Part One The Front Page1 Freedom’s Crown 2.27 (Sonnet for Stephen) Mike Westbrook/Kate Westbrook
2 Propositions 5.49 Mike Westbrook/Kate Westbrook
3 Because 3.57 Lennon/McCartney
4 The Triumphant Entry 2.38 Mike Westbrook/D.H.Lawrence (from “the Ass”)
5 A Flower is Lovesome Thing 2.54 Billy Strayhorn
Part Two Bar-Room Piano6 Sophisticated Lady 2.47 Duke Ellington
7 Gaudy Bar 2.34 Mike Westbrook/Kate Westbrook
8 Solitude 2.28 Duke Ellington
Part Three Love Stories
9 Nähe des Geliebten 2.52 Mike Westbrook/J.W. von Goethe
10 View From The Drawbridge 10.08 Mike Westbrook
11 Tender Love 1.36 Mike Westbrook
12 You Make Me Feel Brand New 5.03 Thom Bell/Linda Creed
13 A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square 4.26 Eric Maschwitz/Manning Sherman
14 The Sound of Caress 2.07 Mike Westbrook/Kate Westbrook
15 She Loves You 4.02 Lennon/McCartney
Part Four The Blues
16 My Lover’s Coat 2.50 Mike Westbrook/Kate Westbrook
17 D.T.T.M. 2.59 (Danilo Terenzi, Tony Marsh)
18 Good Old Wagon 1.28 Bessie Smith
19 Blues For Terenzi 2.49 Mike Westbrook
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20 If Thou Must Love Me 1.00 Mike Westbrook/Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Mike Westbrook piano
In concert at 19 rue Paul Fort, 75014 PARIS, 19th and 20th July 2016.
Presented by Helene Aziza
recorded by Jon Hiseman
Programme Note on the PARIS page.
Recorded live in Paris last year after his 80th birthday, this solo piano set finds Mike Westbrook reflecting on a lifetime’s work as a composer. As well as instrumental jazz, this has included everything from music-theatre to brass bands, mostly written in collaboration with his wife, Kate. Themes from some of these, such as Citadel/Room 315, The Ass and Paintbox Jane, appear among 20 short pieces, along with favourites by Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith and others. Westbrook’s style is an engaging mixture of warmth and dissonance, spiced by a touch of honky-tonk. With its constantly changing moods and familiar melodies cunningly revealed, an hour’s music seems to pass in half the time. Dave Gelly - Observer * * * *
In what seems like another life, this correspondent asked Mike if he felt he'd underpresented his piano-playing on recordings, and here's the answer: an hour of solo piano that is fresh, rich and improvised, yet references a myriad of the master's many previous musical lives. Recorded live over two nights in the intimacy of a Parisian art gallery by long-time collaborator Jon Hiseman, the songs seem to segue seemlessly into each other, in a gorgeous free-associative swirl.
But the album is actually subtly divided into four - 'The Front Page', 'Bar Room Piano', 'Love Stories' and 'The Blues'. Through each cluster of songs, Westbrook nests together his loves, heroes and inspirations, the man and his music, the music and the man as one. So we actualy start with two songs from this year's big band apocalypse, A Bigger Show, but there's also material from his theatre work, there's quotes from his paeans to Ellington ('Sophisticated Lady', 'Solitude') and The Beatles ('Because', 'She Loves You') and work devised with his muse, Kate ('Gaudy Bar', 'My Lover's Coat'), and splendid surprises like 'You Make Me Feel Brand New'. But it's all really one big love song, to music, to life: the show, indeed, does go on. Andy Robson - Jazzwise/Gramophone
This intimate unaccompanied piano recording, made in a friend’s Paris art gallery, reveals Mike Westbrook at his composerly best, laying bare his influences and roaming through his past.
The 20-track programme is organised into four sections, ending with “The Blues”, and includes covers of Ellington, Bessie Smith and The Beatles - “She Loves You” is one of ten unsentimental “Love Stories”.
Westbrook’s sparse, harmonically rich and firmly rhythmic approach grips throughout, undulating thoughtfully through lush chords, warm ripples and gently discordant fragments to create a set of exquisite miniatures. Mike Hobart - Financial Times * * * *
Somewhat like his idol Duke Ellington, Westbrook's work with large ensembles has been so successful (critically and artistically if not commercially) that his piano playing gets less attention than it deserves. His last album and tour was with the 21-piece Uncommon Orchestra. Shortly after that daunting logistical enterprise ended he visited the other end of the spectrum with this solo recording.
There's a predominantly melancholic, or at least contemplative, cast to the set, which interperses original pieces by Westbrook and his wife and artistic partner Kate with tunes by Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Lennon-McCartney, Bessie Smith and two familiar gems rendered from the Great American Songbook. Some are so thoroughly yet sensitively transformed that you'd hardly guess they weren't devised there and then specifically for this cohesive recital. Westbrook's playing is intimate, restrained, reflective, introspective and deceptively simple, moulding 20 disparate sources into a beautiful and beguiling whole. Barry Witherden - BBC Music Magazine * * * *
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