page has some articles from recent tours, concerts & CDs..
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From the Cambrian News, 02/04/2015
NB. Billy wishes to make clear that the
bit about Ronnie Scott's must have been a misunderstanding on the
part of the reporter.
|Mike Westbrook's Glad Day Live
Review by Richard Williams for The Blue Moment
... The audience remained silent between the individual pieces, reluctant to disturb the mood, but the dramatic conclusion of “The Poison Tree”, on which tango rhythms propelled Kate’s bitter vocal and Thompson’s dazzling fiddle solo, provoked spontaneous cheering...
... Nothing was more quietly electrifying than the transition from Minton’s open-hearted vocal to Thompson’s spirit-possessed violin which led from “The Fields” to the concluding “I See Thy Form”...
Review by Chris Parker from London Jazz News
... Impeccably played by Karen Street (accordion), Billy Thompson (violin), Steve Berry (bass) and Mike Westbrook himself (piano), and with the Queldryk Choral Ensemble directed by Paul Ayres providing stirring vocal support...
All reviewa in full here...
|Mike Westbrook's Glad Day Live DVD/CD
5-star review by Karl Dallas from the Morning Star
... Westbrook has always supplemented his own musical brilliance with remarkable musicians, and this recording is no exception, from the gypsy violin of Billy Thompson to the accordion of Karen Street, who sounds like a bal-musette on acid...
Review by Andy Robson for JazzWise
The choir's youth, in angelic contrast to the band's embodied experience, is fantastic: like a theatre chorus they guide our emotion as they witness with awe Thompson's ecstatic anger on 'Let The Slave' or Street's lyric melancholy on 'Holy Thursday'. In a world that puts a price on everything, this music, this vision remains priceless.
Review by Chris Searle for the Morning Star
... Thompson's violin cries out in outrageous beauty as Minton sings of the freed slave, "his chains are loose, his dungeon doors are open... for empire is no more."
Blake’s contrasts are harmonised in The Tyger and the Lamb firstly by Berry’s pulsating, delving bass and then by a host of women’s voices and the power of Street’s astonishing accordion.
She [Karen Street] is there too at the outset of A Poison Tree, spectral, menacing and full of portent before Kate’s own ominous vocal and Thompson’s grim, dancing solo.
The blues are in Whitechapel and all through Long John Brown and Little Mary Bell, Minton’s growling voice and Westbrook’s aching piano tell the story of the Devil’s spoliation of love before Thompson’s bow adds its shimmering tailpiece.
Berry’s long, thudding then mercurial solo and Thompson’s wailing violin introduce the key opening lines of The Human Abstract.
Review by Phillip Clark for Gramaphone
... Billy Thompson's extended solos are a joy throughout.
All reviewa in full here...
Thompson & Paraphernalia
from Paraphernalia's first gig of the 'Never Say Goodbye' tour at 'Halle' in Kiel, Germany. [Tricky German to translate apparently so do excuse the flowery nature of this article].
Partner in der nordClick-Gruppe nordClick/kn vom 05.11.2005
Tourstart: Barbara Thompson und Paraphernalia in der Halle 400
Kiel - To come back from neverland, means having been there in the first place. For Barbara Thompson neverland was never whereabouts. So it’s no surprise that the saxophonist is back on stage with Paraphernalia, after she had withdrawn in 2001 owe to sickness. Unfortunately “Halle 400” was just half-filled. The prelude-concert of the “never-say-good-bye tour“ didn’t have any soppy character. The ambitious songs and the professional approach of Barbara Thompson and her enthusiastic co-musicians Jon Hiseman (drums), Peter Lemer (keyboard), Billy Thompson (violin) and Dave Ball (bass) were a warrant against a night full of sentimental memories and nostalgic moments.
With two new records in their luggage, a “Best Of” and the new album “Never say Goodbye”, upcoming in December, they keep on working with the same well-tried weapons of creativity they have been using since the 70’s against old-fashioned listener habits: A fusion of progressive or art rock, also elements of classical music and folk, as well as the omnipresent jazz. Their technical ability and the unbroken virtuosity working with refined rhythmic patterns are a passionate statement for the seriousness of popular music.
