Barbara Thompson (musician)

Barbara Gracey Thompson MBE (born 27 July 1944) is an English jazz saxophonist. She studied saxophone 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. She was married to drummer Jon Hiseman of Colosseum from 1967 until his death in 2018.[1]

Barbara Thompson
Barbara Thompson in 2010
Background information
Birth nameBarbara Gracey Thompson
Born (1944-07-27) 27 July 1944
Oxford, England
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
Years active1964–present
LabelsMCA, Mood, Intuition
Associated actsUnited Jazz + Rock Ensemble, Paraphernalia, Jubiaba, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Moving Parts, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Colosseum


Around 1970, Thompson was part of Neil Ardley's New Jazz Orchestra[2][3] and appeared on albums by Colosseum.[4] Beginning 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, which was 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]

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.

She played the incidental music in the 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.

From 1967, until he died in June 2018, Thompson was married to the Colosseum drummer Jon Hiseman.[9] The couple's son Marcus was born in 1972, and their daughter Anna (now known as singer/songwriter Ana Gracey) in 1975.[1]


1966The Man Who Took the Valise Off the Floor of Grand Central Station at NoonThe She Trinity
1968AngleHoward Riley Trio
1969Valentyne SuiteColosseum
1970Daughter of TimeColosseum
1970Michael GibbsMichael Gibbs
1971Little Big BandKeef Hartley Band
1973The Beginning – Vol. 6: Keef Hartley BandKeef Hartley Band
1973Mike Taylor RememberedJon Hiseman, Neil Ardley, Ian Carr etc.
1976The Roaring SilenceManfred Mann's Earth Band
1976Kaleidoscope of RainbowsNeil Ardley
1977Live in SchuetzenhausUnited Jazz + Rock Ensemble
1977NDR Jazzworkshop '77Various Artists
1978Barbara Thompson's ParaphernaliaBarbara Thompson's Paraphernalia
1978Barbara Thompson's JubiabaBarbara Thompson
1978VariationsAndrew Lloyd Webber
1978Harmony of the SpheresNeil Ardley
1978TeamworkUnited Jazz + Rock Ensemble
1979Wilde TalesBarbara Thompson's Paraphernalia
1979Tell Me on a SundayMarti Webb
1979The Break Even PointUnited Jazz + Rock Ensemble
1980Live in ConcertBarbara Thompson's Paraphernalia
1980ChanceManfred Mann's Earth Band
1981CatsAndrew Lloyd Webber
1981Live in BerlinUnited Jazz + Rock Ensemble
1981Zwischenbilanz –Das Beste aus den Jahren 1977 –1981United Jazz + Rock Ensemble
1982Mother EarthBarbara Thompson
1982GhostsBarabara Thompson/Rod Argent
1983Cool CatJeff Wohlgenannt and Friends
1983RequiemAndrew Lloyd Webber
1984Pure FantasyBarbara Thompson's Paraphernalia
1984United Live Opus SechsUnited Jazz + Rock Ensemble
1985Frauen – PowerVarious Artists
1985Shadow ShowBarbara Thompson/Rod Argent
1985Live im Berliner Metropol – TheaterBarbara Thompson's Paraphernalia
1986Heavenly BodiesBarbara Thompson
1986Ganz schoen heiss, Man! About Time Too!Jon Hiseman
1987Highlights IIUnited Jazz + Rock Ensemble
1988A Cry from the HeartBarbara Thompson's Paraphernalia Live in London
1990Songs from the Center of the EarthBarbara Thompson
1991Perspective '92Various Artists
1991BreathlessBarbara Thompson's Paraphernalia
1992Round SevenUnited Jazz + Rock Ensemble
1993Everlasting FlameBarbara Thompson's Paraphernalia
1995Barbara SongBarbara Thompson and the Medici String Quartet
1995Lady SaxophoneBarbara Thompson's Paraphernalia
1996Die Neunte von UnitedUnited Jazz + Rock Ensemble
1996Women's Music from Celestial HarmoniesVarious Artists
1998Shifting SandsBarbara Thompson's Paraphernalia
1998The Sound Inside / Music and ArchitectureVarious Artists
1999XUnited Jazz + Rock Ensemble
2000Thompson's Tangos and Other Soft DancesBarbara Thompson's Paraphernalia
2001Cuff CloutKate Westbrook and Mike Westbrook
2003In the Eye of a StormBarbara Thompson's Paraphernalia
20042006Manfred Mann '06 with Manfred Mann's Earth Band
2005Never Say GoodbyeBarbara Thompson's Paraphernalia
2007Live 05Colosseum
2011George Martin PresentsBarbara Thompson
2014Live '05 (DVD)Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia
2015The Last FandangoBarbara Thompson's Paraphernalia


  1. Barbara Thompson biography Archived 20 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine at Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  2. Neil Ardley at AllMusic. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  3. New Jazz Orchestra: Camden '70 – credits at AllMusic
  4. Barbara Thompson – credits at AllMusic. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  5. Mathieson, Kenny (April 2001). "British Beat: Saxophonist Barbara Thompson". All About Jazz. Archived from the original on 26 December 2001. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  6. United Jazz + Rock Ensemble at AllMusic. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  7. Jubiaba – credits at AllMusic. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  8. Colosseum live at Rockpalast, September 27, 2003 (YouTube)
  9. Pareles, Jon (12 June 2018). "Jon Hiseman, 73, Drummer Who Melded Rock, Jazz and Blues". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
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