Ed Thigpen's Scantet


After enjoying a truly splendid brunch at my wonderful friends Chelsea and Mark's swank condo (where I learned how to use a waffle maker and that there is life North of Bloor) the Robeau and I headed over to catch Ed Thigpen's Scantet at Nathan Phillips Square.

First off, the man (who is in his 70's) looks great. My guess is that it's a combination of the physical demands of playing the drums all these years and the mental exercise provided by his other vocation, teaching, that keeps him so young. If you're questioning your math skills trying to figure out just what a "scantet" is, don't fret. It's a clever devise employed because the four young musicians playing with Thigpen are Scandinavian (he moved to Copenhagen in 1972).

You don't need to hear me go on about what a great player Ed Thigpen is. Anyone who has ever listened to a recording by the Oscar Peterson Trio (of which he was a member from 1959-1965) knows that. What was surprising was the beauty of the songs that Thigpen penned himself. His writing is infused with his typically relaxed yet insistently swinging style, whether in the opening blues "Shake It Out," or his beautiful ballad "Wannabe," which was underscored by his signature brushwork.

The set also included non-Thigpen tunes, most notably a great up tempo Horace Silver number.

Thigpen closed the show and demonstrated more of his drum prowess on the aptly named "Fast Train," which opens with an unaccompanied burst of slick brushwork before the full band came in, blowing the mesmerized crowd away.

The Scantet's flight to Toronto was delayed, so things were running behind, leaving time for only one encore, the gorgeous song "Denise" named for Thigpen's eldest daughter.

Experiencing Ed Thigpen live, it's easy to see why he's been known all these years as "Mr. Taste".


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