Thus the music is full of complexity, it never sounds arrogant, but is always sincere. The acoustics in the half full hall is good, even though the sound seems to be a bit clinical, but this is a matter taste in the end. This blend is extremely important for these breathtaking epical constructs of sound and miniatures of complex tonebuilding. Songs like the classically composed Tuba Concerto, Shifting Sands or Benny Golsons Are You Real would lose their impact without this kind of transparency. The songs are being given time by Paraphernalia, and this way the band revives a long forgotten virtue.
Instead of compressing the musical message in improvised staccato, especially the brilliant Billy Thompson on the violin drives along all the side streets and beaten paths of harmonics. Against every Rock’n’Roll philosophy with Paraphernalia more is actually more. For some this transcendental ardour may seem too much; music might sound talkative then, but never irrelevant. The cause is the improvisatory potential of all the musicians and the surprising understanding of the band members, if you know that this is thgeir first concert after such a long break.
The enthusiastically celebrated concert ends after two hours and three encores with sentimentally effected feelings that obviously no misfortune in the world is able to stop the love for passion.
- Manuel Weber
July 15, 2003.
... Talking of mellow tones, a compilation
usefully gathers up 13 of the quieter pieces by Barbara Thompson.
The saxophonist is no longer performing because of Parkinson's disease
but is still writing and arranging. In the Eye of the Storm (Intuition)
is a does-what- it-says-on-the-tin release. "This is music
for relaxing . . . so pull over from the fast lane for a few moments,"
Thompson purrs on the sleevenotes. Twenty years of tracks show how
good she is at creating atmosphere. Her TV theme for A Touch of
Frost should attract a listenership beyond the jazzerati, though
the violin-fueled Little Annie-Ooh is the loveliest moment.
The jagged-edged Bad Blues ensures that we don't sink too deeply
into soft focus.
Watch & Listen to Billy's Little Annie
Solo filmed at Ronnie Scott's, 2001:
Annie Ooh' solo goodquality.mov
The Eye of the Storm:
on the cover to buy securely with your credit card...
are two reviews from our 2001 visit to Ronnie
Scott's club, London, April 02 - 07, 2001.
on the cover to buy securely with your credit card...
Standard, Thursday 9th of March 2000.
'Bring on the
BARBARA THOMPSON'S PARAPHERNALIA **
Billy Thompson added a vital string to his bow when he reached the
Sun Alliance Young Jazz Musician of the Year finals two years ago.
He didn't win, but his dramatic solos, executed with a photogenic
flourish, persuaded one of the judges that he would be ideal for
her group. The shrewd judge was none other than Barbara Thompson,
no relation but winner of several awards herself, including the
OBE for services to British jazz. Sparked by the rock-forged drumming
of her husband Jon Hiseman, she performs high energy folk-jazz fusion
and Billy's florid style suits that music perfectly.
from playing all the saxes, plus flute, with an expertise one would
expect from a graduate of the Royal College of Music, Barbara is
also a colourful composer whose latest CD, Shifting Sands reflects
a strong Klezmer influence.
night her snake-charmer melodies and rolling rhythms had so strong
a middle-Eastern flavour that a couple of belly dancers would not
have gone amiss on stage. Synth man Peter Lemer and bassist Dave
Ball contributed stealthily to the underlying throb as Billy and
Barbara strutted their very different stuff.
Temple Music review:
Recorded summer '98 this album features Peter
Lemer, Paul Westwood, Jon Hiseman, and a new member violinist Billy
Thompson (no relation!) making one of the most exciting recording
debuts for some time. This brilliant and original instrumentalist
joins Paraphenalia for the up-coming tours and fulfills Barbara's
long-standing ambition to return to a saxophone/violin front line.
Click on the cover to buy securely with your credit card...
from Paraphernalia's gig at 'Moments' in Bremen during the 'Shifting
Sands' tour in Germany. Translated by Denise Thompson.
