Desert Island Jazz
Vern Thompson (2006)

Visit Website

Vern Thompson was born in Oakland, California on July 29th 1950. He was raised in Berkeley, CA, attending Berkeley High School and graduating in the spring of 1968. Much later Berkeley High would produce musicians Benny Green, David Murray, Joshua Redmon and Peter Apfelbaum.

"At the time I attended Berkeley High there was very little recognition of jazz in the curriculum , there was only a jazz appreciation course and no jazz band."

In March of 1969 Vern went to work at KJAZ-FM off and on for the next twelve years using the air name Lee Thomas. He also attended San Francisco State University where he studied Broadcast Communications and music. During this time he began private study of the trumpet, starting with John Coppola and continuing to study with Warren Gale Jr., Eddie Henderson, Woody Shaw and Joe Henderson (studying with each for about two years).

"After I received my B.A. from San Francisco State I just continued to study trumpet and kept going with music. I wanted to be a professional musician. I wanted to be one of the best so I studied with those I (and those in the know) considered to be the best. "

However he would much later have to discontinue playing the trumpet because of an ailment called Focal Dystonia, a nerve and muscle disorder that causes a cramping and locking of the fingers. "This pretty much destroyed my technique... all the practicing five and six hours a day went down the tubes. But what I learned about improvisational theory, I was able to use in composition".

At this point he began to write more in order to stay with the music. "Since all I want to do in this music revolves around improvisation, when I write, I write for the improviser. I am specifically interested in writing music to expand the jazz repertoire. This music is, and always has been, about improvisation and no one who really innovated in the area of improvisation did so within a big band or a very large group. This music is about compactness. I feel that I can say all that I want to say with ten or less instruments."
Pick Artist Album Song Label
# 1 Coleman Hawkins The Essential Coleman Hawkins (LP) Picasso (Verve)
# 2 Sonny Rollins Sonny Rollins Brass/Sonny Rollins Trio Manhattan (Verve)
# 3 Bill Evans Time Remembered Time Remembered (Milestone)
# 4 Antonio Carlos Jobim with Elis Regina Jazz Masters 13 Intil Paisagem (Verve)
# 5 Michel Petrucciani, Jim Hall and Wayne Shorter Power of Three Limbo (Blue Note)
# 6 Miles Davis Directions Limbo (Columbia)
# 7 Herbie Hancock Empyrean Isles One Finger Snap (Alternate Take) (Blue Note)
# 8 Thelonious Monk Solo Monk Dinah (Columbia)
Book Bill Bryson, "Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way", and "A Short History of Nearly Everything"
Luxury Item Chocolate
Castaways by date
Steve Adams
30 May
Cheryl Bentyne
17 Oct
Will Bernard
11 Apr
Barbara Borden
21 Mar
Jim Butler
13 Jun
Ian Carey
21 Feb
Judy Chaikin
17 Jan
Mike Clark
10 Oct
Freddy Cole
21 Nov
Beth Custer
01 Aug
Harry Duncan
03 Oct
Kai Eckhardt
03 Jan
Lisa Engelken
26 Sep
Don Friedman
07 Nov
Roger Glenn
05 Dec
Kimberly Gordon
28 Mar
Marty Grosz
29 Aug
Alex Hahn
08 Aug
Bill Holman
28 Feb
Tommy Igoe
07 Mar
Namita Kapoor
22 Aug
27 Jun
Lisa Mezzacappa
24 Oct
25 Jul
Glenn Richman
15 Aug
Alfredo Rodriguez
25 Apr
Dan Sabanovich
02 May
Grant Stewart
12 Dec
Judy Wexler
04 Apr