FALL and annihilation and it is the serpent in the Westbrook script, not Jesus, who sings out the challenge - "Let one who is without sin throw the first stone."
An antithesis in the form of jazz cabaret of song and poetry out loud, of ensemble and solo horns, of splattering drums.
This is The Serpent Hit. The wanton plunder of "innocent pleasure" as a merry-go-round is vandalised; the spoliation of the environment in a marine whirlpool full of barbs and shards; the devastation of the Earth itself with the trigger of the final bomb - such is the impact of this serpent's tale rising from Bible and myth, told by Mike Westbrook's music and Kate Westbrook's words with four saxophones and a drumset, and there is no paradise regained here, only some scintillating sounds and the human endgame.
Kate's voice - a tone and projection like no other, sharp-edged and cutting, carping and sometimes tender, full of warning, always ambivalent.
Listen to the opener Who Threw That Stone? And the horns respond, Andy Tweed's soprano saxophone, Chris Caldwell's choric baritone saxophone, "was it he, or she, was it they?"
There is no answer beyond the jarring pronouns, until the serpent rips the words from Christ.
The second track Lob gives a mercantile answer to the question about the ruination of art as smashed glass is thrown at the Potter's wheel.
Who kills culture, and you think, is it the likes of Simon Cowell and his satraps? "Will the market go down or go high?/Dealer buys, gets the lot-/Let one who hates creation lob the first glass."
Simon Pearson's bouncing drums jump to begin Hurl and Chris Biscoe's springing alto blows an obbligato to Kate's story of the jagged shrapnel-like shards and stabbing fragments that bring death to the world's seas.
It is the leviathan of indifference and insensitivity that provokes the first barbs to be hurled in defiance of nature.
The next track is Pitch, an instrumental where the horns in ensemble replace the words before Biscoe's alto breaks out and Caldwell's baritone surges with deep indignant power.
Yet Tweed's soprano is almost birdlike and Pearson's drums throb and resonate before they fade into a menacing silence.
Trigger is about the exploding of the final bomb on this beloved "sacred Earth, holy world, dancing Earth," its fear and revulsion a constant theme of the Westbrooks' generation.
Caldwell blows another pumping chorus and Kate's voice sounds agonised, unleashed, shocked by her own repugnant words as the mock-epic morphs to the anti-epic.
A sonic desert spreads across the beginning of the suite's coda, called Strike, and the dying away of the world, where "planet Earth is dust/Tremble oh stars!"
Kate sings this while the other planets dance and Neptune goes "bebop" while only one "bourgeois fleshy couple" fly to a new world to delve another garden and repeat the events of another epic meeting with the serpent.
And as the horns prime up for the repeated Fall around Karen Sweet's sustaining tenor saxophone, the fruit is offered and taken.
There are few now-times artistic achievements and messaging that can be com-pared to the mythic audacity of The Serpent Hit.
There are prevailing reminders of Blake - with Ellington the Westbrooks' great inspiration - and Kurt Weill, with many moments when it is easier to think of Milton than any contemporary comparison -not the conventional reference points of jazz. But outrageous surprise was always a Westbrook trait, and that, mixed with brilliance, pours from this music.
Chris Searle – Morning Star