Jazz man hit by car, makes cool album

Categories: Local Music
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Local sax man Chris Thomson looked comfortable enough onstage sitting in with Branford and Delfeayo Marsalis at Orchestra Hall last month. But three years earlier, he couldn't blow a note. Riding his bicycle one day with his saxophone on his back, Thomson collided with a car—"the guy ran a stop sign," he says—and the musician hit the pavement face first, chipping three of his front teeth.

For a while, the Grand Forks native was afraid to walk down the street, much less climb on a bike again. "I didn't like being a pedestrian," he says. "I couldn't trust anyone who was driving. Eventually I got over it—I'm an avid cyclist now." Even with crowns on his teeth, he couldn't play for months.

So Thomson turned to laptop composition while laid up, digging on Autechre and Oval—the electronic music previously introduced to him by his friends in Poor Line Condition. The result is an arresting new self-released CD, The Three Elements, which recalls the spacey acoustic/electronic mood swings of Juana Molina, but with sax instead of voice. (Thomson still performs jazz, and appears with a trio on Friday at Cafe Maude.)

"I kept trying to get the sounds I'm hearing in my head, to get those out," he says. "You can't just turn a blind eye to the fact that there are computers making unbelievably cool music. But then, I didn't want to leave behind 20 years of playing saxophone."

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