- by Howard Reich
WDIV’s Channel 4’s very first “Super Singer”winner(1995)
Harvey Thompson is one of Detroit’s most critically acclaimed jazz vocalists. A Detroit native, who has toured internationally, has been living in Japan for the past 10 years.
Super Jazz Singer Harvey Thompson We are happy for the opportunity to hear a top class jazz vocalist, Mr. Harvey Thompson, a native of Detroit, a city which is rich in jazz tradition and the birthplace of many famous jazz personalities. Harvey Thompson does the city honor with his contribution to the jazz legacy. He is a true “torch bearer of American song “as expressed in the Detroit Metro Times about his vast repertoire of ballads and jazz standards. His rich baritone voice inspired the Chicago Tribune to add more compliments about” the stylistic breadth of the repertoire and the sophistication of his performance. “Thompson brings a wealth of experience and professionalism to the stage, bringing the full persona of the male jazz vocalist to the audience. The Tribune adds, “He sings with as much poetry as virtuosity with an ability to communicate a song’s elegance as well as an innate sense of improvisation and swing “.
- by Howard Reich
Harvey Thompson : “Jazz Is Anything You Want It to Be”
This splended recording from Detroit singer Harvey Thompson is far more than just a vocal showcase. The ingenuity of the arrangements, the stylistic breadth of the repertoire and the ebullience of the performances establish Thompson as a bandleader of unusual sensitivity and musical accomplishment. The tight vocal instrumental ensemble passages he leads in the title track, the idiomatic way he and the band handle the dance funk rhythms of Horace Silver’s ” The Show Has Begun ” and the clever way Thompson reinvents Cole Porter’s ” You ‘d Be So Nice to Come Home To ” make this an instantly appealing recording. As for Thompson’s vocal work, he sings with as much poetry as virtuosity and stands as a potentially major talent.
The Japan Times
- by Michael Pronko
“Love’s Just Funny That Way ”
Harvey Thompson’s lush baritone is a great asset to the Japanese Jazz community. His latest recording this year in Japan presents standards with freshness and verve. He knows that interpreting classics are best done with a lack of pretence. He unfurls these standards with clarity and confidence. Besides hitting all his notes with an unassuming potency. He draws the lines out with a deep sense of the overall flow of the melody. His band gives him excellent support, always in the right spot and never in the way. Their tight ensemble backing allows Thompson to add the internal pushes and pulls that draw out maximum value from each of the melodies. The phrasing is simply beautiful. The range is also appealingly balanced , with a great gracefulness of tempo. ” The Boulevard of Broken Dreams” sways with a slow, sultry motion, while ” Just One of Those Things” bounces forward with hip authority. ” Waltz For Debby ” is delivered with a lovely sense of time, drawing the words out over the 3/4 beat with longing and technique. The gratifying directness of every tune, they are all strong in their own way, reveals a wonderful interaction between all members of the band and a deep feeling for the essentials of jazz vocals. Hopefully he’s here in Japan to stay.
MICHIGAN CHRONICLE / Reflections
- by Steve Holsey
Honors For Harvey, Jo and Comcast
We were happy to hear about Comcast receiving a Telly Award for programming excellence for its ” Detroit Jazz Jewels ” special, and an Emmy nomination as well ( the Emmy results may have been announced by the time this reaches print ). ” Detroit’s rich Jazz Jewels ” which was chosen from a huge number of entries for ” Telly consideration , focused on Detroit’s rich jazz history and featured concert performances by smooth stylist Harvey Thompson and the great singer / pianist Jo Thompson. ( Note : They are not related. ) In the audience cheering them on was none other than Aretha Franklin. The Telly Awards recognizes outstanding cable non network programs and commercials. George Booth, Comcast vice president, said he knew that ” Detroit Jazz Jewels ” was ” something special ” and expressed gratitude that ” this hard work is being acknowledged nationally .” Jo Thompson and Harvey Thompson are masters of their craft and both give Detroit ample reason to be proud . Any alcolades they receive are not enough .
KINGPIN of JAZZ
- by Charlie Hunt
Singing – and the Bowling – are right up Harvey Thompson’s alley
Harvey Thompson could have two resumes. One would say he is Detroit’s premier jazz crooner . It would describe his cloquent baritone voice as dark , smooth and luxurious, comparable to Joe Williams and deeper than Billy Eckstine’s . the other would talk of strikes and spares. It would say he is one of Detroit’s hotter competitive bowlers with an average in the low 200 s , some perfect games and an 800 series . And it might mention that he owes his jazz career to bowling. In jazz circles , Thompson is more likely to talk about his singing idols Tony Bennett and Johnny Hartman than bowling . No wonder so many of his fans and fellow musicians don’t even know about his dual career track .
