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Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Short Stories

Posted By on Wed, Oct 24, 2001 at 12:00 AM

What makes the music of Marvin Thompson Jr. special is the way it calms you down and slows your pace. It’s the kind of jazz that automatically conjures pictures of warm weather, warm memories and better days. Believe me — in the times we live in, it helps to have some sounds like this around the house at the end of the day when you’re getting home from work.

Thompson has a mellow, smooth touch on the keyboards that implies the sort of subtle, quiet confidence of someone who doesn’t need to bang you over the head with theatrics to prove all the marvelous things he can accomplish. Rather, Thompson chooses to tell his Short Stories in such a way that it guides you toward the theme, but still allows the listener to fill in some of the story line, depending on how that listener interprets the music.

It’s little surprise that Thompson has been a recipient of a Billboard Songwriting Award. His music is deceptively simple, the kind of sound that at first listen might sound like anybody you might hear at a coffeehouse or providing background music at a restaurant. A closer listen reveals considerably more going on underneath the surface.

If there’s one criticism of this CD, it would only be that I would’ve liked to have heard some vocal accompaniment on at least a couple of tunes and a few of the songs sound a bit too similar. Still, the man definitely has a nice touch.

Keith A. Owens is a Detroit-based freelance writer and musician. E-mail him at


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