Hit From the Git is the latest installment in the recording career of pianist Bob Thompson thatâ€™s spanned nearly five decades. â€œHit from the Git has been an expression used within the band for some time now,â€ Thompson says of his gigging group, the Bob Thompson Unit. â€œIt means the music starts happening right from the first note, everybodyâ€™s into it and the musicâ€™s rollinâ€™.â€
And roll it does. From the opening drum solo of the title track to the rousing pinnacle of the closing jam, â€œBrotherâ€™s Keeper,â€ Hit from the Git is a smoking hot mixture of cool jazz, searing, groove oriented funk and iridescent, smoldering blues ballads comprised of six inventive originals and two imaginative interpretations of jazz standards. Thompsonâ€™s piano style, reminiscent of so many of the greats, settles nicely over top of the Unitâ€™s stylish and impeccable rhythmic interplay.
The BTU is smooth and mellow at one moment and the next itâ€™s hard and driving, indicating the wide array of influences the young jazz soldiers bring to the group: Ryan Kennedy on guitar, Timothy Courts behind the drums and Chris Allen on bass. The Unit also features the soaring sounds of veteran Bob Thompson associate Doug Payne on tenor sax and Electronic Wind Instrument.
â€œThe only reason I say itâ€™s â€˜contemporaryâ€™ is because itâ€™s what weâ€™re doing right now,â€ Thompson says speaking on â€˜jazzâ€™ as the moniker for his music, â€œMy roots are originally in more straight ahead jazz, so itâ€™s kind of nice to be able to find younger players that want to go back and do some of the more traditional stuff, and then bring a more contemporary edge to the music.â€
He continues, â€œIâ€™m not really trying to categorize the music, by saying â€˜All right we have to stay in a particular direction.â€™ Whatever you have to say is what you have to say. If I try to define and structure everything, Iâ€™m limiting the possibilities. When you get five people together and everybodyâ€™s bringinâ€™ it, the end product is going to be greater than the sum of the parts. What ends up happening is beyond what I couldâ€™ve imagined.â€
Of course, with a background this storied and accomplished, Thompson would have a hard time trying to fit in just one frame. As a teenager in New York in the late 1950â€™s, during the R&B vocal group era, Thompson stepped up to the microphone for King Records as a member of The Chanters. In the 1980â€™s he recorded for Intima, a jazz imprint of Capitol Records. He then moved to Atlanta based Ichiban Records before forming his own independent label, Colortones.com. Since 1991 Thompson has been the house pianist for the internationally syndicated public radio program Mountain Stage. The Bob Thompson Unit continues to gig around the region and in Charleston, having just moved to their new home base, The Sound Factory on Kanawha Boulevard, where they perform every Tuesday night. - Adam Harris
Check out the artist's website:
1. Hit From The Git
2. Hold The Groove
3. Still Waters
4. La Luna
5. Afro Blue
6. Donna Lee
7. Blues For America
8. Brother's Keeper