thompson’s sophomore effort, then I can hardly wait for what a quartet setting might bring in the future. I’d always include Terrell Stafford, though….

TrackList: Lotus Blossom, Hoot Gibson, I Didn’t Know What Time it Was, Camping Out, Less is More, Invisible, It’s So Easy to Remember, This is for Albert, I’ve Never Been in Love Before, Step Lightly

—Jeff Krow

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