His classic 1974 Amberlee Records LP (AML 307), digitally remastered from the original master tapes in 2019. Featuring the sounds of ten different theatre organs from across the USA. Running time 41 minutes.
This is the first time this recording has been available in a digital format.
The download “.zip” file is 230Mb and includes 12 tracks in Apple Lossless “.m4a” format, plus 2400dpi JPGs of the Front & Back of the LP cover. Just copy the files into your iTunes (or similar) library.
FANFARE (from The Trio of Contrasts)
Played on the Kimball organ of The Wiltern in Hollywood. This 4 manual, 37 rank organ rates among the world’s largest and most famous.
WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS
Moving to San Francisco, Don plays two contrasting tunes on the beautiful 4-manual, 18 rank Wurlitzer in the Cap’ns Galley, Redwood City, where he was resident organist for two years.
THE PHANTOM BRIGADE
A change of scene now as Don plays the 2 manual, 19 rank Wurlitzer/Welte/Page organ installed in the bicycle showroom of Joe Koons at Long Beach for a gathering of theatre organ fans to whom the proud owner always gives a welcome.
The organ, originally installed in the Fox Theatre, Long Beach, is now housed in a delightful little theatre, The Old Town Music Hall, El Segundo, near the Pacific ocean, where it is used exclusively for silent film accompaniment and concerts. Now played from the 4-manual console from the Paramount, Los Angeles, the Wurlitzer organ contains 24 ranks.
WHILE WE’RE YOUNG
Returning to Joe Koons’ showroom, Don plays the organ in a tune selected to demonstrate the romantic tones of the organ.
TELL ME LITTLE GYPSY
This favourite Jesse Crawford tune is played on what could well be the world’s largest theatre organ, the 4 manual, 64 rank Robert Morton in the Elks Club Temple, Los Angeles, where it is used to accompany lodge rituals. This recording was made at an American Theatre Organ Society’s ‘jam session’ and is a completely impromptu performance and was the first time that Don had seen or heard the instrument.
THE PHANTOM REGIMENT
The haunting fascinating theme builds up to a crescendo as Don plays another tune on the 4 manual, 18 rank Wurlitzer in the Cap’ns Galley, Redwood City.
THE SHADOW WALTZ
Moving across the American continent, Don plays at the famous Palace Cinema on Broadway, New York. The 4 manual, 24-rank ‘Wonder Morton’ organ is housed in an ornate Spanish style theatre which is the very epitome of the ‘Golden Age of the Cinema’. In keeping with the setting Don has chosen a tune evocative of the great screen musicals.
One of the organs still in its original setting is the 3 manual, 12 rank Wurlitzer in the Riviera Theatre, North Tonawanda, which Don now plays. Due to its close proximity to the Wurlitzer organ works this was used as their demonstration instrument. Concerts are given each month at the ornate console.
WHAT KIND OF FOOL AM I
Formerly in Keith’s Theatre, this lush 3 manual, 11-rank Wurlitzer is now preserved for posterity in the auditorium of the Empire State Musical Instruments Museum, Syracuse.
This hauntingly beautiful tune is played on Don’s favourite organ, the 3 manual, 17 rank Wurlitzer / 9 rank Robert Morton in the Cap’ns Galley, Campbell (a suburb of San Francisco). This was originally the organ owned and made famous by the late Buddy Cole and it is now lavishly installed in the Cap’ns Galley where its mellifluous tones thrill the customers nightly.
A TRIBUTE TO REGINALD DIXON: Rosalie / I Double Dare You
Returning to the East Coast, Don concludes his tour playing the 4 manual, 22 rank Wurlitzer originally in the Rochester RKO Theatre. It has been lovingly re-installed in the Auditorium Theatre by the Rochester Theatre Organ Society and is the most prestigious booking on the concert circuit. As a tribute to an organist whom he admires immensely Don dedicates this selection to Reginald Dixon.
SLEEVE NOTES from the 1974 LP
PRESENTING DON THOMPSON
Although now very much a part of the American theatre organ scene, Don Thompson hails from Kendal in Westmorland. Embarking initially on an academic career (it was while he was at college in Cambridge that he first played the theatre organ in public), music was always his first love and before long he was playing at meetings of theatre organ fans all over the country, in clubs and demonstrating electronic organs. A period as Musical Director for Morecambe Corporation was followed by appointments at various clubs in the North East, where he had, at one time, the distinction of appearing on television, playing on the radio and being available on record.
Always a traveller, ere long Don was to be found on the Continent where he appeared for six months at the Brussels Exhibition and then toured all the leading cities in Europe. Following this he went to the Lebanon where he was resident organist at the Byblos Cinema in Beirut, playing the electronic organ for interludes between films.
In 1968 came the call: ‘Go West, Young Man’ and Don set sail for America where he has now made his home. His musical career has gone from strength to strength and he is now a regular performer at meetings of theatre organ clubs and is a member of the concert circuit. For some time he was resident at one of the famous Cap’ns Galleys where he achieved his ambition to play the theatre organ each and every day in a professional capacity.
Twice a year Don tours the U.S.A. from coast to coast giving recitals at all the major locations. This album is a selection of items played on one of Don’s recent concert tours—twelve tunes on ten different organs.
SO—RELAX—and listen as Don Thompson takes you on a musical tour of the United States of America — COAST TO COAST.
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