Barbara Thompson


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

  • 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

    • BTLive19802
    • Wildtales

    Transcriptions of four of our early LPs previously unreleased on CD

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

    •  BBC Documentary
    • 16 February 2012, Time Out
    • Playing Against Time, The Lancet, Jan 2012

    Barbara Thompson: Playing Against Time

    2 reviews of 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

  • Green


    The 4th of 6 movements from Barbara Thompson's saxophone quartet suite 'From Darkness into Light'.

  • RED


    The 3rd of 6 movements from Barbara Thompson's saxophone quartet suite 'From Darkness into Light'.

  • United Jazz and Rock Ensemble - Plays Barbara Thompson

    United Jazz and Rock Ensemble – Plays Barbara Thompson

    This compilation album issued in 2002 contains seven numbers composed by Barbara Thompson and performed live or in the studio with the United Jazz and Rock Ensemble between 1978 and 1999.

  • Three Quartets - The Apollo Saxophone Quartet

    Three Quartets – The Apollo Saxophone Quartet

    Three Quartets, making up nineteen tracks in all, composed by Barbara Thompson for The Apollo Saxophone Quartet. "Jazz rhythms met minimalism in a lyrical embrace..."

  • Perpetual Motion - The Apollo Saxophone Orchestra

    Perpetual Motion – The Apollo Saxophone Orchestra

    10 original compositions by Barbara Thompson for 12-piece saxophone orchestra released 16th July 2012