Kate and Mike Westbrook
NEWS: A BIGGER SHOW ON THE ROAD & CD
A double album of A Bigger Show by Mike Westbrook & Company, aka ‘the Uncommon Orchestra’, was recorded live at the Barnfield Theatre, Exeter on July 30th 2015, by Jon Hiseman and Miles Ashton, and is available now on ASC Records. With roots in traditional public festivals dating from mediaeval times, A Bigger Show presents an electronic fairground for the Age of the World‐Wide‐Web.
A Bigger Show has been described as a Jazz/Rock Oratorio. Kate Westbrook’s scenario uses the image of the fairground to examine, with irony, humour and high drama, the lot of Humankind in the age of the World-Wide-Web. Mike Westbrook’s score for 21-piece ensemble involves 3 vocalists/actors, acoustic brass and saxophones, electronics and a double rhythm section. Kate Westbrook and fellow vocalists Martine Waltier and Billy Bottle are joined by established Jazz musicians together with lesser known artists, Pop and Rock musicians, Classical players and talented youngsters in a new kind of big band – the Uncommon Orchestra. Featured soloists include saxophonists Roz Harding and Alan Wakeman, Dave Holdsworth on sousaphone and pocket trumpet, guitarists Jesse Molins and Matthew North, Marcus Vergette on bass, and Coach York on drums.
Kate Westbrook & Martine Waltier voices | Billy Bottle voice & bass guitar | Sarah Dean alto saxophone and clarinet, Roz Harding alto saxophone | Alan Wakeman tenor & soprano saxophones, Gary Bayley tenor saxophone | Ian Wellens baritone saxophone | Mike Brewer & Sam Massey trumpets & flugelhorns, Dave Holdsworth sousaphone & pocket trumpet | Stewart Stunell, Andy Dore & Joe Carnell trombones | Ken Cassidy bass trombone | Jesse Molins & Matthew North guitars | Marcus Vergette bass | Coach York & Theo Goss drums | Mike Westbrook keyboard | Tim Goodwin dramaturge
"A roaring ensemble, orchestrated by a master of the art." Listomania Bath
"...a fitting statement of Mike Westbrook’s unique career to date and confirmation of his status as one of the greatest jazz composers this country has ever produced." Bristol247
"What a splendid rumpus...Shows don’t come much bigger." The Scotsman
"...music that is by turns exciting, thoughtful and thought-provoking. Let's hope it really is “the show that never ends”!" Patrick Hadfield LondonJazzNews
Kate Westbrook was born in Britain but spent much of her childhood in the USA and Canada. Educated at Dartington Hall School, in Devon. Kate went on to study Fine Art at Bath Academy of Art, Corsham, and at Reading University, before returning to live and work on the East and West coasts of America, and travelling in Mexico. Kate has toured widely throughout Europe, and as far afield as Canada, Australia and the Far East. She has broadcast on radio and TV and has recorded more than 20 albums. Her vocal range embraces Contemporary Music, Opera, Music Hall, as well as Jazz and Popular Song. (photo: joss reiver bany)
Kate Westbook Reviews
"Michael Finnissy's 'TheTransgressive Gospel' The emotional heart of the piece is in the three settings of sacred poems by George Herbert, sung by Kate Westbrook with a combination of deep feeling and jazzy intimacy that was more moving than any impassioned outcry." Ivan Hewitt Daily Telgraph
"Once again, one was struck by the unique talent and incisive charm of the singer. Singer? Hardly word enough to describe an entertainer musician who knows as no-one else how to change words into notes, an all-round comedienne who uses her voice infallibly with a poetic sense of the dramatic, a multi-lingual singer (she is equally at home singing in French, German and Italian as well as English) who takes the stage with a radiant ease, much grace, humour and sensuality in all aspects of song. The exquisite Kate..." Pascai Anquetil Monde De La Musique
Kate Westbrook on Film
Yellow Fig Leaf from the ASC album Fine'n'Yellow
Mike Westbrook grew up in Torquay and was educated at Kelly College, Tavistock. He formed his first band in Plymouth in 1958, moving to London in the early 1960s, and has since led, and composed for, a succession of big bands and small groups. He has toured extensively throughout Europe, and as far afield as Australia and the Far East, Canada and New York, and has directed performances of his work with big bands in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, France, Italy, Slovenia and Switzerland. Mike has broadcast on radio and TV in many countries, and made 50 albums; he was awarded an OBE in 1988. (photo: joss reiver bany)
Mike Westbrook Reviews
"Mike Westbrook is one of Britain's most creative, experimental and daring jazz composers." The Times
"Britain's most innovative Big Band leader."The Wire
"As his career amply demonstrates, - he has produced a body of work embracing everything from opera through settings of Kate Westbrook's song cycles, to jazz suites and cabaret, - he is luckily for all lovers of innovative and original music, thoroughly committed to maintaining his reputation as the UK's foremost jazz composer." The Times
Mike Westbrook Solo on ASC Records
ASC CD166 Paris (£10) Mike Westbrook solo piano
"You will need to look far indeed to find a more lovely jazz record this year." Duncan Heining, all about jazz
"...an hour of solo piano that is fresh, rich and improvised...the songs seem to segue seamlessly into each other, in a glorious free associative swirl." Andy Robson, Jazzwise.
