Im tiefen Echoraum der alten Abtei von Thoronet/Südfrankreich improvisiert die berühmte Saxophonistin melodische Linien zwischen Gregorianik und Jazz. Spuren auf dem Weg nach innen.

the project

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.

the artist

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.


1 The Fanaid Grove 3'39"
2 Nobilis, Humilis 4'44"
3 Chanterai Por Mon Coraige (I Would Be Singing for Consolation) 4'12"
4 Al Ya Zane (Oh Thou Zane) 5'07"
5 Cancion De Cuna 3'30"
6 Toriad Y Dydd (Day-break) 4'32"
7 Suspira Coracao Triste (My Heart Is Heavy With Sadness) 2'37"
8 Whereto Should I Express 3'03"
9 Estilo 3'50"
10 O My Love, How Long 3'14"
11 Winder Wie Ist No Dein Kraft (Winter, Now Your End Is Near) 4'26"
12 I Can't Say in Egypt Lan' 2'57"
13 De Ribber Ben Come Dung 4'08"
14 Down By The Sally Gardens 3'21"
  Total Time: 53'32"