Charles Phillip Thompson (March 21, 1918 – June 16, 2016) was an American swing and bebop pianist, organist, composer, and arranger.
Thompson was born in Springfield, Ohio, on March 21, 1918. His father was a minister and his stepmother played the piano. "He first studied violin and briefly played tenor saxophone, but took up piano as a teenager." He moved with his family to Parsons, Kansas, and he attended a Kansas City high school.
By the age of twelve, Thompson was playing private parties with Bennie Moten and his band in Colorado Springs. 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. He was dubbed Sir Charles Thompson by Lester Young.
Later life and career
Thompson chiefly worked with small groups, although he belonged to the Coleman Hawkins/Howard McGhee band in 1944–1945. Throughout the 1940s he played and recorded with Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis 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. He worked freelance, principally on organ, for much of the 1950s. He played with Parker again in 1953 and recorded with Vic Dickenson and Buck Clayton in 1953–54.
Thompson worked with Earl Bostic in the late 1950s before heading his own quartet in 1959. In the early 1960s he toured Europe and Canada with Clayton. Thompson was in Europe again in 1964, with Jazz at the Philharmonic, and in 1967 for the show Jazz from a Swinging Era. "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." He composed the jazz standard "Robbins' Nest".
He died on June 16, 2016 at the age of 98 in a hospital near Tokyo, Japan. He had lived in the country with his wife Makiko since 2002. His daughter, with blues/jazz singer Lauricia Lorraine Balsz, is singer-songwriter Tina Hoffman.
Takin' Off (Delmark)
Sir Charles Thompson and Coleman Hawkins: For the Ears (Vanguard, 1954–56)
Sir Charles Thompson and the Swing Organ (Columbia, 1959)
Sir Charles: Rockin' Rhythm with Sir Charles at the Organ (Columbia, 1961)
Hey There (Black & Blue, 1974)
Robbins' Nest: Live at the Jazz Showcase (Delmark, 2000)
I Got Rhythm: Live at the Jazz Showcase (Delmark, 2001)
With Joe Newman
The Count's Men (Jazztone, 1955)
I Feel Like a Newman (Storyville, 1956)
With Paul Quinichette
Moods (EmArcy, 1954)
With Harold Ashby and Paul Gonsalves
Tenor Stuff (1961)
With Ike Quebec
The Complete Blue Note 45 Sessions (Blue Note, 1960–2)