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Wishing Newfoundland Jazz Pioneer Jimmy Thomson a Speedy Recovery

February 22, 2011

Wreckhouse Jazz and Blues would like to extend its best wishes to Jimmy Thomson and his family after his open heart surgery last Thursday.

Jimmy, a winner of the Wreckhouse Jazz and Blues Lifetime Achievement Award, who will be 75 in August is a pioneer of the jazz scene in Newfoundland.

Jimmy Thomson was born in Scotland, in 1936. He began listening to and playing jazz when he was 16. He plays the tenor sax, guitar and vibes and has played with various jazz groups over the years. He has a wonderful knowledge of the basics of jazz and a fascinating history of being involved with music and learning.

Jimmy came to St. John’s in 1973 from Grenoch, a suburb of Glasgow, Scotland. One of his first stops once on the Island was to the Tudor, a local jazz club. There he saw Newfoundland’s most popular jazz group of that time, The Ralph Walker Band. Within a few weeks he was invited to play full-time with the band. Together they played a mixture of jazz,  gutsy blues, plenty of Dixie-land type swing, as well as the irresistible memories of the Big Band era combined with a lot of ballads. The group played at many venues and shows including the Tudor, the Arts and Culture Centre Summer Festival 77, The Fishing Admiral, The Osprey, Martha’s Pub and many more.

In the early 90’s Jim played with the Rick Hollett Trio on New Years, at the Jazz Festival in the Loft at Haymarket Square on Duckworth, and at a ‘new’ jazz bar, Mojo’s. The trio was comprised of Rocky Wiseman, Robbie Mills and vocalist Renee Marquis. The group was frequently joined by John Nugent on tenor sax. Unlike the sometimes “Big Band and gutsy blues” sound of the Ralph Walker Band, the Rick Hollett Trio had a light, airy sound.

Over the years, Jim Thomson played at a Terry Fox concert, gigs at The Health Sciences Centre and for various organizations including the Legion, Masonic Charities in the early days. Jim was particularly excited about his appearances with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra; these performances were some of the highlights of his career to date.

Watch Video of Jimmy playing and talking about the Vibraphone and Jazz below;

Part 2

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One comment

  1. Hey Jim! Hope all is well?

    Great hearing you play again!

    Darren C. Walker



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