The Artistry of… Don Thompson

It is easy to say that he leads with generosity and the confidence of a mentor. It is easy to say that he has graced this country and the world with his artistry. It is easy to say that he has educated many, directly and indirectly — that so often, the experience of having the opportunity to work with him, speak with him, and be in his audience is a kind of education in the great music he plays, shares, and has created.

I say easy because his presence and his music-making accessibility makes for a kind of ease. It’s in the effortless way he plays and blends in, his ability to be a part of the band or in the background supporting in such a way that he allows a lead player or soloist confidence in their place down front. It is an artistic embrace.

As a soloist and lead, he is a storyteller who connects directly with the ear and soul of his audiences. He is a master arranger and multi-instrumentalist, often staggeringly all in one tune. A Canadian jazz treasure, he is well respected by his peers and those his presence continues to include. He does naturally what so many do who are able to give back, gently nudge forward, and be in step with, demanding quality. Every note matters. There are no throw-aways. He is an all-Canadian jazz jewel.

The Artistry of… is a weekly series that reflects on the passion and essence of an artist. It airs Wednesday evenings on Dinner Jazz with John Devenish.