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…

Bongo 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






10 Comments on “LUCKY THOMPSON AND THE JACK SELS TRIO, One Cool Night, 1959”

  1. jan says:

    I’ve been looking and sniffing around in these crates for this beauty too long. I’m very much in the work of Jack Sels but not for 20 euro for a single. At last i can listen to this, danke schön.

  2. mischalke04 says:

    If, by chance, I should ever find another copy, I will send it your way. I was sure you had one. Thanks for the great discography!

  3. rooksp says:

    I’m also lucky enough to posess a copy of Bongo Jazz. Great page

  4. Joe Higham says:

    Nice posting. I’m (a musician) living in Belgium and although we all know who Jack Sels is I must admit I’ve never heard him – on record of course. Although Sadi and Jean Fanis have now passed away (as the others also), we did get the chance to see them play, and Jean Fanis was often around at jam sessions when I first arrived here.

    As for the vinyl collecting, I totally understand. Oddly enough I now have to force myself NOT to buy anymore, although I’m now starting to add a few ‘new’ LPs to my collection, stuff that is only coming out on LP – ex: No Business Records.

    All the best – Joe

  5. mischalke04 says:

    Thanks for sharing the information. I´m slowly getting into the history of jazz AND into buying 78rpm shellac records. It´s an exiting new field…

  6. John Todaro says:

    Lucky Thompson was a national treasure – an amazing musician who spent many decades completely under the radar. He was fluent on several instruments including soprano sax before Coltrane had even started to play it. Thompson played with Bird and many others — even Stan Kenton on Cuban Fire. He’s one of the most neglected musicians of the twentieth century.

    It’s good that some have not forgotten him.

    I’ve never heard Bongo Jazz … congratulations… an excellent find.

  7. mischalke04 says:

    I really enjoy your photography and your stories on your blog!
    Glad I found that!

  8. John Todaro says:


    I found a file for Bongo Jazz- very cool music. Jack Sels was probably even more under the radar than Thompson.

  9. boogieman says:

    Thanks a lot for giving us the opportunity to listen to this rare EP with some great Belgian musicians (in addition of colossus, Lucky Thompson.
    I received the sad news that pianist Jean Fanis died on September 3. I posted a small tribute on my blog and took the liberty to put a link to this post as it is one of the very few recorded traces of this pianist that could be found on the net. Hope you won’t mind.
    Thanks & congrats for your blog,. I only discovered it recently but it is a real treasure chest. Keep up the good work.

  10. mischalke04 says:

    Thanks, I´m happy you found something interesting here. Likewise: Thanks for your blog, a great site to get educated about jazz. I enjoy reading it very much.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s