|By appearance Rene Thomas (1927-1975) seemed calm and introvert, as if hiding behind his thick spectacle lenses. Once he took up his guitar, his outward coolness remained, but inside the creative giant burst out. He improvised, like all the greats, apparently psychologically automatically, continuously fluently, sensibility triumphing over intellect. He combined the harsh reality of the bebop with the southern melodiousness of a Django Reinhardt. This made Rene Thomas unique and a trendsetter for quite a few guitarists, like Philip Catherine, for example.
This recording, dug up by Timeless from the invaluable Sesjun archives, is one of the rare documents dating from the last year of his life.
Within a year Rene Thomas was to die suddenly in Santander, Spain. As was often the case in those days the Liege guitarist is surrounded by Dutch musicians. At the time Rob Franken (1941 -1983) revealed himself as a true master of the electric piano (a.o. with Toots Thielemans). He had the art of beautiful improvisation on a core of ideas. His single notes spontaneously and logically led to chords. Everything seemed so natural and easy with him. The rhythm duo with bass player Koos Serierse and drummer Louis Deby makes a splendid team. In all simplicity they place themselves completely at the disposal of the soloists, so that Thomas and Franken can freely continue their walk through the harmonic themes.
My Wife Maria is a beautiful homage of Thomas to his wife Marie. Jezus Think Of Me was originally recorded by composer-pianist George Cables with trumpet player Woody Shaw (the album Blackstone Legacy, 1970) under the title Think On Me. Rene frequently played this theme under the title Jezus Think Of Me, which raises a corner of the veil Thomas was. Raye and De Paul's Star Eyes is approached in a Latin way by Thomas, with eight beats swing in every chorus. After some time the theme continues swingingly. Here Rene improvises in a subtly transparent manner, so that the lovely melody remains audible. Monk's Round About Midnight is treated modestly. With a unique intonation Thomas manages to place proper accents, one of the hallmarks of his grand personality.
Recorded at De Boerenhofstede, Laren, Holland, 21 February 1974.