[JPL]Malachi Thompson RIP

Jackson, Bobby Bobby.Jackson at ideastream.org
Mon Jul 17 17:12:09 EDT 2006

July 17th, 2006

  Delmark Records has very sad news to report as our long time Delmark
family friend and musician, Malachi Thompson, passed away yesterday
morning at home,  July 16th, 2006. Malachi (1949-2006) was a beautiful
soul and an extremely kind man and will be dearly missed by so many
people whose lives he has positively touched. Malachi was a brilliant
trumpet player and composer, writer and jazz historian, and a highly
influential advocate for jazz and arts education. As part of the 2nd
generation of AACM,  Malachi Thompson is best known for his innovative
approach in combining free jazz with the discipline of bop and the
emotion of the blues and gospel. Malachi sadly passed away from
leukemia, which had been in remission for almost 20 years.  Just like
his main musical heroes, Coltrane and Lester Bowie, Malachi was more
than a musician, but a musician with vision and purpose.
Malachi's band Africa Brass with Billy Harper will be performing in a
tribute to Malachi Thompson at the world famous Chicago Jazz Festival on
Friday, Sept 1, 2006 from 6-7 pm at the Petrillo Main Stage.  This will
be a special tribute and very moving performance. I know Malachi was
looking forward greatly to this anticipated event.

 No other details about Malachi's memorial service are announced at this
"Jazz is the music of freedom." - Malachi Thompson
"In my reality, time moves in one direction, ever forward.  I've got to
live and create in the present in order to shape the future.  I hope I
can maintain the imagination and the chops to keep pushing the
boundaries of jazz trumpet."  - Malachi from Delmark's "Timeline"

            Delmark recording artist Malachi Thompson was a composer,
band leader, trumpet soloist, artist, teacher and arts activist. Born in
Princeton, Kentucky on August 21, 1949, Thompson's jazz roots are on
Chicago's South Side. In 1968, he joined the influential Association for
the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) playing the music of Henry
Threadgill and Richard Muhal Abrams.  He also became a member of Dr.
M.L. King's Operation Breadbasket Orchestra, the musical arm of SCLC in
1968, working for civil rights for African Americans.  In 1974, after
completing work for a degree in Music Composition, Thompson was
encouraged to move to NYC by jazz legend Art Blakey.  While in NYC,
Thompson performed with many of the greatest names in jazz: Joe
Henderson, Sam Wooding, Jackie McLean, Frank Foster, Leon Thomas, Sam
Rivers, Lester Bowie, and Archie Shepp to name a few.  In 1978, he
formed the highly acclaimed Freebop Band. After 10 years in NYC, he
moved to Washington DC and later Vienna, Austria performing and
composing for various bands.
            In 1989, Thompson was diagnosed with cancer and returned to
his native Chicago. After his recovery, he became an outspoken advocate
for jazz and arts education.  He is also a published writer and jazz
historian.  He often performs or serves as an artist in residence in
Chicago's public schools. He conducts master classes, jazz workshops and
lectures on all things jazz at colleges and universities nationwide. 
            In 1991, Mr. Thompson founded the Sutherland Community Arts
Initiative (SCAI),  a not for profit 501 (c)3 arts and arts education
presenting organization on Chicago's South Side.  As a member of  S C A
I, Mr. Thompson helped found and establish the Hyde Park /Kenwood J A A
Z Festival, The Visiting Jazz Artists Program and "Creativity" magazine.
In 1994 Thompson  helped develop the cultural component  of the award
winning proposal to HUD that brought  8 million dollars in federal
Empowerment Zone (EZ) funds to cultural institutions in Chicago's EZ
            In 1997, Thompson's Freebop Band recorded "47th Street" for
Delmark Records featuring original music from the play The Sutherland,
written by playwright Charles Smith and based partly on Mr. Thompson's
life and struggles to overcome cancer. The Sutherland had a successful
6-week run at Victory Gardens Theater in the fall of 1997 and won the
Illinois Arts Council's New Play Award. Thompson's original music from
The Sutherland won the prestigious Jeff award (the equivalent of a Tony
in NYC). "47th Street" was selected as jazz  record of the  year by the
"Chicago Sun-Times" and made it to the top ten of the CMJ national jazz
charts.  Thompson's recordings consistently track high on jazz radio
charts indicating substantial national airplay. Thompson's 8th CD for
Delmark Records, "Rising Daystar" (featuring Gary Bartz) was released
October 1999 was charted at #4 on "Jazziz" radio charts. Over the past
25 years, Thompson's Freebop Band has featured jazz masters like Carter
Jefferson, Billy Harper, Joe Ford, Albert Dailey, George Adams and David
Murray. Recently, Thompson scored the sound track for the PBS
documentary "Remembering 47th Street," which won an Emmy for Best
Documentary in 2001.  In 2003, Thompson received a commission from
Chamber Music America to compose new works to commemorate the band's
25th Anniversary.
            In 1991, Thompson created Africa Brass,  a thirteen piece
brass ensemble as a larger vehicle for his original compositions. Africa
Brass was inspired by the traditional brass bands that became popular
around the turn of the century in New Orleans. However Africa Brass is
no re-creation, but a logical extension of the brass band tradition that
combines big band jazz with Afro-Cuban music forms. Africa Brass has
three highly acclaimed CDs on Delmark, including "Lift Every Voice" and
"Buddy Bolden's Rag" featuring special guest soloist Lester Bowie. In
2002 Africa Brass received a grant from the Aaron Copland Fund to record
Thompson's "Black Metropolis Suite" and "Blues For A Saint Called
Louis." These new works were released in November 2003 on the Delmark
Records CD, "Blue Jazz," featuring Gary Bartz and Billy Harper.  The CD
peaked at #2 on CMJ's Jazz Chart and received worldwide critical

