Barbara Thompson (musician)

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Barbara Gracey Thompson
2010-11-01 Colosseum, Brueckenforum, Bonn IMG 6440 Barbara Thompson.jpg
Barbara Thompson in 2010
Background information
Born (1944-07-27) 27 July 1944 (age 71)
Oxford, England
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Saxophonist, flautist, composer
Associated acts Rod Argent
United Jazz and Rock Ensemble
Notable instruments
Saxophone, flute

Barbara Gracey Thompson MBE (born 27 July 1944 in Oxford) is an English jazz saxophonist, flautist and composer. She studied clarinet, flute, piano and classical composition at the Royal College of Music, but the music of Duke Ellington and John Coltrane made her shift her interests to jazz and saxophone. Since 1967, she has been married to drummer Jon Hiseman of Colosseum.[1]

Barbara Thompson, 1992


Around 1970, Thompson was part of Neil Ardley's New Jazz Orchestra[2][3] and appeared on albums by Colosseum.[4] Starting in 1975, she was involved in the foundation of three bands:

She was awarded the MBE in 1996 for services to music. Due to Parkinson's disease diagnosed in 1997, she retired as an active saxophonist in 2001 with a farewell tour.[5] After a period of working as a composer exclusively, she returned to the stage in 2003[8] to replace the unwell Dick Heckstall-Smith during Colosseum's "Tomorrow's Blues" tour, and in 2005 she performed live with Paraphernalia in their "Never Say Goodbye" tour. Since 2004 she has been a permanent member of Colosseum.

Thompson has worked closely with Andrew Lloyd Webber on musicals[5] such as Cats and Starlight Express and on his Requiem. She has written several classical compositions, music for film and television, a musical of her own and songs for the United Jazz and Rock Ensemble, Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia and her big band Moving Parts.

Her playing, if not her name, will be familiar to a wider audience, from her playing the incidental music in the popular ITV police series A Touch of Frost starring David Jason. She also played flute on Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds.


Since 1967, Thompson has been married to Colosseum drummer Jon Hiseman. Their son Marcus was born in 1972, and their daughter Anna (now known as singer/songwriter Ana Gracey) in 1975.


  • The Man Who Took The Valise Off The Floor Of Grand Central Station At Noon The She Trinity 1966
  • Angle Howard Riley Trio 1968
  • Valentyne Suite Colosseum 1969
  • Daughter of Time Colosseum 1970
  • Michael Gibbs Michael Gibbs 1970
  • Little Big Band Keef Hartley Band 1971
  • The Beginning – Vol. 6: Keef Hartley Band Keef Hartley Band 1973
  • Saxophone on The Roaring Silence by Manfred Mann's Earth Band 1976
  • Kaleidoscope Of Rainbows Neil Ardley 1976
  • Live Im Schuetzenhaus United Jazz and Rock Ensemble 1977
  • NDR Jazzworkshop '77 Various Artists 1977
  • Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia 1978 (Roy Babbington, Harold Fisher, Colin Dudman) MCA MCF 2852
  • Barbara Thompson's Jubiaba Barbara Thompson 1978
  • Variations Andrew Lloyd Webber 1978
  • Harmony of the Spheres Neil Ardley 1978
  • Teamwork United Jazz and Rock Ensemble 1978
  • Wilde Tales Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia 1979
  • Tell Me On A Sunday Marti Webb 1979
  • The Break Even Point United Jazz and Rock Ensemble 1979
  • Live In Concert Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia 1980
  • Chance Manfred Mann's Earth Band 1980
  • Cats Andrew Lloyd Webber 1981
  • Live in Berlin United Jazz and Rock Ensemble 1981
  • Zwischenbilanz-Das Beste aus den Jahren 1977–1981 United Jazz and Rock Ensemble 1981
  • Mother Earth Barbara Thompson 1982
  • Ghosts Barabara Thompson/Rod Argent 1982
  • Cool Cat Jeff And Friends Wohlgenannt 1983
  • Requiem Andrew Lloyd Webber 1983
  • Pure Fantasy Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia 1984
  • United Live Opus sechs United Jazz and Rock Ensemble 1984
  • Frauen-Power Various Artists 1985
  • Shadow Show Barbara Thompson/Rod Argent 1985
  • Live im Berliner Metropol-Theater Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia 1985
  • Heavenly Bodies Barbara Thompson 1986
  • Ganz schoen heiss, Man! About Time Too! Jon Hiseman 1986
  • Highlights II United Jazz and Rock Ensemble 1987
  • A Cry From The Heart Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia Live in London 1988
  • Songs From The Center Of The Earth Barbara Thompson 1990
  • Perspective '92 Various Artists 1991
  • Breathless Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia 1991
  • Round Seven United Jazz and Rock Ensemble 1992
  • Everlasting Flame Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia 1993
  • Barbara Song Barbara Thompson and the Medici String Quartet 1995
  • Lady Saxophone Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia 1995
  • Die Neunte von United United Jazz and Rock Ensemble 1996
  • Women's Music From Celestial Harmonies Various Artists 1996
  • Shifting Sands Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia 1998
  • The Sound Inside / Music And Architecture Various Artists 1998
  • X United Jazz and Rock Ensemble 1999
  • Thompson's Tangos and other soft Dances Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia 2000
  • Cuff Clout Kate and Mike Westbrook 2001
  • In the Eye of a Storm Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia 2003
  • 2006 Manfred Mann '06 with Manfred Mann's Earth Band 2004
  • Never Say Goodbye Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia 2005
  • Live05 Colosseum 2007
  • Live '05 Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia (DVD) 2011
  • Time On Our Side Colosseum 2014


  1. ^ a b Barbara Thompson biography at Retrieved 2011-01-09.
  2. ^ Neil Ardley at AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-01-09.
  3. ^ New Jazz Orchestra: Camden '70 – credits at AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-01-09.
  4. ^ Barbara Thompson – credits at AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-01-09.
  5. ^ a b c d Mathieson, Kenny (April 2001). "British Beat: Saxophonist Barbara Thompson". All About Jazz. Archived from the original on 2001-07-10. Retrieved 2011-01-09. 
  6. ^ United Jazz + Rock Ensemble at AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-01-09.
  7. ^ Jubiaba – credits at AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-01-09.
  8. ^ Colosseum live at Rockpalast, September 27, 2003 (YouTube)

External links[edit]