Tuesday, January 26, 2010

RIP: Ed Thigpen

From the New York Times:
Ed Thigpen, a drummer whose tasteful and understated style made him a favorite accompanist of some of the best-known performers in jazz, died on Jan. 13 in Copenhagen, where he had lived since 1972. He was 79.

His death was announced by his family. No cause was specified.

Mr. Thigpen was most famous for his tenure with the pianist Oscar Peterson’s trio, one of the most popular small groups in jazz, from 1959 to 1965. He was the first drummer to work with Peterson, whose trios up until then had consisted of piano, bass and guitar, and he earned raves for his supportive playing and especially for his deft use of brushes.

After leaving Peterson, he spent five years with Ella Fitzgerald. He then moved to Copenhagen, where he became an in-demand sideman for visiting and expatriate American jazz musicians.

Mr. Thigpen returned occasionally to the United States, but not always as a performer. Many of his visits were to attend meetings of drummers and educators, where he discussed the teaching techniques he had developed and which he documented in several books.

He was proud of those techniques. “I found a slot that was missing in rhythm education,” he told The New York Times in 1985. “I found a way to activate the silences between notes.”

When I was a young drummer in school, Ed Thigpen was one of the go-to guys my teachers pointed to for style and technique. He was the epitome of an in-the-pocket drummer, and his subtlety and the power of the silent spots brought his sound alive.

BeltwayBlips: vote it up!


Anonymous said...

Ed Thigpen 7A nylon tips were my sticks of choice. Of course I would flip 'em and use the stick end. Great musician.


JohnnyRussia said...

One of the undisputed masters of the skins.