           In 1995 Thompson was selected as an Arts Midwest Jazz Master.
Thompson was also selected as a "Chicagoan of the Year" in 1996 by the
"Chicago Tribune" for his efforts to bring jazz back to the South Side
of Chicago. In 1997 Thompson was honored by the Chicago Endowment for
the Arts for his arts activism.  Mr. Thompson's trumpet playing has been
recognized in "DownBeat" magazine's annual International Critic's Poll.
Mr. Thompson is featured on 29 recordings of which thirteen he is the
featured artist.  Thompson has performed in over 15 countries around the
world and in 22 states across the U.S.  In June 1998 Thompson's Freebop
Band performed at the St. Louis International Jazz Festival in Senegal,
West Africa sponsored by the United States Information Agency. Thompson
composed two new  compositions for the performance.  Thompson is known
in international jazz circles for his exciting, innovative music and as
a leading exponent of Chicago jazz.

            For more information about Malachi Thompson reference these
publications:  All Music Guide to Jazz; The Biographical Encyclopedia of
Jazz by L. Feather and I. Gitler; The Blackwell Guide to Recorded Jazz
(2nd Edition); Music Hound: The Essential Album Guide; The Penguin Guide
to Jazz (4th Edition); Gramophone Jazz: Good CD Guide and The Jazz Scene
by Royal Stokes. Search the internet under Malachi Thompson or Freebop
or www.delmark.com

Discography on Delmark

1) TIMELINE (1972-1988) 2000 DE 421
2) SPIRIT (1984-1987) 1990 DE 442
3) THE JAZ LIFE 1991 DE 453
4) LIFT EVERY VOICE 1992 DE 463 *
5) NEW STANDARDS 1993 DE 473
6) BUDDY BOLDEN'S RAG 1995 DE 481 *
7) 47th STREET 1997 DE 497
8) FREEBOP NOW! 1998 DE 506
10) TALKING HORNS 2001 DE 532
11) BLUE JAZZ 2003 DE 548  * 
12) future Delmark release!

* with Africa Brass

Also featured on many more recordings, including
Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy
Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre
Archie Shepp
Gil Scott-Heron
Quincy Jones



"...among the next wave of jazz innovation." - Robert Palmer, New York

"...one of the ageless innovators of jazz...(Thompson has) a gift for
conceiving arrangements and solos of stunning technical and emotional
range." - Reuben Jackson, Washington Post

"...universally recognized as one of Chicago's most innovative,
insightful and colorful musicians." - Arts Midwest

"...by  choosing to advance jazz, both structurally and compositionally,
rather than dwelling within  the safe confines of bebop, Thompson has
pushed jazz forward into the new millennium." - Fred Jung, L.A. Jazz
"... (Thompson) demonstrates commitment to the proper historical
development of jazz myth." - John MacCalkies, New City

"...trumpeter Malachi Thompson long  ago established himself as one of
the more innovative composer-bandleaders in jazz." - Howard Reich,
Chicago Tribune 
"...a trumpet player who's racked up acclaim for his always innovative
technique." - Mike Breen, Cincinnati City Beat  
"...Thompson's trumpet styling recall a master whose approach has not
been  truly appreciated." - Willard Jenkins Jazz Times

"...Thompson leads his small band through some innovative turns on
standards and originals." - Rapport Magazine

"...Thompson's Freebop Band from Chicago begins about 10 steps ahead of
most jazz ensembles." -Lazaro Vega, Grand Rapids Press

"...as intellectually probing and viscerally exciting as anything in
jazz today." - Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

"...the group attempts to shatter, or more accurately, stretch the
mainstream." - Robert Goldblum, Richmond Times Dispatch

"...This is hard bop like it ought to be but is seldom heard." - Village

"...Outstanding originals range from New Orleans-style...to hard driving
free-ism." - Billboard Critic's Choice
"...a book full of infectious and occasionally intoxicating
arrangements." - Neil Tesser, Playboy   
"...power and ingenuity." - Bob Blumenthal, Boston Globe

"...There is the spirit of adventurousness that recalls the innovation
of the Bebop era." - Stereo Review

"...I dare say this group collectively will stand the test of time." -
Lofton Emenari, Hyde Park Citizen

Kevin Johnson
Director of Promotion
Delmark Records
4121 North Rockwell
Chicago, Illinois 60618
(773) 539-5001

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