Danny Thompson

Whatever's Best

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Rather than simply reissue his second and third solo albums, 1989's Whatever's Next and 1990's film score Elemental, Danny Thompson instead chose to drop a few minor tracks from each and combine the two for the concise, hour-long Whatever's Best. It's a wise move, as both albums had needed a bit of tightening, and Whatever's Best saves all of the highlights from both. It's an unusual quartet album, matching Thompson's upright bass and an unobtrusive rhythm guitarist to a front line composed entirely of reeds ranging from soprano sax to bass clarinet, with some Northumbrian pipes thrown in for good measure on the meditative "Dargai." It's a wildly diverse set, ranging from the Bulgarian-inspired "Sandasko Oro" to the utterly delightful "Hopdance," which sounds like the artsier cousin of Ashley Hutchings' Albion Band. Elemental added drums and piano to a similar bass-and-reeds setup, but the most successful track on the album is the simple, beautiful elegy "Musing Mingus," a heartfelt and expansive tribute to Thompson's obvious inspiration. Voiceprint later reissued both albums in full, but Whatever's Best is a worthwhile précis for the merely curious.

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