Donald Thompson was born in Powell River, British Columbia, Canada on January 18th 1940.
He lived in Vancouver from 1960 to 1965 working as a freelance musician primarily on bass. He appeared with groups led by some of Vancouver's finest musicians such as Dave Robbins, Chris Gage and Fraser McPherson, as well as leading his own groups. He also appeared regularly on CBC Radio and Television as a featured artist and band leader.
In 1965 he joined the now legendary John Handy Quintet and moved to San Francisco for a two year stay. During that time the Handy Quintet performed extensively throughout the United States and recorded two albums for the Columbia label. One of these, "John Handy live at the Monterey Jazz Festival", became one of the most popular jazz albums of the 1960's. (Now available on CD). Whilst in San Francisco Don also worked with Frank Rosolino, Maynard Ferguson, Denny Zeitlin and George Duke.
He returned to Canada in 1967 and has been a resident of Toronto since 1969. In that year he joined Rob McConnell's BOSS BRASS as a percussionist, switching to bass in 1971 and later to piano 1987 - 1993). He was also a member of Moe Koffman's group from 1970 to 1979 as pianist or bassist, contributing arrangements and compositions and working as co-producer with Koffman on two albums - "Museum Pieces" and "Looking Up". He also worked extensively with guitarists Ed Bickert, Lenny Breau and Sonny Greenwich while keeping busy with his own various projects.
As a member of the "house rhythm section" at Toronto's Bourbon Street Jazz Club he worked (and recorded *) with such Jazz Celebrities as Paul Desmond *, Jim Hall *, Milt Jackson *, Art Farmer, James Moody, Zoot Sims, Clark Terry, Harry Edison, Frank Rosolino *, Slide Hampton, Lee Konitz and Abbey Lincoln, and appeared at other venues with Sarah Vaughan, Red Rodney, Joe Henderson, Dewey Redman, Red Mitchell, Sheila Jordan and Kenny Wheeler.
He became a member of guitarist Jim Hall's trio in 1974 travelling to Europe and Japan as well as touring the United States and Canada. In 1982 he joined pianist George Shearing and stayed for a five year period during which he appeared at virtually every major jazz club and festival in the United States. Their travels also included tours of Great Britain and two trips to Brazil.
In 1996 he was artist in residence at the Royal Academy of Music, London, England, and performed in a concert of all - Canadian music with fellow Canadians Kenny Wheeler and Hugh Fraser. He teaches regularly at the Banff Centre for the Performing Arts along with other major international musicians.
Don is currently working as a free-lance musician, teacher, member of the band JMOG and as leader of his own Quartet.