(Westbrook Music WMLP 1)
Recorded: London 2-4 March1986.
Parade Of The Pierides; Terpsichore; Calliope; Polyhymnia; Euterpe; Thalia; Melpomene; Erato; Urania; Clio;
Peter Whyman (ss, as, cl); Brian Godding (g, g-synth);Mike Westbrook (p, tu); Kate Westbrook (voc, pic, ten-h).

  ALTHOUGH GAINING RESONANCE FROM ITS dramatic context, a dance performance casting the nine muses, the pierides, as participants in a pier-show, the music on this album is vibrant and energetic enough to stand on its own - indeed it is arguable that, live, the stage show's multi-layered allusiveness can overwhelm the music.

   All the trademarks of Westbrook music are here: the constant textural variety achieved through startling combinations of instruments, the abrupt emotional transitions - from grave earnestness to impishness, from melancholy to lyricism, tragedy to farce - the whole expressing serious themes with deceptive ease and lightness. A typical track, "Calliope", is at once a stirring tribute to the Greenham women: Kalliope/Small-limbed girl, gentle girl/Overcame the hounds of the camp/Who guard the weapons well... Hang on the barriers streamers and crepe"; an excellent piece of programme music evoking the epic muse; and a haunting song in its own right set against a synthesised backing of chilling grandeur.

  There is a song about titillation and fetishism, even one listing a woman's cosmetics, sung with great brio in Kate Westbrook's familiar dramatic voice. There is a lyrical saxophone solo evoking young love and a wonderfully exuberant version of "Air Mail Special".

  In short, this is another rich, challenging album from the Westbrooks, a dense, detailed canvas packed with all the colours one expects from their palette.

Chris Parker
The Wire - July 1986

K A T E ' S   D A T E

K A T E   W E S T B R O O K    appears with the LSO for the first time on 6 August in a Barbican concert entitled "Berlin Nights", devised and directed by John Harle. The first half features Kate singing Brecht-Weill's "Seven Deadly Sins" in Christopher Logue's translation; the second half features Ms. Westbrook with Phil Minton, Sue Bickley and Albert Finney in the evening's title piece.

The Wire - August 1989

T H E   W E S T B R O O K   B L A K E:
B R I G H T   A S   F I R E

Mike Westbrook
(1980 Original Records; reissued Impetus)

B R I T A I N ' S   P R E M I E R jazz composer, Mike Westbrook is best known for his ambitious big band projects(Citadel/Room 315, On Duke's Birthday) and for his music's links with poetry, theatre and cabaret, pursued chiefly through various small groups like his Brass Band and his trio, A Little Westbrook Music. The Westbrook Blake is based on settings for seven William Blake poems which Westbrook had originally composed for Adrian Mitchell's 1971 play Tyger. Though he makes full use of his two striking vocalists - wife/collaborator Kate Westbrook, longtime associate Phil Minton - and coaxes fervent performances from hornmen Chris Biscoe and Alan Wakeman, it is Westbrook's writing which ultimately illuminates Blake's verse. He finds music to match the ecstasy of "I See Thy Form" and the desolation of "London Song"; turns "A Poison Tree" into a blood-curdling tango; and fashions a magnificent anthem for "Let The Slave/The Price Of Experience", Blake's great paeans to freedom, dignity and compassion. Recorded in 1980, Bright As Fire is a stirring antidote to the spritual bleakness of the Thatcher decade.

The Wire - January 1990
(New Year supplement)

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