Thompson, Sir Charles [Charles Phillip]
- Scott DeVeaux
- , revised by Barry Kernfeld
(b Springfield, OH, March 21, 1918; d Tokyo, June 16, 2016). American pianist, organist, and composer. His family was musical, and his stepmother was a pianist. He first studied violin and briefly played tenor saxophone, but took up piano as a teenager. He became involved in jazz after his father, a minister, was transferred to Parsons, Kansas, and Thompson entered high school in Kansas City. He began his professional career playing with midwestern territory bands, including those of the trumpeter Lloyd Hunter (1937) and Nat Towles (1937–9); later Horace Henderson, after taking over Towles’s band (with Thompson no longer a member), recorded Thompson’s composition and arrangement Smooth Sailing (1940, OK 5900). By this time Thompson had worked with the bandleader Floyd Ray in the Los Angeles area (c1939) and toured with Lionel Hampton’s band (1940). He joined George Clarke in Buffalo, and then went to New York to play with the Harlem Dictators and with Lee and Lester Young at the downtown location of Café Society (autumn ...