Luckily, I'd received Jack Mouse's "Range of Motion" at the same time I got Rich Thompson's "Less is More" and stacked them together in my slush pile. Reviewing the two, one right after the other, afforded a sharp contrast in drumming styles even though the two have played in much the same genre of ensembles as they now solo in smaller format CD releases. Mouse is an ambient sort of cat who creates environments for the rest of the band to stand upon and then amble about in, but Thompson's a player and more accentuates what his compeers are doing. This is especially noticeable in Hoot Gibson, extremely so in an attenuated passage where just he and organist Gary Versace pursue a duet conversation. It's a rather unique meeting of the two instruments as Versace erects a tweedly two-handed lead line with Thompson punching in the commas, semi-colons, exclamation marks, and various other sonic punctuation.
The Boston Globe notes that Thompson's was "the power that drove the [recent] Basie sound", indeed so, even playing the Presidential Inaugural Ball in '97, and Less is More is a straight-ahead venture with blue overtones most strongly evidenced in Doug Stone's sax work, though trumpeter Terrell Stafford follows behind nicely before cutting loose to head in early Miles-ish territory, especially in the title cut. Versace switches to piano for some great choral back work and then a lilting solo once Stafford winds down. Thompson, in this song, though he provides a good solid pathway, is still more the interaction agent, as much as he might otherwise be a percussive coloratura when needed. If anyone's painting the backgrounds, it's bassist Jeff Campbell, with deep resonant tones frequently sparely applied but in the sort of pointillist style which says much. Less is exactly that: not a sprinting blare of dissonance nor a jet-jumpy fusion cannonade but a session that values group sound and a coherent constancy from which solos have melodic meaning beyond chops-trotting.