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Barbara Thompson

Biography

View Discography here | Visit Barbara’s Blog here

barbara2Barbara was born in Oxford and educated at Queen’s College, Harley Street, London and the Royal College of Music, where she studied clarinet, piano, flute and composition. Whilst retaining a strong interest in classical music, Barbara was captivated by the jazz work of Duke Ellington and John Coltrane and developed a consuming passion for the saxophone. She formed her own group Paraphernalia in 1977. The band , still touring and recording despite Barbara being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1997, became one of the major instrumental attractions on the European concert scene. Barbara’s original and inventive compositions and soaring saxophone and flute improvisations, have earned her international acclaim, while the originality of the music has appealed to a wider audience than solely contemporary jazz buffs.

Millions throughout the world have heard the sound of her haunting saxophone playing the title theme to the TV Series, ‘A Touch of Frost’.

Barbara released her 17th album with her band Paraphernalia “Never Say Goodbye”, in 2005. Her most recent release, ‘Perpetual Motion‘, dated 2012, features 10 of her compositions played by the 12 piece Apollo Saxophone Orchestra. Another album featuring her compositions played by ‘Trifarious‘, a clarinet trio with piano and violin led by virtuoso Tim Redpath, is due out later this year.

In 1964, Barbara was invited to take the lead alto chair in The New Jazz Orchestra, a seminal group of young English jazz musicians under the direction of the late Neil Ardley. There she met her husband-to-be, drummer Jon Hiseman, and they married in 1967. They have a son Marcus and a daughter – singer Ana Gracey – and three grand children, Lili, Isabelle and Benjamin.

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View Barbara’s Projects

  • 1st Movement

    1st Movement “Mirages”

    Composed by Barbara Thompson MBE. Performed by Tetraphonics Saxophone Quartet

  • 2nd Movement

    2nd Movement “Mirages”

    Composed by Barbara Thompson MBE. Performed by Tetraphonics Saxophone Quartet

  • 3rd Movement

    3rd Movement “Mirages”

    Composed by Barbara Thompson MBE. Performed by Tetraphonics Saxophone Quartet

  • 4th Movement

    4th Movement “Mirages”

    Composed by Barbara Thompson MBE. Performed by Tetraphonics Saxophone Quartet

  • Barbara Thompson's Concerto for 3 Saxophones

    Barbara Thompson’s Concerto for 3 Saxophones

    Performed at the World Saxophone Congress on the 9th July 2015 with the Orchestra Philharmonique de Strasbourg, the Concerto is in three movements.

  • The Sky's the Limit

    The Sky’s the Limit

    The Sky’s The Limit composed by Barbara Thompson, performed by Jess Gillam, finalist BBC 'Young Musician of the Year' 2016

    • Shadow-Show
    • BARBARATHOMPSONRODARGENTGHOSTS
    • BTLive19802
    • Wildtales
    • BARBARA_THOMPSON_PARAPHERNALIA-471770

    Transcriptions of four of our early LPs previously unreleased on CD

    After many requests, we are offering five early LP's as high quality CD-R's.

  • Jazz Rock and Marriage 1979

    Jazz Rock and Marriage 1979

    Mike Dibb’s film of the life, careers and music of Jon and Barbara finds them at home and on the road, including the Bracknell Jazz Festival performance.

  • Barbara Thompson: Playing Against Time

    Barbara Thompson: Playing Against Time

    The feature-length BBC documentary about Barbara's inspiring and creative struggle with Parkinson's disease.

  • Little Annie-Ooh

    Little Annie-Ooh

    Dedicated to Barbara's daughter Ana Gracey (not so little anymore!). Played by Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia. From "The Jazz Series" early 1980's

  • SPIN from 'Russian Roulette'

    SPIN from ‘Russian Roulette’

    Trifarious plays the second movement from Barbara Thompson's 'Russian Roulette' written especially for the ensemble in 2013 and premiered at The Forge, Camden on 15th May 2013.

  • Double Trouble

    Double Trouble

    A Duet for Tuba by Barbara Thompson