DETROIT JAZZ FEST
Harvey Thompson, jazz vocalist, was born in Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. After years of appearances in talent shows and local jazz joints and performances at Japanese concert halls and swank Turkish night spots, the Japan-based and world-traveling Thompson can rightfully be called a versatile master of jazz vocals. His first CD, entitled “Jazz Is (Anything You Want It to Be),” is a fine example of his polished vocal skill. With help from some of Detroit’s top jazz musicians, such as trumpeter Marcus Belgrave and Straight Ahead’s lead singer Cynthia Dewberry, Harvey shines on this CD, which continues to receive regular radio airplay.
With his silky smooth voice, comfortable stage presence, and wide repertoire, reflecting influences ranging from Johnny Hartman to Nat King Cole, Harvey Thompson can be considered “the keeper of the flame” of male jazz vocals. “My many years of paying dues (which I am still paying!), learning my craft and improving my jazz technique, and literally singing for my supper, have paid off. Today, I’m confident in my ability to dignify the jazz idiom with my voice,” Harvey says. “I’ve been blessed to have been influenced by, met and even worked with, a wide sample of the world’s best jazz talent. These experiences have helped to focus and strengthen my ongoing salute to some of the world’s great composers and to the vocal tradition that makes jazz such a powerful international musical force!”
The critics agree that Harvey Thompson is a special talent: USA Today says “Thompson is probably the jazziest of the new crooners.” The Detroit Free Press writes, “Harvey Thompson’s eloquent baritone voice is dark, smooth and luxurious, comparable to Joe Williams’ and deeper than Billy Eckstine’s. His career is poised to skyrocket.” And a Chicago Tribune review of Harvey’s CD states, “The ingenuity of the arrangements, the stylistic breadth of the repertoire and the ebullience of the performance establish Harvey Thompson as a band leader of unusual sensitivity and musical accomplishment… He sings with as much poetry as virtuosity and stands as a potentially major talent.”
Among Harvey’s musical achievements are: receiving rave reviews in the Ron Milner musical “Crack Steppin”; numerous appearances at the Detroit Montreux Jazz Festival; winner of WEMU Radio’s Best Jazz Vocalist competition; being named the Detroit NBC affiliate’s first annual “Super Singer”; opening for legendary jazz saxophonist Joe Henderson; singing with the Benny Green Trio in Madrid, Spain; appearing at New York’s famed Tavern on the Green with piano great Dorothy Donegan and at a follow-up engagement at the Tavern with acclaimed jazz cabaret pianist and singer, the fabulous Ms. Jo Thompson.
The recipient of the 1995 Detroit Music Award for Jazz Artist Meriting Wider Recognition, destined for great stardom, Harvey Thompson is a name to remember!
Jazz Japan Magazine
- Interviewed by Shinji Mimura
Jazz singer Harvey Thompson who has been living in Japan for ten years (2002-2012), talks about his story with his recent new friend, Shinji Mimura Jazz singer Harvey Thompson has been singing in many countries ( Europe, America, Japan, Turkey, etc ). We found out that he attended the Detroit Jazz Festival, so we asked him to be interviewed
1. What made you attend the festival?
Harvey: My friend, Chris Collins who is the artistic director of the festival, thought of the idea to have musicians from Detroit who are living outside of the city to reunite. So he formed the Detroit Homecoming Band. He brought together trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, the last living member of the Ray Charles Big Band, Curtis Fuller on trombone, the great Roy Haynes on drums, sax legend Vincent Bowen, bassist Marion Hayden, and up and coming pianist Ian Finklestein, and me on vocals. We performed songs from the Horace Silver songbook.(Song For My Father, Peace, Red Beans and Rice etc.) It was a dream come true experience for me, and lots of fun also.
2. How did you feel about attending your hometown festival?
Harvey: I’m back home, but now there is less population in Detroit and more crime. There are also good things happening in Detroit. They are rebuilding downtown and it’s looking more and more like a world class city. The area on the east side where I grew up has been torn down and is now the Chrysler factory. I think this festival is a great idea. To have a major festival that is the largest FREE festival in the world is very big for the city of Detroit. It brought in around 1 million people to downtown Detroit. They all came to experience and enjoy the music.
