LUCKY THOMPSON AND THE JACK SELS TRIO, One Cool Night, 1959Posted: January 14, 2010
When it comes to finding records I´m actually quite lazy. Most of my record hunting (or rather fishing) I do in my neighborhood. Once a week I make a quick round through the stores to see if they have new stuff. It usually only takes a couple of minutes in every store to check and sometimes month go by without any cool records coming in. My street, which is a side street that goes off some bigger street where a lot of people come to shop and promenade, used to have two thrift stores. Only few people find their way there. It´s my little secret digging spot. That´s why I consider the records that show up there to be “my records”.
One time I came into the store and there was a brand new box full of 45´s. Only SOMEBODY ELSES FINGERS WERE ALREADY IN IT!!! I was furious. Who was that asshole? How dare he comes snooping around in MY STORE?! And why couldn´t I have come 30 minutes later so that I wouldn´t have to see him pull out a Bill Black Combo 45 and a Jack Hammer 45, both with picture sleeves and in very nice condition? But I was even more angry with myself because I don´t need any more records really. Why should I get envious over a bunch of stuff that 30 minutes before I didn´t even know was there?
Well, then it was my turn. What a surprize! For some reason the guy left this record in the box. I paid 2 Euros for it and was very much at peace with the world again.
Lucky Thompson ( 1924 – 200) was an African-American Jazz tenor and soprano saxophonist. He had a long career playing Swing with Lionel Hampton, Lucky Millinder and Count Basie, worked in Rhythm & Blues and later Bop and Hard Bop with Kenny Clarke, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Milt Jackson. Thompson lived in Paris from 1957 to 1961.
In 1962 Thompson came back to New York, where he signed with Prestige and cut some solid albums . Not long after his return, Thompson´s wife died and the ghosts of his former business disputes reemerged. He lived for a time in Lausanne, Switzerland, but returned to the U.S. in the early 70´s to teach music at Dartmouth. His last recordings were Goodbye Yesterday (1972) and I Offer You (1973), made for the Groove Merchant label. From that point he descended slowly into despair, homelessness and dementia. Thompson lived for a while on a Canadian island, moved down to Savannah, Georgia, and eventually found himself on the streets of Seattle. Several musicians over the years reported finding a dissolute, half-coherent Thompson wandering the city. He finally found a place at the Columbia City Assisted Living Center, where he lived from 1994 until his death.
After a rollercoaster lifetime, Eli ´Lucky´ Thompson died from complications of Alzheimer´s disease on July 30, 2005, at the age of 81. Survivors include his son, Darryl.
Jack Sels ( 1922- 1970) was a Belgian Jazz Saxophonist and a pioneer of modern Jazz in Belgium. He played in various groups from the mid-40´s to the mid-60´s but left only few records. Like Thompson he struggled as an artist:
In ’63, financial difficulties forced him to work at the Antwerp harbour to unload boats. The last three years of his life, his health unfortunately declined, making it very difficult for him to play.
He died on March 21, 1970, from a heart attack, in his Antwerp home.
Jack Sels was only 48 when he died. Lucky Thompson got to be 81 but was homeless and broke. They certainly lived the lives of true jazz musicians. Both must have met during Thompson´s time in Paris. Musically they matched real well. I don´t know a thing about jazz but this is cool. Like a more cheerful Modern Jazz Quartet. Like, real European beatnik jazz…
bongos: Prince Ghana M´Bow, vibraphone: Sadi, bass: Benoit Quersin, piano: Jean Fanis, drums: Rudy Frankel, trumpet: Ado Broodboom
Recorded in Cologne, February 2, 1959