Don Thompson

(William) Don or 'D.T.' Thompson. Saxophonist, composer, arranger, b Drumheller, Alberta, 19 Sep 1932, d Vancouver 21 Mar 2004. He played saxophone and clarinet at 12 and began promoting his own jazz concerts, 'Jammin' the Blues,' in Edmonton at 17.

Thompson, Don (D.T.)

(William) Don or 'D.T.' Thompson. Saxophonist, composer, arranger, b Drumheller, Alberta, 19 Sep 1932, d Vancouver 21 Mar 2004. He played saxophone and clarinet at 12 and began promoting his own jazz concerts, 'Jammin' the Blues,' in Edmonton at 17. He moved to Toronto in 1952, then toured 1954-8 in Canada and the US with Anne Marie Moss. Save for a period 1965-6 with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra in the US, Thompson was a mainstay of the Toronto jazz scene through the 1960s. During the early 1960s he led singer Tommy Ambrose in a big band ensemble. Thompson appeared regularly at the First Floor Club with small groups and a big band (1959-65), and was seen in the NFB's Toronto Jazz (1962) with a quintet. He also performed on many CBC TV pop music shows (eg, Club Six and Music Hop) and played in several Toronto studio orchestras.

In 1961 Thompson recorded as a member of the Pat Riccio big band in Ottawa and in 1963 with pianist Wray Downes and trombonist Rob McConnell. He also released a record as part of a quintet that included trumpeter Fred Stone.

After touring 1971-81 and recording with Anne Murray, Thompson returned to jazz. By then, he had moved from his early bebop-based style to a simpler, full-toned, melodic approach in the manner of a Stanley Turrentine. His bonhomie as a performer brought him annual Christmas/New Year's engagements during the 1980s at George's Spaghetti House. Thompson wrote and recorded several jazz themes; his pop-song arrangements appear on albums by Murray, John Allan Cameron and Gordon Lightfoot. Thompson's brother Lloyd (b Drumheller 4 Nov 1933) worked during the late 1950s in Europe as a bassist with such noted jazz musicians as Dizzy Reece and Don Byas.


Further Reading

  • Norris, John. 'Profile: Don Thompson,' Coda, vol 4, May 1962

    Miller, Mark. 'Thompson's high spirits give his sound swing,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 10 Sep 1984