In her Lincoln Center debut, Jo Thompson smashed the piano keys with ferocious momentum, creating new sounds glittering against the midsummer night. With feline grace, her gossamer voice soared on melodic chords bewitching the audience into nirvana. This lady had more than enough electricity to light the entire north eastern coast for years! Hard to believe this woman, musician, composer, fashion designer, singer is almost eighty years old!! Madonna, Beyonce, and Maria better take note. This is how it's done!
Being first is nothing new to this Detroit native coming from a family of strong religious and spiritual ties; a unique, genuine grace has allowed her to return to the stage after a thirty year hiatus to raise her family. Before she went on hiatus, Jo Thompson was a global entertainer traveling from Cuba to England landing her in the famous company of everyone from Josephine Baker, Lena Horne, Sophie Tucker and Frank Sinatra to Lionel Hampton, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Nina Simone.
Thompson is probably the only female pianist and singer to upfront a classic swing big band (the outstanding JC Heard Orchestra directed by Walt Szymanski) proving she can hold her own with such contemporary artists as Sheila E. and Patrice Rushen. An accomplished pianist who can cover styles such as jazz, be bop, rock, classical, folk and blues, she sings each composition with her husky and playful voice. Another first is her vocal performance of the Ron Miller evergreen that she was the very first to sing (before Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder’s recorded versions) "For Once in my Life". She performs it with heartfelt passion driven by her signature "Sass and Class" style reminding the audience who did it first and best.
Thompson's critically acclaimed first CD, "Slender, Tender and Tall" was a rousing triumph and strong example of her signature "Class and Sass", making it a fixture of any music collectors' most prized collection. She gave an ample live sampling of why the music from this CD is so beloved. Also, she performed "Them There Eyes" with the energy of Generation Y which stirred the dancers to a fever pitch. Sparkling in a gold pants suit she designed with her son, Greg Dunmore, under their label Carlos Nina Couture, she and her big band decorated Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing’s stage with a divine jazzy jump-swing fusion accented with blues, funk and down home grit, leaving nothing on the bone. Cole Porter would have been proud of this "living legend" bringing back the standards as only Jo Thompson can.
One evening of this "living legend" only served to wet the palate for the divine and delicious. For those suffering from withdrawal, they can soon calm themselves on her upcoming musical offering entitled appropriately "Forever Fabulous".
-J. Wesley Beeks, Jr.
Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) Television Arts & Entertainment Review