Chris Welch describes the concert below:
Summer began with a special tribute concert in memory of Barbara Thompson M.B.E organised by her daughter Ana Gracey and held at the Union Chapel, Islington on June 2. It was a great night when an array of artists and groups performed to a packed audience in the imposing hall. The show was introduced by Ana who explained the aim was to celebrate Barbara’s life and contribution to both jazz and classical music she concluded ‘Long may her legacy live on.’
Barbara’s brother Marcus also spoke, giving thanks to Repertoire Records director Thomas Neelsen who had sponsored the event. Among the many highlights was a re-creation of Barbara Thompson’s Paraphernalia, with Emma Rawicz playing lively soprano saxophone which Snake Davis followed with a piece on tenor together with Billy Thompson on electrifying violin, Pete Lemer on keyboards, Taif Ball and Phil Mulford alternating on bass and Gary Husband on drums.
It was also remarkable to see Barbara and Barbara’s husband Jon Hiseman joining in proceedings, thanks to synchronised video wizardry, playing sax and drums, projected on a screen above the stage.
‘A Cry From the Heart’ a slow blues featuring tenor saxophonist Andy Scott and guitarist Paul Dunne proved another moving moment followed by the chamber music trio Trifarious and the Rascher Saxophone Quartet all the way from Germany. Ana returned to the stage dueting with her mother on ‘Fairweather’ a delicate ballad about climate change. “Mum, that was for you…’ she said to prolonged applause. Saxophone star of the classical world Jess Gillam opened the second half which included Barbara’s arrangements of Kurt Weill pieces performed by The Weill String Quartet led by violinist Simon Baggs with Trish Clowes on saxophone. Later came on stage the stars of legendary jazz-rock band Colosseum, lead guitarist Dave ‘Clem’ Clempson with singer Chris Farlowe and bassist and vocalist Mark Clarke joined by Saxophonists Tom Ridout and Snake Davis. The all-female Marici Saxophone Quartet were another highlight alongside a performance by Barbara’s granddaughter Isabelle Hiseman who played saxophone beautifully to Peter Lemer’s grand piano and Billy Thompson’s violin accompaniment. Paraphernalia rejoined the stage together with fifty strong choir Big Sky featuring Kim Cypher on saxophone and Clem Clempson on guitar creating a grand finale that ensured it was a night to remember!
Photos by Ron Milsom with thanks.