"Jo Thompson is one of the last of a great tradition of female pianists and singers!!!"--Lionel Hampton, Jazz Great


Bio: Ms. Jo Thompson
Summing up, “Jo Thompson takes Manhattan”, New York’s Amsterdam News, theatrical critic,
Herb Boyd, wrote, “An evening with songstress/pianist Jo Thompson is to experience a veritable
cavalcade of great entertainers. Depending on the song or her interpretation, the likes of Louis
“Satchmo” Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Tony Bennett, Nat “King” Cole, the Mills
Brothers, Nellie Lutcher or Fats Wailer are conjured.” (Michael’s Pub owner Gil Wiest said, “If you
close your eyes when Jo Thompson is doing a Wailer tune, its as if Fats Wailer was actually at the
piano. Remarkable!”) Boyd concluded his review by saying, “Jo Thompson is a consummate storyteller
whether standing or at the keyboard.” Indeed, Jo Thompson is remarkable!
Currently, Jo Thompson is performing with the JC Heard Orchestra directed by Walt Szymanski
and will be touring in a tribute to Lena Horne (which debuted to great success at the New York’s
legendary Blue Note) in a show entitled: THANK YOU LENA!!!
Jo Thompson brings to each performance more than 50 years worth of experience. She is a definitive
entertainer extraordinaire. Her style of music and entertainment is a classic musical blend of
time-tested songs, humor, sophistication, glamour and beauty. Shirley Eder, columnist in the Detroit
Free Press and the recipient of the Publicists Guild of America’s National Press Award states, “To
me, Jo Thompson is a piano playing Lena Horne, a singing Hazel Scott and/or a combination of all
the wonderful talents of which Bobby Short is made.” She possesses that certain indefinable quality
that lifts a super talent into upper-crust entertainment. Three words best describe Ms. Jo Thompson

BIO-The Fabulous Ms. Jo Thompson with the JC Heard Orchestra directed by Walt Szymanski

As a consummate drummer and bandleader, the late great J.C. Heard epitomized class with a whole lot of
flash and musical excitement.
Having fine-tuned his skills over a career that spanned a half century, Heard’s orchestra sound was among
the very best swing ensembles in the country. Moreover, his drumming was spoken of in the same breath
with such superstar drummers as Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. The orchestra’s influences are a who’s who
of jazz: Dizzy Gillespie, Cuba Austin of the McKinney Cotton Pickers; Chick Webb, Coleman Hawkins,
Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker and Teddy Wilson. Although often under-recognized in
comparison to such big bands as Count Basie, Lionel Hampton and Duke Ellington, nevertheless, J.C.
Heard’s Orchestra was just as prolific.
While living Detroit, towards J.C.’s final days, he was preparing a re-emergence of his orchestra by
touring internationally with the help of his musical director (a position held during the band’s last seven
years while J.C. was alive) trumpeter, composer and arranger Walt Szymanski.
Szymanski was hand-picked by Heard for his multi-level talents that were well developed beyond his
relatively young age.
After Heard’s death, Szymanski became a horn player and musical director for Jazz/cabaret singer-pianist
Jo Thompson. Ms. Thompson with Walt as the musical director of her trio have played New York’s most
sophisticated night-spots from Michael’s Pub to Tavern on the Green. Her style was influced by J.C. Heard
(as was Lena Horne who acknowledged Heard as being responsible for her first professional break as a
vocalist at Café Society.)
Early in Ms. Thompson’s career, she too was blessed to have had Heard as her drummer on several
engagements from New York’s famed Café Society to Miami Beach clubs and Cuba’s most glamorous
hot spots. Jo Thompson’s impressive career includes such high points as the “girl singer” with the Noble
Sissle Orchestra at Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe Supper Club, many appearances in Europe and is the
recipient of the Back Stage magazine’s coveted Bistro Award for Outstanding Vocalist/Instrumentalists and
starred in the Emmy nominated special Detroit Jazz Jewels that aired nationally on the Comcast network.
Currently Jo Thompson backed by the J. C. Heard Orchestra directed by Walt Szymanski, is working on
a tribute show to Lena Horne, appropriately titled: Thank You Lena!!! Together, Jo, Walt and the Orchestra
are receiving rave review by blending their talents to carry on the outstanding tradition of the J.C. Heard
Orchestra as they would have sounded at their very best. Recreating an era of music that is graining new
fans and endearing itself to loyal ones only proves there is always a demand for good music and timeless


Slender, Tender and Tall (Panda Digital) JO THOMPSON: Forever Fabulous (Jazz Jewels Digital TBR: Spring 2010) PLEASE NOTE FOR AUDIO, VIDEO, PHOTOS, PRESS & CALENDAR, PLEASE GO TO: (or you may access it via the following "Links" icon below.)

Set List

The great American Song Book, Basie, Ellington, Hampton, Lena, Louie, Boogie Woogie and other jump swing big band tunes