The Westbrooks in their usual neat order


FOR THEIR LATEST jazz entertainment, Kate and Mike Westbrook have drawn on themes from the ever-popular operas of Rossini. A new group will embark on a extensive European tour and will record a live double LP at the Zürich festival, to be released by hat ART next year.

the full list of gigs is: Prague Festival (26 Oct), Paris Festival (31), Montpellier Theatre (5 Nov), Montlucon (6), Bourges (7), Mulhouse (8), Zürich Festival (9), Frankfurt (13), Strasbourg (14), Albi (18), Bordeaux (20 & 22) .

The Wire, Issue 33, November 1986

Mike Westbrook's Pier Rides


  IN THE MIDDLE OF A splendid month at the Clef - George Coleman shouldering aside the shackles of a hard bop upbringing, Eherhard Weber making his bass sing and Didier Lockwood conjuring high dervish dances from the violin - the Westbrooks worked through their Pier Rides music with a determination and spirit one is tempted to call severe. This must be some of the darkest music Mike's worked on since "Marching song", and without the dance element all the harshest tones were thrown into unforgiving relief.

  Aside from the more jovial march tunes that open and close the suite, the camp touches that Westbrook exploits elsewhere have no place place in this work. Kate Westbrook puts her strangled high voice to chilling use and her sombre lower one to magnify the apprehension in the writing. Brian Godding's guitar is a splinter of controlled violence; Peter Whyman contributes a twisted virtuoso spiral on alto and soprano. The formality of the settings serves to concentrate the attention: nothing's wasted by this spare line-up.

  There were lyrical moments in the performance, which actually went on a little too long; mostly, it was hard music of complicated emotions, as in the moments when - over a crushing vamp set up on a drum machine - the players brutalized the themes. Purgatorial, but not disagreeable, this was the Westbrook operation at its most direct and challenging.

Richard Cook

The Wire, Issue 33, November 1986

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