Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

341

Mike Westbrook: Westbrook-Rossini

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
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 1984. The brief called for a band which could provide musical interludes for a play about the Swiss national hero, William Tell—a perambulatory band that could make itself heard in the open air, which explains the unusual seven-piece instrumentation including a sopranino saxophone, two tubas and (in the original line-up) no piano.



At the suggestion of his singer/wife Kate, Westbrook listened to the 19th century Italian composer, Gioacchino Rossini's opera "William Tell," which went on to provide the source material for the commission. As Westbrook's enthusiasm for Rossini's music grew, so did the scope of the project, and an expanded version of the original theatre commission, including pieces from Rossini's "The Barber of Seville," "The Thieving Magpie" and "Otello," was performed at Zurich Jazz Festival in 1987 (and subsequently released on a double LP). A studio version was released on CD in 1988, and Westbrook-Rossini is a re-issue of that session.



It's a playful, mellifluous affair in which Westbrook celebrates some of Rossini's best known tunes (even non-opera buffs will recognize most of them), refracted through his own singular, multifaceted, musical prism. Grand opera aside, the suite draws from post-Duke Ellington orchestral jazz, jazz-rock, free improv, Maghrebi folk music, tango and (slightly drunken) Ruritanian marches. Even the Lone Ranger is acknowledged in the full-tilt reading of the "galloping theme" from "William Tell," hinted at briefly in "William Tell Overture IV" and then embraced with abandon on the disc's closing track, "William Tell Overture V."



Instrumentally, the emphasis is on richly harmonised ensemble work driven by Peter Fairclough's powerful, Sonny Greer going on Ginger Baker drums, but there are several fine solos from Lindsay Cooper on sopranino saxophone, Peter Whyman on alto saxophone and Paul Nieman on trombone. Kate Westbrook sings on three tracks—"L'amoroso E Sincero Lindoro," "Isuara" and "Tutto Cangia"—on which Mike switches from tuba to piano. Her performances, which are by turns respectful of the Italian opera tradition and subversive of it, are wonderful and stirring, highlights of the album.



Westbrook-Rossini might not make an opera fan of you...but then again, stranger things have happened.


Track Listing: William Tell Overture 11; William Tell Overture 111; The Thieving Magpie Overture; L'amoroso E Sincero Lindoro; William Tell Overture 1V; The Barber of Seville Overture; Thievish Magpie; William Tell Overture 1; Si Cinge Il Pro'guerriero; Issura; Tutto Cangia; WIlliam Tell Overture V.

Personnel: Lindsay Cooper: sopranino saxophone; Peter Whyman: alto saxophone; Kate Westbrook: piccolo, tenor horn,voice (4, 10, 11); Paul Nieman: trombone; Andy Grappy: tuba; Mike Westbrook: piano and tuba; Peter Fairclough: drums.

Title: Westbrook-Rossini | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Hat Hut Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Best of / Year End
CD/LP/Track Review
Profiles
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
The Last Night At The Old Place

The Last Night At The...

Cadillac Records
2018

buy
Live 1972

Live 1972

Hux Records
2017

buy
Paris

Paris

ASC Records
2016

buy
The Cortege

The Cortege

Enja Records
2011

buy
Mama Chicago - A Jazz Cabaret

Mama Chicago - A Jazz...

Gonzo Multimedia
2010

buy

Related Articles

Read Drum Solos For Dancers Only CD/LP/Track Review
Drum Solos For Dancers Only
by David A. Orthmann
Published: December 18, 2018
Read Kikoeru - Tribute to Masaya Kimura CD/LP/Track Review
Kikoeru - Tribute to Masaya Kimura
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 18, 2018
Read His Flight's At Ten CD/LP/Track Review
His Flight's At Ten
by John Sharpe
Published: December 18, 2018
Read First Lines CD/LP/Track Review
First Lines
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 18, 2018
Read Live At Cafe Amores CD/LP/Track Review
Live At Cafe Amores
by John Sharpe
Published: December 18, 2018
Read The Tale CD/LP/Track Review
The Tale
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 17, 2018
Read "Spell" CD/LP/Track Review Spell
by Jim Worsley
Published: April 15, 2018
Read "Circumstances" CD/LP/Track Review Circumstances
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 5, 2018
Read "Light in the Ring: The Ali Suite" CD/LP/Track Review Light in the Ring: The Ali Suite
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: June 7, 2018
Read "The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Wrath" CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Wrath
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 6, 2018
Read "Starebaby" CD/LP/Track Review Starebaby
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 6, 2018
Read "Wild Red Yellow" CD/LP/Track Review Wild Red Yellow
by John Sharpe
Published: July 4, 2018