Bob Thompson

Lady First

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Listening to keyboardist Bob Thompson's Lady First is a bit like experiencing a movie with great elements - solid acting, cinematography, direction -but whose story only rarely connects emotionally. His basic approach - which comes across most effectively on the lyrical, acoustic trio piece "The Present" - is eloquent yet with frequent percussive bursts, very much in line with Joe Sample's easy blend of light funk and deeper, improvisational ideas. Thompson is equally adept at both the softly-lit "dinner jazz" and more throbbing jams like "Brother's Keeper." He is also adventurous as a producer, slyly enhancing "First Born" with a small string quartet and aiming for a Japanese flavor with a synth-koto melody on "Delilah." What's lacking? Great, instantly memorable melodies that stick - not coincidentally, the mark of a smooth jazz classic. Only "The Present" and the lush, new agey closing title track really seduce us. A lot of folks can play as well as Sample and David Benoit. But as Thompson shows us, few can write that effectively.

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