Eli Thompson, 16 June 1924, Columbia, South Carolina, USA, d. 30 July 2005, Seattle, Washington, USA. Thompsons professional career began in the early 40s as a sideman in territory bands. After moving to New York in 1943 he played tenor saxophone in the bands of Lionel Hampton, Don Redman, Billy Eckstine, Lucky Millinder and in 1944 joined Count Basie. On the west coast he recorded with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, being hired by Gillespie for the famous engagement at Billy Bergs to help make up the numbers when Parker failed to turn up or was late. Indeed, Parker failed to show up for a record session with Ross Russells Dial label and Thompson sat in. When Parker eventually made a date for Russell, this time with Miles Davis, Thompson was again present.
Thompson played briefly with Boyd Raeburn and was also active in the studios. In 1946 he was a member of the Stars Of Swing, a co-operative band masterminded by...