HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Barbara Thompson MBE, 70 today

Barbara Thompson, Bonn 2010.
Photo Credit: Eckhard Henkel/ Wikimedia Commons

We wish saxophonist Barbara Thompson the happiest of seventieth birthdays today Sunday 27th July. Barbara Thompson’s inspirational recent life has been chronicled in Mike Dibb’s 2011 marvellous documentary Playing Against Time (Reviewed Here).

Birthday wishes have come in from many sources: composer/arranger Mike Gibbs, fellow saxophonist Stan Sulzmann, and several LondonJazz News contributors. (Thank you Colin Richardson for reminding us.)

Colosseum will be on  tour in Europe in October and November. And returning to London! Shepherds Bush Empire, 28th February 2015. Details from the Temple Music website.

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Dear Barbara

Last time we hung out (at Pepi’s Party! – about three/four years ago), you were planning a trip to (one of your) homes in France,

some tennis games,

and had a busy practicing routine with lots of music events on the horizon –

and now – word on the grapevine is that you’re planning a tour –


Welcome to turning 70,

Congratulations – as this next phase begins.

With lots of love, and very best wishes, and the Happiest of Big Birthdays –

I will lookout for your tour schedule and catch you somewhere.

Lots of Love, Michael


 Hi Barbara – – happy birthday and remarkable career . Very humbled to see such tenacity in the face of a dreadful illness, my father battled with the same. Particularly difficult for a woodwind player. – – We didn’t cross paths very much but I do have a nice memory of visiting yours and Jon’s studio with the London Jazz Orch many years back and of you taking care of us all so well. Such hospitality and you prepared a beautiful spread of food to keep us all going. No mean feat! Have a great day. Best Wishes Stan Sulzmann

NADINE ANDRÉ (of the ensemble Trifarious):

Barbara Thompson is a very inspirational, dynamic lady. Her energy is infectious. Most of the time if I’m in a room with composers it can be quite nerve-racking, and they can be extremely pernickety. But she’s really great, open to ideas and suggestions. She’s really clear about what she wants and yet really respects the musicians and allows them to have a bit of input. She’s very open-minded. Thank you Barbara, and Happy Birthday.


Barbara is an inspiration to everyone she meets. Her passion for and dedication to music is formidable. Alongside her considerable personal achievements, she is totally committed to supporting other musicians. Happy 70th Birthday Barbara!


Since 1978, I have seen Barbara alongside Charlie Mariano, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Ian Carr, Enrico Rava, Bill LeSage, Dave Greenslade, Michal Urbaniak, Eberhard Weber and, almost every time, her wonderful and lucky husband, Jon Hiseman. She is (still) under-appreciated as an instrumentalist, composer, arranger and an extremely generous teacher. In the nicest possible way, she is the ultimate Jazz Chick and always will be. I wish her a very happy birthday and all the best for the future. Andy

….ROB MALLOWS: Happy birthday – I have enjoyed your vibrant jazz since seeing you with Paraphernalia live in Yorkshire. Keep playing hard!…. ALISON BENTLEY: The fact that Barbara Thompson exists has always been inspirational…..MELODY AND IAN MCLAREN: (see also picture below) Happy 70th birthday to Barbara Thompson – your courageous journey and music are an inspiration to all of us. Best wishes from Melody and Ian McLaren

Ian McLaren, Barbara Thompson, Trish Clowes
St James’s Piccadilly 15 November 2012. Photo Credit: Melody McLaren

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