I first met Ernie Watts while doing studio work on acoustic and electronic drums and percussion for Gil Melle in Los Angeles. Subsequent to that we played together in the ensemble of Peter Manning Robinson. Around that time I began to record unrehearsed duets with different players in L.A. and also on visits to my hometown in the Kansas City area. Ernie graciously consented to do one of those duo sessions with me.

I had been attracted to duo playing ever since hearing John Coltrane and Elvin Jones do it (not that I could ever play like Mr. Jones). There is a certain intimacy and spontaneity to it that you just don't get when other instruments are involved. I was later inspired by Max Roach's recorded conversations with Anthony Braxton, Archie Shepp, and Cecil Taylor.

After recording our duet session Ernie and I started getting together and working on an extension of the duo project performing tunes live with electronics. He brought in some tunes that he thought might work in this format, I contributed some of mine.

In addition to my attraction to interactive jazz playing (best epitomized by the mid-60's groups of Coltrane and Miles Davis), I also love electronics. Menagery is a fusion of those two interests.

– Mike Thompson

Mike Thompson & Ernie Watts Mike Thompson

Ernie Watts Ernie Watts & Mike Thompson

(Click to enlarge)

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Menagery
  1. What Comes Around Goes Around
    Mike Thompson (Water Tower Music, BMI)
  2. Reaching Up
    Ernie Watts / D. Whitham (Urban Renewal Music, BMI / Witham Section Music, ASCAP)
  3. Safari Out
    Mike Thompson (Water Tower Music, BMI)
  4. Another Samba
    Mike Thompson (Water Tower Music, BMI)
  5. Little Flower
    Mike Thompson (Water Tower Music, BMI)
  6. On The Border
    Ernie Watts (Urban Renewal Music, BMI)
  7. Angel's Flight
    Ernie Watts / D. Whitham (Urban Renewal Music, BMI / Witham Section Music, ASCAP)
  8. Haircut Blues
    Mike Thompson (Water Tower Music, BMI)
  9. The Majestic One
    Mike Thompson (Water Tower Music, BMI)
  10. Bern City
    Ernie Watts / B. Boykin (Urban Renewal Music, BMI / Language Of The Heart Music, ASCAP)
  11. A Simple Man
    Mike Thompson (Water Tower Music, BMI)
  12. Samba 6
    Mike Thompson (Water Tower Music, BMI)