Ed Thigpen Biography

Edward Leonard Thigpen, 28 December 1930, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Following in the footsteps of his father Ben (who played drums with Andy Kirk for almost two decades), Thigpen began playing drums as a child. His first big-name engagement came in 1951 when he joined the Cootie Williams band. Later in the 50s he played with Johnny Hodges, Lennie Tristano, John Coltrane, Bud Powell and most often with Billy Taylor. In the 60s he followed his Taylor stint with another long spell accompanying a noted pianist, this time Oscar Peterson. His sensitive playing style endeared him to singers and he accompanied Dinah Washington in the early 50s and Ella Fitzgerald in the late 60s and early 70s. In 1972 Thigpen settled in Scandinavia, playing with visitors such as Johnny Griffin and Art Farmer, and teaching in Copenhagen and Malmö.

Thigpen’s neat and contained style is ideally suited to a small group setting while his inquiring mind has caused him to introduce many unusual effects into his performances, drawing on Eastern musical traditions. Of particular note is his recording with Joe Lovano on The Element Of Swing in 2002. Thigpen has also written several manuals on drumming techniques and is a tireless educator.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.