Desert Island Jazz
Vern Thompson (2006)

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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 Inútil 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"
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