- Kurier, Bremen.
there is another Thompson'
The English saxophonist Barbara
Thompson has directed Paraphernalia for over 20 years. This band,
like Ian Carr's 'Nucleus', has a firm place in the language of British
Jazz Rock. Paraphernalia's early happy experimenting with what at
first seemed like two contrasting components - Jazz and Rock - has
given way to a certain solidity. The former 'mixing' of Jazz with
free Rock which seemed so completely different to current Jazz structures
is seen today as perfectly normal. The ex-rebels are now the established
ones who present their Jazz-Rock in ever-new but also well-known forms.
Barbara Thompson herself may have noticed this for after many years
touring with the proven and practised quartet - the experienced keyboard
player Peter Lemer, her husband Jon Hiseman and for the past five
years the bass player Paul Westwood [currently Dave 'Taif' Ball] -
she has now integrated a new colour in the form of the violinist Billy
This has consequences. The scene in the packed 'Moments. club came
alive particularly in the context of 'Thompson versus Thompson' in
which the young violinist knew well how to hold his own with the experienced
Billy Thompson can not only play his violin in the well-known sharp
Rock manner of Jerry Goodman but is also master of the Arabic metre,
of the adept yearning arpeggios of Gypsy or Balkan Jazz and the traditional
fiddle tunes of Celtic folklore.
Nor does he in any way hide his light under a bushel, he assumes the
offensive so that the leader at one time had trouble in carrying on
her ideas and completely left the field to him. An example was 'Shifting
Sands' - the title piece of the latest Barbara Thompson album. On
the CD this track runs for 19 minutes, in concert with the various
soli it was extended to a half hour opus and the violinist fully revealed
his skill in the perfect unison playing with Barbara and also in his
On consideration 'Shifting Sands' with its Arabic mutations, contrasting
metres and exciting solo escapades was the most interesting piece
of the evening. Peter Lemer's 'Blues for Something Funny' reached
similar heights in the second half.
A great evening.
from Red Lick Records:
Amigos - Gypsymania:
This little bugger is a true knockout! It's a British band whomping
out gypsy music from all over the world with an unexpected fervour
and power, not to mention brilliant virtuoso musicianship and knowledge
of the music.
fact, when I first heard this riotous no-holds barred, right-in-your-face
roller-coaster-ride of guitars, violin, accordian and double bass,
I thought they had come barreling out of Transylvania or Celejani,
Romania - they pump out absolutely knock-out performances that are
as exciting as you can get!
two guitarists simply power every tune along, soloing like crazy,
clanging out the rhythm and driving that violin player on to slash
out some truly dangerous, wild playing while the accordian player
stabs in and out of the mix adding just the right seasoning to the
whole rusty bucket of planet soup. A brilliant mix of the traditional
and modern stuff. They certainly have soaked up the influences from
the gypsy world music scene and like the musicians they love they're
not afraid to take on tunes by Rheinhardt and Grappelli, Duke Ellington,
Baden Powell and even Ron Kavana and Bob Dylan!
know people who've seen The Amigos play live and say they're dynamite
on stage - I can't believe that they can be any better than they
are on this blistering new CD.
Hear two tracks from the album -
Evening-Herald, Friday, December 7, 2001
star of gypsy jazz'
The Amigos: The Mermaid, Eggbuckland, Plymouth.
MANY members of Plymouth Jazz Club -thought it was the best gig of
the year when gypsy jazz band The Amigos played at the Mermaid last
They may be a string quartet from Wales but the jazz they played was
superb and fully appreciated by discerning jazz followers. Billy Thompson
has been Young Jazz Musician of the year on several occasions, His
violin renderings from Stomping in Decca to the frenetic finale Dark
Eyes, had the audience yelling for more as he performed everything
from trad jazz and Hungarian to Latin and gypsy styles. Contemporary
music such as Jimmy Rosenberg's Gypsymania, (written when he was 12)
and the old jazz classic Tiger Rag, were a couple of highlights in
the group's repertoire.