Mike's first solo piano album in almost 40 years was recorded live by Jon Hiseman in July 2016 at Hélène Aziza’s Paris art gallery and music venue, 19 rue Paul Fort in the 14th arrondissement of the city.
In his 80th year, in an hour-long set, Mike Westbrook improvises themes from his own musical history, from his 1970s composition 'Citadel/Room 315' through to 'A Bigger Show' and his recent 'Paintbox Jane'. There are references to his Ellington tribute Duke's Birthday, to 'London Bridge is Broken Down', to his music theatre piece 'The Ass', and to his Beatles project 'Off Abbey Road'. The sequence contains songs written in collaboration with his wife, the artist, vocalist and librettist Kate Westbrook, along with popular songs, jazz classics and blues.
See Mike perform his own composition D.T.T.M. here:
Kate and Mike Westbrook on ASC Records the Songbook Collection
Kate Westbrook voice | Mike Westbrook piano | Chris Biscoe alto and soprano saxophones, alto clarinet |
Pete Whyman alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet, bass clarinet | Steve Berry double bass |
Jon Hiseman drums
Dedicated to the memory of Margery and John Styles
“Mike Westbrook is opening new vistas in his writing”
Franpi Barriaux, Citizen Jazz
“Chris Biscoe is marvellous on saxophone. Mike’s sparse piano playing, Ellingtonian and Monkish at the same time, is a beautiful mount for Kate’s dark voice, which is as extraordinary as ever. An amazing piece of work.” Pierre-Henri Ardonceau, Jazz Magazine
“Kate Westrook’s lyrics have been enriching partner Mike’s music since the 1970s, most recently with the Art Wolf project, but here I think she has surpassed herself. This is the Westbrook’s best release in a while – and that says a lot” Duncan Heining, Jazzwise
Kate Westbrook voice | Mike Westbrook piano
Selected songs recorded between 1991 and 2009 by Jon Hiseman at Temple Music Studios.
"As anyone who caught their superb September 2008 Vortex performance (part of the ASC piano festival) will already know, a duo gig by Mike and Kate Westbrook is a rare treat, intimate, intensely personal, and wide-ranging (taking in material from the theatre and film worlds as well as standards, original songs and settings of European poetry). Allsorts succeeds courtesy not only of Kate Westbrook's consistently intelligent approach to a lyric (adopting what amounts to a dramatic persona where appropriate, as in 'Limehouse Blues' or the grippingly acerbic 'Pirate Jenny', rendering the straight-from-the-heart sincerity of 'September Song' or 'You'd Be So NiceTo Come Home To' all the more touching), but also of Mike Westbrook's subtle, perfectly judged but robust piano playing. A fine memento not only of a great live act, but also of a wonderfully fruitful, long-lasting collaboration between two highly original artists and a sympathetic and sensitive studio." Chris Parker, VORTEX.
Kate Westbrook voice | Mike Westbrook piano
Love Or Infatuation / Awake in a Dream / Falling in Love Again / You've Got That Look / You Leave Me Breathless / This is The Moment / The Moon's Our Home / Love Or Infatuation / The Boys in the Backroom
A jazz cabaret based on on the Hollywood songs of Friedrich Hollaender
devised and performed by the Kate Westbrook/Mike Westbrook Duo.
First performed as part of a tribute to Hollaender's music at the Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn, 1996.