Multi-instrumentalist, Barbara Thompson, studied at London’s Royal Academy of Music. In the mid 70s, she worked as a session saxophonist on numerous jazz and rock albums. During that time, she also completed three works for jazz and classical players commissioned by the BBC. In 1977, Thompson formed the jazz fusion group, Paraphernalia, which recorded several albums and gained a loyal following throughout Europe. Thompson also played with a nineteen-piece big band called Moving Parts, comprised of some of the finest young players in the United Kingdom. Other projects include work with the Jon Hiseman Quartet and the United Jazz & Rock Ensemble, a ten-piece group featuring Kenny Wheeler, Wolfgang Dauner and Charlie Mariano.
Songs from the Center of the Earth is a solo recording by veteran British jazz saxophonist, composer and band leader, Barbara Thompson. On Songs from the Center of the Earth, the rich yet plaintive sounds of Thompson’s saxophones seem to ring through the mists of time. Her compelling solo improvisations on ancient melodies were recorded over two hot summer nights in August 1990 at the historic Abbey du Thoronet in Var, Provence, France. I have long thought that folk songs lie dormant at the center of us until recognition is triggered by an experience,’ she says. ‘As the Abbey dates back to medieval times, I thought it fitting to play traditional church and folk pieces from all over the world, some of which are older than the Abbey itself.’ The warm, resonant setting enhances Thompson’s updated interpretations of Irish airs, twelth century Crusade chants, Syrian love ballads, ancient Spanish cradle songs and folk melodies from Greece, Germany, Jamaica, Brazil and Uruguay. Performing on soprano, alto and tenor saxophones, Thompson draws on her extensive jazz background to embellish this music with expressive pitch bends and glissandos that bring these age-old tunes firmly into the twentieth century. Sometimes gently reminiscent, sometimes powerful in their evocation of timeless emotions, Thompson’s masterful improvisations provide an eloquent commentary on the past.’
This is a definitve masterpiece by Barbara Thompson ! ! !
Barbara Thompson (saxophone)
01. Fanaid Grove 3.39
02. Nobilis Humilis 4.44
03. Chanterai Por Mon Coraige (I would be singing for Consolation) 4.12
04. Al Ya Zane (Oh Thou Zane) 5.07
05. Cancion De Cuna 3.30
06. Toriad Y Dydd (Day-Break) 4.32
07. Suspira Coracao Triste (My Heart is Heavy with Sadness) 2.37
08. Whereto Should I Express 3.03
09. Estilo 3.50
10. O My Love How Long 3.14
11. Winder Wie Ist No Dien Kraft (Winter Now Your End is Near) 4.26
12. I Can’t Stay in Egypt Lan’ 2.57
13. De Ribber Ben Come Dung 4.08
14. Down By the Sally Gardens 3.21
Comments to the music:
Track 1: This is a traditional Irish ballad describing the sad tale of a young girl and her baby, rejected by her lover and left out on the cold mountainside to die.
Track 2: 12th Century Hymn to St. Magnus, Earl of Orkney.
Track 3: 12th Century song of the Crusades sung by the lonely and anxious women left behind at their spinning and weaving, while the men fought in the land of the Saracens.
Track 4: Syrian Love Song. The literal meaning of “Zane-il-Abedeen” is “fairest of all the worshippers”.
Track 5: Ancient Spanish cradlesong.
Track 6: Traditional Welsh song.
Track 7: A Brazilian modhina, an urban love song of deep sentiment and passionate yearning.
Track 8: King Henry VIII of England (1491-1547).
Track 9: This song commemorates Jose Artiga, the national hero of Uruguay, and has two moods, the first slow and pensive, and the second faster and more spirited.
Track 10: Greek folk song.
Track 11: German troubadour song attributed to Neidhart von Ruental ca. 1190-1240.
Track 12: Bahamian spiritual of African origin, combining elements of protest and yearning for freedom.
Track 13: Jamaican digging song.
Track 14: Based on the Irish air, The Maid of Mourne Shor, with lyrics by W. B. Yeats.