Sir Charles Thompson

I Got Rhythm: Live at the Jazz Showcase

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Arguably, Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase is to Chicago what the Village Vanguard is to New York: the city's most legendary and prestigious jazz club (which isn't to take anything away from the Green Mill, the Bop Shop, and other well-respected Windy City jazz venues). The Jazz Showcase regularly attracts jazz's major names, so it isn't surprising that Delmark would record more than one Sir Charles Thompson album there. First came 2000's Robbins' Nest: Live at the Jazz Showcase, then, in 2001, Delmark recorded and released I Got Rhythm, which has the same subtitle. This swing-to-bop CD finds an 83-year-old Thompson joined by the same musicians who accompany him on Robbins' Nest; the veteran pianist forms an acoustic trio with bassist Ed de Haas and drummer Charles Braugham, and the trio becomes a quartet when saxman/clarinetist Eric Schneider is featured on seven selections. Not many surprises occur -- most of the standards that Thompson picks have been recorded countless times over the years, and his style of playing hasn't changed much since the '40s. But then, no one expects him to reinvent the wheel at 83. While I Got Rhythm is predictable, it is also pleasing. Thompson's chops have obviously held up well over the years, and he is as expressive on swinging up-tempo fare (including "Sometimes I'm Happy," the Gershwin Brothers' "I Got Rhythm," and Lester Young's "Jumpin' With Symphony Sid") as he is on lyrical, introspective performances of well-known ballads like "What's New" and Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust" (one of the loveliest songs of the 20th century). Like Robbins' Nest, I Got Rhythm: Live at the Jazz Showcase falls short of essential, but is a solid effort that Thompson's hardcore followers will have no problem appreciating.

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