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Mike Westbrook Orchestra: Catania

Read "Catania" reviewed by Ian Patterson

A major figure in British jazz since the late 1950s, composer-pianist Mike Westbrook continues to write, perform and record at a rate of knots which would leave contenders half his 83 years on the ropes. Four albums since 2016, including--after a gap of forty years—not one but two solo piano recordings, are testament to the creative fire that continues to burn inside him. This previously-unreleased live recording from Sicily in 1992, captures the twenty-three-piece Mike Westbrook Orchestra in truly scintillating ...

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Mike Westbrook Concert Band: The Last Night At The Old Place

Read "The Last Night At The Old Place" reviewed by Roger Farbey

This live recording which took place on 25th May 1968, celebrated the last night at Ronnie Scott's Club in London's Gerrard Street. Scott and his business partner Pete King moved the club in 1965 to its current location in Frith Street, but as the lease had a couple of years left to run they generously handed it over to younger musicians to run it as a temporary venue. The “Old Place," as it became known, finally closed in 1968. So ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Mike Westbrook at Bury St. Edmunds Festival

Read "Mike Westbrook at Bury St. Edmunds Festival" reviewed by Duncan Heining

Mike Westbrook and Kate Westbrook Bury St. Edmunds Festival The Church of St. John the Evangelist May 19, 2017 Of all his many achievements, Mike Westbrook's The Westbrook Blake is one of his finest. Few works in jazz have combined music and text, voices and instrumentation, to such profound effect. The settings here of William Blake's prophetic and yet earthly revelations -by Kate Westbrook and the late British poet and revolutionary Adrian Mitchell -have a ...

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Mike Westbrook: Live 1972

Read "Live 1972" reviewed by Roger Farbey

Mike Westbrook Live 1972 captures a fleeting snapshot of the transitional group Westbrook assembled in between hisMetropolis era big band and the jazz rock venture Solid Gold Cadillac featuring Phil Minton's irrepressible vocals. This quintet lasted only a few weeks but the line-up boasted Gary Boyle, guitarist of the legendary band Isotope. Also, George Khan on tenor saxophone and drummer Alan Jackson both stalwarts of Westbrook's previous ensembles were present along with newcomer Roger 'Butch' Potter on bass guitar, who ...

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Mike Westbrook: Paris

Read "Paris" reviewed by Duncan Heining

Listen to any number of Mike Westbrook records and you might want to ask, “Why doesn't he take a solo?" Aside from the occasional piano cadenza, Westbrook seems to prefer to let his compositions do the talking, ably aided by trustworthy musical confederates. Westbrook celebrated his 80th birthday in March 2016 and Paris is a perfect way of acknowledging that noble event. Produced and recorded live by Jon Hiseman, the album is a feast for the ears. Hiseman ...

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Mike Westbrook & Company: A Bigger Show - Live

Read "A Bigger Show - Live" reviewed by Duncan Heining

For the last few years, pianist-composer Mike Westbrook has been leading a very fine big band down in Devon but this is the first time they have made it on to CD. In fact, this is an expanded ensemble with three vocalists, two bass players, two guitarists and two drummers. The clue is in the title, this truly is A Bigger Show with the emphasis on the word “show." Some people have never got what the Westbrooks have been up ...

PROFILES

Mike Westbrook: Art Wolf at 75

Read "Mike Westbrook: Art Wolf at 75" reviewed by Duncan Heining

Close your eyes for a moment. Imagine a jazz composer who began with Ellington and then moved on through Mingus. He soon encompassed rock music, Kurt Weill, Rossini, the traditions of English church music and the pastoralism of Vaughan Williams and Holst, but still found a place in his music for The Beatles, European political cabaret and The Great American Songbook. And what if his inspirations ranged from painters like Paul Nash, Caspar Wolf and J.M.W. Turner ...

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Mike Westbrook Orchestra: The Cortege

Read "The Cortege" reviewed by Chris May

At its richest, pianist/composer Mike Westbrook's work is to jazz what grand opera, in the classical world, is to chamber music. The Cortege is Westbrook at his richest, leading a 17-piece orchestra through an ambitious and brilliantly realized suite, loosely themed around the idea of a funeral procession and its after-party. Thirty years after its first release on Original Records, The Cortege remains one of finest achievements of British orchestral jazz, and has been reissued as a two-CD set to ...

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Mike Westbrook: Westbrook-Rossini

Read "Westbrook-Rossini" reviewed by Chris May

Whether you believe that opera is the loftiest manifestation of lyric art, or a bastard tradition typified by mannered singing, indifferent acting and an audience that would have Robespierre rubbing his hands in glee, there's no doubt that it has some great tunes. British composer and pianist/tuba player Mike Westbrook gathered a few of them together in the mid 1980s for this Rossini project.

Westbrook-Rossini grew out of a commission Westbrook received from a Swiss street-theatre company in ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Mike Westbrook Orchestra: On Duke's Birthday

Read "On Duke's Birthday" reviewed by Chris May

Among the most characterful and singular British composer/bandleaders, Mike Westbrook is revered by the relative few who follow his music, but is woefully under-appreciated in the wider jazz world. In part, this is because Westbrook paints on a larger canvas than that used in most “conventional" orchestral jazz, frequently taking on projects with textural themes or dramaturgical production values. In part, it's because he is politically engaged and, starting with the early anti-war masterpieces Release (Deram, 1968) and Marching Song ...


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