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The Westerlies

The Westerlies, “an arty quartet…mixing ideas from jazz, new classical, and Appalachian folk” (New York Times) are a New York-based brass quartet comprised of childhood friends from Seattle: Riley Mulherkar and Chloe Rowlands on trumpet, and Andy Clausen and Willem de Koch on trombone. Equally at home in concert halls and living rooms, The Westerlies navigate a wide array of venues and projects with the precision of a string quartet, the audacity of a rock band, and the charm of a family sing-along. Formed in 2011, the self-described “accidental brass quartet” takes its name from the prevailing winds that travel from the West to the East. “Skilled interpreters who are also adept improvisers” (NPR’s Fresh Air), The Westerlies explore jazz, roots, and chamber music influences to create the rarest of hybrids: music that is both "folk-like and composerly, lovely and intellectually rigorous” (NPR Music).

The Westerlies’ upcoming engagements include performances at Baryshnikov Arts Center, Bay Chamber Concerts, and Stave Sessions (Celebrity Series of Boston), among others. Recent performances include New Music at the Nasher, Noe Valley Chamber Music, Earshot Jazz Festival, the Norton Center for the Arts, the Moore Theatre, Shenandoah University, Purdue Convocations, the Oxford Performing Arts Center, Luther College, the Schubert Club, St. John’s University, and the University of Washington. The ensemble was also featured with Fleet Foxes at Coachella, the Hollywood Bowl, the Greek Theatre Berkeley, Red Rocks, the Newport Folk Festival, Merriweather Post Pavilion, the Santa Fe Opera, Outside Lands in San Francisco, Panorama New York City, and the Pitchfork Music Festival.

The ensemble has produced three critically acclaimed albums of genre-defying chamber music: its 2014 debut, Wish the Children Would Come On Home: The Music of Wayne Horvitz (Songlines), a 2016 double-CD of primarily original compositions, The Westerlies (Songlines), and their recent 2020 release, Wherein Lies the Good (Westerlies Records). Sought-after collaborators, The Westerlies are also featured on recordings by Fleet Foxes (Nonesuch), Vieux Farka Touré (Six Degrees Records), Common (Lakeshore) and Dave Douglas (Greenleaf).

Education and community engagement are core elements of The Westerlies' mission. The Westerlies produce an annual music festival in Seattle called Westerlies Fest, which combines evening performances featuring numerous guest artists, an all-day open-to-the-public creative music jamboree, and workshops in local public schools. The festival’s educational programming reaches over 1,000 students in Seattle and surrounding underserved areas every year. The Westerlies have engaged students of all ages and abilities around the country with their innovative assemblies and masterclasses, promoting the values of cooperation and inclusion through music. They have completed educational residencies with Clefworks (Montgomery, AL), Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival (Orcas Island, WA), the School District of Osceola County (Osceola County, Florida), and Highline Public Schools (Burien, WA), among others. They have also taught masterclasses at The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Yale School of Music, The Colburn School, and a variety of other colleges and universities.

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"How does a four-piece trumpet and trombone instrumental combo earn raves from both indie-leaning music blogs and public radio while also performing at the Newport Jazz Festival and local rock clubs? The answer can be heard in the sprawling self-titled album due Oct. 7. Over two discs the New York City-based, Seattle-born brass band occupies a lively territory between jazz, Steven Foster-styled folk and chamber music with bracing melodies and, crucially, an undeniable sense of fun. Listen to the rollicking “New Berlin, New York,” for starters." - Chris Barton, LA Times

"When New York brass quartet the The Westerlies dropped 2014’s Wish the Children Would Come Home (Songlines) they forced me to reevaluate Seattle keyboardist Wayne Horvitz as a composer. The readings trumpeters Riley Mulherkar and Zubin Hensler and trombonists Andy Clausen and Willem de Koch give to the music of their old teacher are extraordinary, and while I praised the group’s stunning technical abilities, rich timbre, and strong arrangements then, their dazzling new eponymous double CD indicates they deserve even more credit. Aside from interpretations of Charles Ives’s “Songs My Mother Taught Me” and Duke Ellington’s “Where’s the Music?”—as well as an arrangement of the folk tune “Saro” by Sam Amidon and Nico Muhly—the members composed the material, and it’s all knocked me on my ass. There’s no extensive improvisation on these gorgeous pieces, though when they do solo, the players display rigor and a level of execution on par with classic brass ensembles (Mulherkar’s solo on “Where’s the Music?” brings to mind the splendor of Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy at its best). The original repertoire is so strong and varied that the Westerlies represent a kind of bastard child, standing fiercely between genre cracks with works that evoke the Americana of Aaron Copland and John Philip Sousa on the one hand but seeming to translate the rhythmically spastic machinations of EDM on the other (check out “So So Shy”). There are plenty of other stops in between, all delivered with stunning clarity and richness." — Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader

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Bill Frisell
guitar, electric
Wayne Horvitz
keyboards
Ron Miles
cornet
Sam Amidon
guitar

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Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Wherein Lies the Good

Self Produced
2020

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The Westerlies

Songlines Recordings
2016

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Wish the Children...

Songlines Recordings
2015

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