Minnesota Wonder 88's

Butch Thompson

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Minnesota Wonder 88's Review

by Ken Dryden

Butch Thompson has been one of the top stride and ragtime pianists since the early 1970s, with a willingness to take fresh approaches to well known works within these genres while also reviving less familiar compositions, too. He explores several songs by Fats Waller, including an upbeat "Squeeze Me," the almost reverent "Chelsea" (taken from Waller's rarely performed "London Suite"), and the exuberant "Keepin' Out of Mischief Now." Among his innovative ragtime interpretations are Jelly Roll Morton's "Wolverine Blues" and "Scott Joplin's New Rag" (another infrequently recorded piece). Thompson also explores boogie-woogie with a blues-drenched take of Meade Lux Lewis' tribute to one of the fathers of the genre, "Yancey Special." But among the most significant tracks within this CD are his arrangements of two Bix Beiderbecke compositions; there's a lovely take of "In the Dark" and a striding version of "In a Mist." Thompson also penned the old fashioned rag "Little Wonder" and "Yancey on My Mind," a slow blues very much in the style of Jimmy Yancey's own playing.

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