Nashville’s Chester Thompson has had a long and storied career, from his days with Weather Report, Frank Zappa, Genesis, and Phil Collins to his current gigs recording, performing and teaching at Belmont University. Not one to rest on his laurels, Thompson has just released a second CD from his latest band, the eponymous Chester Thompson Trio.
Dec. 21: the CD has risen to #5 on the Jazz Week chart, in its seventh week on the chart!
The project, titled Simpler Times, is a continuation of his recent musical partnership with two of Nashville’s young lions, pianist Joe Davidian and bassist Michael Rinne. As with the Trio’s earlier CD, Approved, the project is a mixture of original material, composed by Davidian or Rinne, with inventive arrangements of jazz or pop standards.
Many are surprised to learn of Chester’s jazz chops, given his earlier background as a rock drummer. Chester himself would prefer to avoid genre labels, however, and when pressed describes his music as “progressive jazz.” He recalls earlier days when “progressive rock” groups pushed boundaries with complex arrangements and jazz artists such as Dave Brubeck, pushed the boundaries of jazz with exotic time signatures and odd meters.
Indeed, the current recording contains several forays into unusual time signatures. The group transforms Jobim’s Bossa Nova classic Desafinado into a sleek modern piece done mostly in 5/4 time (with periodic and segues into 3/4). Thompson’s fondness for Brazilian music is also evident in the samba rhythm of the CD’s opening track, the Joe Davidian composition Elation.
Another standout track is group’s reinvention of the Cole Porter standard So In Love. Opening with an ostinato figure that continues under the melody, the piece is done in 7/8 time, a favorite of Chester’s since a tour of Brazil with famed percussionist Airto Moreira.
A mark of a great artist is never standing still, so true of this artist and his compatriots!