Eli "Lucky" Thompson (June 16, 1924, Columbia, South Carolina — July 30, 2005, Seattle, Washington) was a United States jazz tenor and soprano saxophonist. While John Coltrane usually receives the most credit for bringing the soprano saxophone out of obsolescence in the early 60s, Lucky Thompson, along with Steve Lacy, played it in a more advanced bebop format.
After playing with the swing orchestras of Lionel Hampton, Don Redman, Billy Eckstine, Lucky Millinder, and Count Basie, he worked in rhythm and blues and then established a career in bop and hard bop, working with Kenny Clarke, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Milt Jackson. Thompson was an inspired soloist capable of a very personal style in which the tradition of Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Don Byas was intelligently mixed with a modern grasp of harmony. He showed these capabilities as sideman on many albums recorded during the mid-1950s, such as Stan Kenton's Cuban Fire!, and those under his own name. He appeared on Charlie Parker's Los Angeles Dial Records sessions and on Miles Davis’s hard bop Walkin' session. Thompson recorded albums as leader for ABC Paramount and Prestige and as a sideman on records for Savoy Records with Milt Jackson as leader.
He lived in Lausanne, Switzerland in the late 1960s and recorded several albums there including A Lucky Songbook in Europe. He was married to Thelma Thompson, who died in 1963. He taught at Dartmouth College in 1973 and 1974, then left the music business completely, because of the racist treatment he received from record companies and clubs. In his last years he lived in the Pacific Northwest and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. His son, guitarist Daryl Thompson, played with Peter Tosh and Black Uhuru before embarking on a jazz career in the late 1980s.
Eli "Lucky" Thompson (16 de junio de 1924 -30 de julio de 2005) fue un saxofonista estadounidense de jazz, vinculado estilísticamente al bebop. Tocó tanto el tenor como el soprano.
Tras tocar en las bandas de swing de Lionel Hampton, Slam Stewart,1 Don Redman, Lucky Millinder, y Count Basie. Asimismo, fue miembro de la banda de Billy Eckstine que también incluía a Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie y Art Blakey. Thompson tocó rhythm and blues antes de desenvolverse en el bop y hard bop con Kenny Clarke, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie y Milt Jackson.
Además de sus grabaciones como líder para ABC Paramount y Prestige, como sideman aparece en el Cuban Fire de Stan Kenton', las grabaciones de Charlie Parker para Dial Records, el Walkin' de Miles Davis, y los álbumes de Milt Jackson para Savoy Records.