The line-up was slightly different from the one previously advertised,
but nevertheless, worked incredibly well. Lead guitarist Gary Phillips
sang several songs including Golden Earrings with a distinct Welsh
touch. Fellow guitarist Andy King, who first met Phillips at school
in Swansea nearly 30 years ago, played rhythm in style while Coughlan,
a new addition to the line-up, soloed on double bass.
But Billy Thompson was the undisputed ace of the evening. In him,
maestros Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli now have a young rival.
Thanks to Keith Robinson for booking such a fantastically entertaining
Let's hope to see them back again next year.
|The Glynllifon Festival:
Review from David Reid, Music and drama critic, The Cardiff Post,
South Wales Echo, Buzz Magazine & The Western mail.
& Butt - Billy Thompson & Andy Maule:
'There seems to be real personal presence in these performances
- two personal presences - three in actual fact, with bassist Dafydd
Lewis guesting with taste, aplomb and gusto on five tracks.
Billy is inclined
to much leaping, bounding and cavorting, rather like a monkey on
heat, or Paganini at a fancy dress tea dance wearing some Jimmie
Andy by contrast seems to combine a sense of the lively with the
distinctively laid back. The labyrinthine twists and turns of his
solos never appears to lose focus of harmony or melody.'
Hear two tracks from the album
seems this band can turn their hand to anything. Fronted by the
very sexy Ana Gracey, they blaze their way through every emotion,
concentrating on good old fashioned lurve of course, but telling
it like it is thanks to the powerful mix of passion and realism
in Ana's lyrics. Whether perfoming a beautiful ballad, an up-tempo
toe-tapper or a dramatic rock number, the band keeps the arrangement
tight and the performance slick, exuding an absolute love of music
while they play. And if the bewitching violinist Billy Thompson
isn't enough to enthrall the audience, then there's Ana's enchanting,
emotive voice that fascinates the crowd thanks to raw feeling and
lung-defying, flamboyant flourishes. Her lyrics too are spell-binding,
turning every day tales of love lost and found into charming vignettes
rarely heard in modern music. Add to this her powerful stage presence
and almost tang! ible energy, and it's easy to see how Ana and the
band hold the audience in the palm of their hands for the duration
of the set. With a confidence that comes from genuine talent, Ana
talks intimately between songs, teasing the crowd with tit-bits
about a track's inspiration one minute, then making them roar with
laughter the next thanks to a witty one-liner and a sexy smirk.
Definitely a talent in her own right, Ana's finally found an equally
blessed set of musicians to add real drama to her well-crafted songs.
If this really was her first performance in a year, then the possibilities
Mandie Gower (Freelance Journalist)
I sat in the Pizza on the Park venue, on Sat 3 August 2003. It became
apparent that I along with my fellow spectators were in for a rare
treat. Music with depth and feeling. Brought to us by a singer who
oozes the X-factor without even realising it. A rare treat, compared
to many ego conscious artists who try too hard. But Ana Gracey truly
mesmerised the whole audience with her style, sophistication and
pure talent. She is a rising star not to be missed-with music as
attractive diverse and beautiful as the lady herself. Her unique
style and lyrics led to a stunning evening that really did carry
you on a musical journey, complimenting her fantastic album.. Of
which I brought 3 copies afterwards. Once you see Ana Gracey, and
experience her energy and her sound, (and possibly the greatest
live band on the circuit check out violinist Billy Thompson) you
will be left as breathless and stunned as everybody in that room!!!
Well done Ana.....you rocked!!!"
Sarah Bennett (BrightonSoul) Singer/songwriter
A giraffe's heart weighs 25lb, is 2 ft long
and has walls up to 3ins thick. It's so big because it has to pump
16 gallons of blood each minute up the animal's neck. A series of
one-way valves prevents it pouring into the head and causing brain
damage when the animal bends to drink. Giraffes eat 140lb of foliage
More information about Giraffes: www.nature-wildlife.com/girtxt.htm
available to buy securely with your credit card...
well you might be able to... but not from Thompsound
A large thankyou to Arthur Williams of Bala for this rare sighting of a ridiculously rotund giraffe defying all scientific logic.
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