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Saxophonist Barbara Thompson dead at 77

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    Posted: 10 Jul 2022 at 12:05pm
Jazz rock saxophonist Barbara Thompson MBE has died, aged 77, her daughter has confirmed. The wife of late Colosseum drummer Jon Hiseman had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for the past 25 years.

In a statement, Thompson's daughter, singer-songwriter Ana Gracey said: "My mum had the most extraordinary spirit - she never gave up, however, her body finally let her down after a valiant battle with Parkinsonís over the course of 25 years alongside complications with her heart towards the end. We dearly hope that she and our father have found each other once again."

Thompson is best known to fans of progressive music for her work in jazz rockers Colosseum and with Manfred Mann's Earth Band (she featured on 1976's The Roaring Silence and 1980's Chance) and the Keef Hartley Band, however she was also lauded for her contribution to jazz and contemporary classical music as well.

Thompson had studied  saxophone and classical composition at the Royal College Of Music, but through her love of the music of John Coltrane and Duke Ellington, she concentrated on jazz. She married Hiseman in 1967 (the pair had met in 1964) and featured on the band's second album, 1969's Valentyne Suite and 1970's fourth album Daughter Of Time from the band's original phase.

She helped form the jazz rock group United Jazz + Rock Ensemble, fronted Barbara Thompson's Jubiaba, a nine-piece latin rock outfit who also featured former Soft Machine bassist Roy Babbington, and Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia, which also featured her late husband.

Thompson appeared on Andrew Lloyd-Webber's 1978 classical fusion album Variations and also worked with him on musicals such as Cats and Starlight Express, composed incidental music for the David Jason detective series A Touch Of Frost and also plated flute on Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds.

Thompson was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1997 and retired as an active saxophonist in 2001 with a farewell tour. She returned to the stage in 2003 and featured at Colosseum's final live show at Shepherd's Bush Empire in 2015.

from www.loudersound.com

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