3. What kind of music did you sing before coming to Japan?
Harvey: I started out singing gospel music. My brothers and sister (Geraldine) had a singing group named “The Thompson Spiritual Letts”. I also had another passion, that was ten pin bowling. I worked very hard to become a good bowler. For about a year was in a bad slump and thought about quitting the sport. The last game I bowled was a 257. I lost to a friend who had a 258 score. I quit bowling. Soon after I stopped bowling I met jazz trumpet great Marcus Belgrave and that was the start of my singing career.
4. I heard you have many memorable stories about great Jazz people?
One story is I was back home in Detroit and a friend and concert promoter, Phil Foster brought Horace Silver to town to salute him and have a tribute concert in honor of him. I met and spent 3 days with him. I felt like I was in Heaven to met him. He listened to my CD “Love’s Just Funny
That Way”. He told me to never stop singing. We talked about recording some of the music he has written that has never been recorded. I talked to him once in California, but never could connect with him again. He is in NYC now and is very sick. The great guitarist Kenny Burrell let me sing at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge with him. I was very nervous and he was so kind to let me sing with him. Piano great Ms. Jo Thompson and Dorthy Donegan let me sing with them at New York’s Tavern On The Green. Oh my god, I could not belive it. I went to California to see Dorthy, I wanted to tale her out to dinner. I dressed up in a nice suite and called her. Then I arrived at her house she had on an expensive glowing dress. I said , Dorthy I would like to take you to an expensive restaurant. She said “no thanks I want to eat a Kentucky Fried
5. Why did you decide to come to Japan?
Before I came to Japan I knew about the music of Sadao Watanabe and Terumasa Hino. I heard about the respect that Japanese have for jazz, so I made up my mind to come here. There is jazz everywhere in Japan, many jazz clubs and concert venues. Also Japan is the safest place in the world
I love being in Japan. Thanks.
“The Keeper Of The Flame” Harvey Thompson
メイン・ス テージで”ホー ム・カミング・バンド”を組もうということになったんだ。
名前の通 り、私も含めて全員がデトロイ ト出身者なんだ。
マーカス・ベルグレイブ (tp) 、カー ティス・フラー(tb) 、ルイス・ヘイズ (ds)ら
恩人だし、フ ラーは最高に好きなトロ ンボニストだったから、まさに夢が叶った瞬間だったよ。歌ったのはホレ ス・シル バーの”ソング・マイ・ファーザー”や
人口 が減って犯罪 が増え、都心部は高層ビルがずいぶん建ってきれいになったけど、
私が 住んでいた家は工場となって しまって今はもうない。でも、このフェスティバルの意義はとても大きいと思うよ。レイバー・デイ だから、街に帰省してくる人たちも含め て何十万人も集まってくる。それに無料というのもいいね。
若い時はプ ロ・ボーラーを目ざしていたこともあったけど、ある勝負に一点差で負け てね。スパットボウリング は辞めたんだ。
それからはアメリカ各 地、ヨーロッパ、アジア … 色んな場所を 旅したね。”
伴 奏に歌う事になってね。ホレ スとも3日間一緒に過ごすことが出来たんだ。
彼は私の CDを聴いてくれ、とても喜んでくれた。嬉 しかったよ。
それから、ホレスのまだ たくさんある未発表曲に歌詞をつけて私が歌う、というプラン もあった。でも、カリフォルニアにいる彼とはそのあと電話で一度だけ話しただけ。残念ながら家族 がもう 電話を取り次いでくれないんだ。” “名ギタリストのケニー・バレルともデトロイトの ジャ ズ・クラブでよく共演したよ。彼も私のファースト・アルバム”JAZZ IS ” を聴い て誉めてくれた な。それから忘れちゃいけないのはピアニストの
ドロシー・ドナガン だ。彼女とはNYの ” タバー ン・オブ・ザ・グリーン ” で一緒だったけど、仕事を世話 してくれたり、本当によくしてくれたよ。 だからある時、感謝の意を示そうと思って 彼女の自宅を訪ねた。こちらはスーツにネクタイ、彼女も 素敵なガウンを着ていたの でどこか洒落たレストランにディナーに行こうと誘ったんだ。だけど、
彼 女が行きた いと望んだのは ” ケンタッキー・フライド・チキン ” だったんだよ (笑) 。
アメリカ人 以上だ。ジャズ・クラブもたく さんあるし、どんな所でもジャズが流れているだろう (笑)。ジャズは日本人の感性に合っているん じゃないかな。
活動はこれからもグローバルにし ていくけれど、今後は日 本でももっとライブをしていきたいね”
- インタビュー・文 : 三村慎司
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