CD: Live at Tivoli, Copenhagen
1. Funk Dumplin
2. You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To
3. Down With It
5. Shufflin' Long
6. Well You Needn't
7. You and the Night and the Music
DVD: Ed Thigpen, Master of Time, Rhythm and Taste
1. Sweet Mama
2. Like Blues
3. Message from Bud
4. Blues for H. P.
5. Shufflin' Long
Ed Thigpen - Drums
Carsten Dahl - Piano
Jesper Bodilsen - Bass
This package is a game of two halves, both featuring drummer Ed Thigpen. The first disc is a CD recorded in 2002 at the Tivoli in Copenhagen by Thigpen's trio. The second disc is a DVD documentary produced and directed by Don McGlynn, tracing Ed's life and work - and including full performances of five tunes.
Of course, Ed Thigpen is best known as drummer for the Oscar Peterson Trio for more than six years. But before that he had played with Cootie Williams, Dinah Washington, Bud Powell and Billy Taylor. After leaving Peterson, he was Ella Fitzgerald's drummer for a good spell. Thigpen moved to Denmark in the 1970s, when it was becoming a favourite port of call for such American musicians as Horace Parlan, Johnny Griffin, Thad Jones and Ernie Wilkins. One of his neighbours in Copenhagen was film-maker Don McGlynn, who made the DVD and recorded the CD.
In the concert, Ed Thigpen leads his own trio, completed by two very talented jazzmen: pianist Carsten Dahl and bassist Jesper Bodilsen. The three work together with the sort of empathy which distinguished the Oscar Peterson Trio, although their playing is more subdued than that of the Peterson Trio. The outstanding track is Thigpen's composition Shufflin' Long, which is based on a mesmerising shuffle beat. The tune is on the DVD as well as the CD - the CD version has Carsten Dahl playing the piano in extrovert Oscar Peterson style. Most tracks on both discs include drum solos, so drummers can really get a good sense of Ed's expertise, which includes remarkable playing of the drums with his hands. Ed also illustrates how the drums can reproduce everyday sounds like waves, trains and walking through leaves.
The DVD also contains some revelations - such as what a light touch Thigpen has and the fact that Horace Parlan's right hand is paralysed. It is a joy to watch the trio working together harmoniously, often with touches of humour. The DVD sometimes uses a split screen to good effect. I often wonder why more videos don't use a split screen so that you can see how musicians are interacting - or how a drummer's feet and hands are working simultaneously. The DVD also includes interviews with Thigpen and his friends and children, describing the hard childhood he had as well as the way his expertise took him to the top.
It was a loss to the jazz world when Ed Thigpen died in 2010. This generous set (especially the 92-minute DVD) makes a very acceptable reminder of the man and his music. As the title says, he was a master of time, rhythm and taste.