05 Don Thompson Rob PiltchBells… Then and Now
Don Thompson; Rob Piltch
Modica Music (modicamusic.bandcamp.com/album/bells-now-and-then)

Having grown up in Toronto and being interested in jazz music from a young age, the opportunities to hear Don Thompson on bass, piano and, less frequently, vibraphone were plentiful indeed. In fact, he was such a near-constant presence on this city’s live music scene that for me, the playing, compositions, and more generally, the sound of Thompson’s various projects and performances were the very essence of Toronto jazz from that time. As such, when I listened to Bells… Now and Then, a re-release of Thompson and guitarist Rob Piltch’s great 1982 recording Bells, bookended here with two terrific and newly recorded additional tracks, I was instantly transported to a familiar and welcome place of musical memory.

Originally released on Umbrella Records, Bells, paired Thompson with then-24-year-old guitarist, Rob Piltch. The result is an intimate duo performance that demonstrates the ways in which Thompson was so good when working with guitarists, while situating Piltch in a long line of accomplished guitar players who worked as creative foils for Thompson (Sonny Greenwich, Ed Bickert, Lenny Breau, John Abercrombie, Jim Hall, Emily Remler, Reg Schwager). Whether it is the Sonny Rollins-esque vibe of Mike Malone’s Caribe, or the immediately recognizable vibe that the initial chord change inculcates at the beginning of Thompson’s truly beautiful composition September, listeners who are old enough to remember Toronto’s aforementioned jazz history will be served a happy auditory reminder of days gone by, while new listeners now have the exciting prospect of wonderful music to explore. Thanks to Roberto Occhipinti and Modica Music for both re-releasing this fine recording, and for adding two new tracks of Thompson and Piltch’s important contributions to the Canadian jazz discography and canon.

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