Saturday 02 December 2023
The new MIKE WESTBROOK BAND of BANDS
brings together key musicians from Mike and Kate Westbrook’s many small-scale projects. Joining the Trio of Kate, Mike, and saxophonist Chris Biscoe are four long-time alumni - accordionist Karen Street, saxophonist/ clarinettist Pete Whyman, Marcus Vergette on bass and Coach York on drums.
Formed in 1982 the Trio is the longest established and most widely travelled of all Mike’s ensembles. The group’s mix of composition, song and improvisation has been at the heart of many Westbrook projects, from the seminal Brass Band of the ‘70s to the current Uncommon Orchestra.
The unique repertoire around which the performance of the Band of Bands is based, has been shaped by the experience of touring and of collaborating with artists in many countries. There are re-creations of Westbrook classics alongside new compositions, and arrangements of some lesser-known standards, all interpreted by some of the UK’s most original and distinctive soloists.
Kate Westbrook – “one of the most unique, expressive, and flexible voices one could find between the Atlantic and the Urals”- Jazz Magazine (France)
Mike Westbrook - “whether he is writing for a trio or a 20-piece orchestra, Westbrook's style is unmistakable. He combines instruments in unique ways, twists conventional jazz forms into surprising new shapes and seasons it all with delicate touches of humour and irony” -The Observer
Chris Biscoe - “he’s made the territory between post-bop and free-jazz entirely his own, deploying his arsenal of bent tones, slithering runs and bluesy multiphonics” - The Guardian
Karen Street - “the accordion of the remarkable Karen Street transfixed the audience with a long unaccompanied improvisation… the most astonishing single piece of playing I’ve heard this year” - The Blue Moment
Pete Whyman - “a fine virtuoso. The level of technical certainty was awesome” -The Guardian
Marcus Vergette - “musician, bell-maker, sculptor, Marcus was born on the banks of the Mississippi River in Southern Illinois. He is a bass player renowned for his Mingus-influenced prowess” - Paintbox
Coach York - “...powerhouse kit work - very hard, granular, crystalline and totally rock solid” - London Jazz
Mike Westbrook has led and composed for a succession of big bands and small groups since the 1960s. His compositions range from large-scale works such as The Cortège and London Bridge is Broken Down to stage musicals, jazz cabaret, opera and experimental theatre, and pieces for radio, TV, and cinema. He has toured world-wide and made over fifty albums, among them Citadel/Room 315, featuring John Surman, Glad Day, settings of William Blake and On Duke’s Birthday, dedicated to Duke Ellington. His Big Band Rossini was the first jazz work ever to be featured in the BBC Proms.
Theatre work includes Adrian Mitchell's Tyger, staged by the National Theatre in 1971. Television music credits include the award-winning BBC drama Caught on a Train. His opera Coming Through Slaughter, about the New Orleans cornettist Buddy Bolden, was based on the novel by Michael Ondaatje. Concert works combining jazz and classical ensembles include Chanson Irresponsable with the New Westbrook Orchestra, Classical Blues 2002 for the BBC Concert Orchestra and a saxophone concerto for John Harle and the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, Bean Rows and Blues Shots.
Collaborations with Kate Westbrook include the one-woman opera Cape Gloss, Turner in Uri, inspired by JMW Turner’s travels in the Alps and Paintbox Jane about the painter Dufy. Their jazz cabaret Mama Chicago won the Edinburgh Fringe Award in in 1978 and began a whole series of music theatre shows, notably Art Wolf, dedicated to the 18th century Swiss painter Caspar Wolf, The Serpent Hit, a political fable, the song cycle Fine ’n Yellow and their epic jazz rock oratorio, A Bigger Show with The Uncommon Orchestra. Recent albums include Kate’s GRANITE, inspired by Dartmoor, and also with her Granite Band, Earth Felt The Wound, about threats to the environment.
2022 saw the 40th anniversary of the Westbrook Trio, with saxophonist Chris Biscoe. This forms the basis of a new seven-piece group, the Band of Bands. Mike Westbrook currently performs The Westbrook Blake, with vocalists Phil Minton and Kate Westbrook, and, with the Uncommon Orchestra, On Duke’s Birthday and Rossini Re-Loaded. Two major retrospective albums have recently been released, London Bridge Live in Zurich 1990 and CATANIA, recorded at a Mike Westbrook Music Festival in Sicily in 1992. He has released three solo piano albums, Paris, Starcross Bridge and The Piano and Me.
“Mike Westbrook is one of the Britain’s most creative, experimental and daring jazz composers” – The Times
"With this immensely powerful work (London Bridge is Broken Down) Westbrook reinstates his claim to international pre-eminence among the heirs of Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus" - The Times
"Britain's most innovative Big Band leader" - The Wire
"Mike Westbrook puts an Exhilarating contemporary spin on the big band tradition. The surging excitement of an ensemble in in full cry is seldom far away, even on Measure to Measure, Kate Westbrook's Shakespearean adaptation that uses words in ways undreamt of during the heyday of Big Band vocalists" - The Guardian
"In Westbrook, big band music has an historically aware champion who can keep the genre moving forward with wit and style" - The Scotsman
Mike Westbrook – piano
Kate Westbrook – voice
Chris Biscoe - saxophone
Karen Street – accordion
Pete Whyman – saxophone
Marcus Vergette – double bass
Coach York – drums
Nowy zespół MIKE WESTBROOK'A - BAND OF BANDS! zrzesza kluczowych muzyków z wielu małych projektów Mike'a i Kate Westbrook. Do Trio składającego się z Kate, Mike'a i saksofonisty Chrisa Biscoe dołącza czterech długoletnich absolwentów - akordeonistka Karen Street, saksofonista/klarnecista Pete Whyman, Marcus Vergette na basie i Coach York na perkusji!
Unikalny repertuar, wokół którego opiera się występy zespołu, został ukształtowany przez doświadczenia z tras koncertowych i współpracy z artystami z wielu krajów. Znajdują się tu rekonstrukcje klasyków Westbrook'a, a także nowe kompozycje i aranżacje mniej znanych standardów, a wszystko to zinterpretowane przez najbardziej oryginalnych i charakterystycznych brytyjskich solistów!
„Mike Westbrook to jeden z najbardziej kreatywnych, eksperymentalnych i odważnych kompozytorów jazzowych w Wielkiej Brytanii” – The Times
„Najbardziej innowacyjny lider Big Bandu w Wielkiej Brytanii” – The Wire
„W Westbrooku muzyka big bandowa ma historycznie świadomego mistrza, który może popchnąć gatunek do przodu dzięki dowcipowi i stylowi” – The Scotsman