Barbara Thompson, who has died aged 77, was a trailblazing saxophonist and flautist who battered down barriers to break into the then male-dominated world of British jazz, becoming widely celebrated for her groundbreaking fusion music, notably with Paraphernalia, the innovative band she fronted for more than 30 years.
Yet it was the unlikely catalyst of a television show that launched her into mainstream culture, when her haunting sax solo featured prominently in ITV’s long-running detective series A Touch of Frost, starring David Jason. In part based on The Fanaid Grove, a mournful Irish folk tune from Donegal, which appeared on her 1990 album Songs From the Center of the Earth, the theme was re-written by Barbara and her husband Jon Hiseman as the show’s emotive title music, and became synonymous with Frost throughout its 18-year run.

Barbara Gracey Thompson was born in Oxford on July 27 1944, the daughter of David Thompson, registrar at the Court of Criminal Appeal, and Joan. A grandfather played piano while a grandmother was a cellist and, as a schoolgirl in London, she learnt recorder, clarinet and piano at school, going on to play in her early teens with the London Schools Symphony Orchestra.
She was appointed MBE for services to music in 1996, and a 14-CD box set Live At The BBC was released on the Repertoire label in 2020. Barbara Thompson’s husband Jon Hiseman died in 2018, and she is survived by their son and daughter.

 

Update on recent jazz concerts and gigs attended.

Last month (June) I attended the Upton upon Severn Jazz Festival restarted after a two year absence. A lot smaller than in previous years it nevertheless provided some excellent jazz. The ticketed events sold out quickly but there was plenty of free music on offer at various venues around the town, including The Sauce City Band from Worcester (Worcester; Sauce - geddit?) an excellent trad band. They were at The Muggery, a pub always worth visiting for the unusual interior and excellent ales. There were some unusual quirky line-ups at the Free Fringe at the Swan Hotel and some excellent school and youth bands.
Next year's festival is planned, as always, for the last weekend in June: 23rd in 2023.
Our esteemed chairman was also there and will no doubt be updating us with his thoughts in due course.
DW July 22.

Sadly, I was unable to attend either of the sessions I hoped in the Ashwell music festival. The Dave Rance Rockin' Chair band is a great trad band combining great music with awful jokes. Italian pianist Marco Marconi is a great talent and I was looking forward to hearing him. Unfortunately I was struck down with that sniffly lurgi which is not Covid but nevertheless spread like wildfire during mid-May, and so missed out.
I recovered in time to visit the Spice of Life, Cambridge Circus on May 23rd to see the Davison Hemstock Quintet. A very talented group of young musicians, together with the wonderful Richard Pite, compere and drummer extrodinaire, playing mostly mainstream with a couple of nods to be-bop and Dixeland
That was my second visit to this venue, having, in April, seen the great Digby Fairweather Quintet with