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Trumpeter Malachi Thompson dies at 56

SOURCE: Published: 2006-07-20
CHICAGO -- Malachi Thompson, a trumpeter who was a leading figure on Chicago's experimental jazz scene, died on Sunday, July 16, at his home on the South Side of Chicago. He was 56.

His death followed a long battle with cancer, Bob Koester, founder of Thompson's record label, Delmark, said.

Doctors told Mr. Thompson in 1989 that he had a year to live after he was found to have T-cell lymphoma. He later said the diagnosis transformed his music and inspired him to record “Lift Every Voice," a 1993 album that explored the roots of black musical culture.

“I'd have to say it was because of my cancer that I realized I had to start doing things before it was too late," he told The Chicago Tribune in 1993. “People don't really think about their mortality when they're in their 30's, but I had to."

Mr. Thompson was born in Princeton, Ky., and moved to Chicago with his family when he was a child. When he was 11, his mother took him to hear Count Basie's band at the Regal Theater.

“Those screaming trumpets shook me," he said. “I never had heard a sound like that, and I decided right then that I had to get a trumpet."

He apprenticed in Chicago nightclubs and joined the influential Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians there in 1968. In the 1970s he moved to New York, where he performed with Joe Henderson, Jackie McLean and Lester Bowie. His band, Brass Proud, worked frequently in Europe.

Mr. Thompson had been scheduled to appear at this year's Chicago Jazz Festival.

He is survived by a son, a daughter and two sisters.

-- Associated Press

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