Chester Thompson - Wake-Up Call (CD)
From our friends at ProgRock.com
Over the past few decades, American drummer/percussionist Chester Thompson has proven himself as one of the most skilled, versatile, and adored musicians in his field. Best known for his work with iconic artists such as Santana, Genesis, Frank Zappa, and Weather Report, Thompson’s first two LPs – 1991’s A Joyful Noise and 2019’s Steppin’ – offered equally impressive and rewarding demonstrations of his characteristic flexibility and consistency.
Now, Thompson returns with his latest and greatest solo collection of jazz fusion, Wake-Up Call. Full of imaginatively complex and diverse – yet thoroughly accessible – arrangements (performed by Thompson and a top-notch group of new and returning guests), the instrumental sequence encapsulates everything that’s made Thompson’s career so remarkable, distinctive, and timeless.
Although the album surely builds upon its predecessors and reflects the percussionist’s distinguished artistry, it also sees Thompson exploring new musical territories and techniques. Actually, he says, the record is “its own entity, and the way it came about is very different from anything else I’ve done.”
Unsurprisingly, the genesis – no pun intended – of Wake-Up Call was the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “At the start of it, I called [bassist] Robert “Peewee” Hill to see how he and his wife – [pianist] Michiko – were coping with the shutdown,” Thompson explains, adding:
“Robert said they were just jamming with a drum machine. My response was, ‘Don't do that! Let me send you something to jam with.’ I’d laid down a drum track and sent it to them and what they added to it blew me away. That turned into the third composition on the album, Hide and Seek. So, I sent them another drum track and that became the second piece, Sunrise. That process continued over the course of the year, and eventually, we had the nine songs that comprise Wake-Up Call.”
Michiko and Robert “Peewee” Hill are only a couple of the handful of returning players who previously appeared on A Joyful Noise and/or Steppin’. For instance, guitarist Ronnie Vann and Thompson’s son – guitarist Akhil – also came back to ensure that Wake-Up Call is as vibrant and multifaceted as possible.
“All of these musicians were people I’ve worked with live or in the studio, with the exception of percussionist Walter Rodriguez,” Thompson clarifies. “He heard some of the early versions of what we were doing and offered his services. There was also a band going in L.A. that started with us getting together to jam, which led to writing together and doing gigs. That band included Vann and guitarist Caleb Quay, as well as saxophonist Albert Wing and my wife, Roz, on vocals.”
Given their unique and extensive backgrounds, it’s no surprise that the team cumulatively brought a wide array of cultural and musical insights and methods to the table. In fact, rather than see himself primarily as a soloist or band director, Thompson acted as “part of the ensemble” and welcomed an open and communal creative environment. “For me, it’s all about the joys of making music with friends, and I like the idea of coming up with music that’s focused on melodies and harmonies as opposed to highlighting drums,” he reflects.
- Wake-Up Call
- Hide And Seek
- Feel It
- Smack ‘Em
- Sometime Soon
- Joy! Joy! Joy!
Artist: Chester Thompson
Release Date: January 31, 2024