Sir Charles Thompson

For the Ears [Vanguard]

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Although Vanguard gives Coleman Hawkins co-billing on this 1999 reissue, the tenor titan is actually heard on only five of its12 John Hammond-produced selections (which were recorded in 1954, 1955 and 1956). But with or without the mighty Hawk, the material finds Sir Charles Thompson in good to excellent form. In the 1950s, Thompson fluctuated between swing and bop, and For The Ears reflects his passion for both. The CD also reflects Thompson's love of Count Basie. Although the pianist was quite recognizable himself, Basie was always his primary influence--and the Count's influence comes through on hard-swinging uptempo numbers like "Dynaflow" and "Ready for Freddie" as well as the ballads "Under the Sweetheart Tree" and "It's the Talk of the Town" (both of which remind us how seductive and alluring Hawkins' ballad playing could be). Four of the songs, including "Love for Sale" and "Stompin' at the Savoy, " come from a drumless 1956 trio date with guitarist Skeeter Best and bassist Aaron Bell. Opting for variety, For The Ears paints an appealing picture of Thompson's Vanguard output.

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