10 original compositions by Barbara Thompson for 12-piece saxophone orchestra released 16th July 2012
Andy Scott and Rob Buckland of the Royal Northern College of Music suggested Barbara write and arrange enough pieces to make a CD for large saxophone ensemble back in July 2011. The power of the twelve saxes was awesome in the concert hall at the RNCM which was ideally suited to record the ASO and resulted in a unique sound, truly orchestral beyond its size.
The CD was launched at a tribute concert for Barbara at the recent 16th World Saxophone Congress in St Andrews in Scotland. Barbara and Jon attended and a short version of the BBC documentary, “Playing Against Time” was shown.
Barbara even fell in love…. with a new Yanagisawa soprano saxophone which she purchased from Howarths of London who were exhibiting there. Thanks to all at Howarths and Yanagisawa and their distributors Barnes & Mullins, who supported this project.
I first came across Barbara Thompson, the saxophone player and composer of all the tracks on this excellent CD, when she used to play at the Bull’s Head at Barnes – a well-known jazz watering hole at the time – where wonderful players appeared every week. She didn’t write quite as much then as she does now, prevented as she is from performing regularly, due to a serious illness. You’ll know her work, whether you realise it or not, if you’ve every watched ‘A Touch of Frost’ on TV. The original theme music was weritten and performed by Barbara with her ensemble, which always included her husband, the drummer Jon Hiseman (who founded ‘Colosseum’ and ‘Tempest’). He now runs a recording studio next to their home, as well as being Barbara’s full-time carer, driver and morale-booster, when he isn’t playing himself.
This is a CD of ten of Barbara’s compositions. She was trained as a classical musician at the Royal College of Music, so she knows all the harmonic rules, as well as having a jazz-player’s slant on things. The Apollo Saxophone Orchestra consists of 12 players, on instruments ranging from sopranino to bass saxophone. The excellent recording was made in the Royal Northern College of Music’s concert hall. Dave Gelly’s CD notes are very informative. This CD is a joy. Thank you, Nimbus!
The wide spectrum of the compositions shows us the dark side of saxophone sound. The performance of this orchestra is perfect on this CD with highest recording quality. It’s more than a milestone!