Smith's Academy Notice Board
19 A Special Brew
May 2019 Posts
Remembering John and Margery Styles, founder members of Smith’s Academy.
27 May 2019
16 May 2019
Kate Westbrook and the Granite Band
Kings Place, London
by Francisco Macias
Entrance to Hall 2, Kings Place
The London premiere of Kate Westbrook's latest album, 'Granite', was an occasion we should not miss, nor did we want to. The concert took place on May 16th in Hall Two of King's Place, a venue with good acoustics, which is essential to do justice to the magnificent band that gathered there. A small 'Uncommon Orchestra' comprising guitarists Matthew North and Jesse Molins, Roz Harding on saxophone, Billie Bottle on bass and vocals, drummer Coach York and, naturally, Mike and Kate Westbrook on piano and vocals.
Kate and Mike Westbrook, Kings Place 16 May 2019. photo: Gemma Janman
The performance consisted of the interpretation of the album in its entirety and was divided into two acts, with a twenty-minute break. As soon as we heard the first few notes, we realised it was going to be a very different experience from listening to the record at home. The music Mike Westbrook has composed for this soliloquy dedicated to the granite landscapes of Dartmoor is characterised by its great depth, and not only did the septet do it justice with the performance, but it also increased our perception of being in the presence of truly free music, one that has room for jazz, rock, cabaret and Music Hall, a touch of Rock in Opposition, free jazz...
Guitar player Matthew North, responsible for creating real soundscapes in pieces like 'Tracks of Desire' or 'Rain-Soaked Summer', and to make us enjoy with powerful riffs such as the one in 'Year's Rotation', stood at the left side of the stage. Next to him, Coach York would go from a slow and deliberate, elegant playing, to instantly speed up and infuse great intensity to the music, always accompanied by Billie Bottle, whose bass lines are really catchy and who also treated us to some nice solos, like in 'Architects and Pornographers'. At the right side of the stage, there stood Roz Harding, brilliant on both alto and soprano saxes, and guitarist Jesse Molins, with a style closer to jazz rock and who performed several fantastic solos, like in 'Rain-Soaked Summer'. In the middle, Mike on piano and Kate singing magnificently. They provided us with the most intimate moments of the night, namely 'Spread-Eagle' or 'Curlew Cry'. It is not just the way Kate handles her voice, but also the musicality of her lyrics, the way in which the words join the music.
There were two instances where the setlist parted from the record. The first one was at the start of the second set. Before continuing with the album, Kate performed a musicalized version of Jakob Van Hoddis' poem 'Weltende', from 1910. She did it in a restrained fashion, in German, very differently from how it was interpreted in the mid 80s by the Mike Westbrook Trio. The second was the performance, by the end of the evening, of 'The Streams of Lovely Lucienne', originally from the Westbrook & Company album 'Platterback' (1999).
A magical night that allowed us to attest once again to the good shape of these British jazz legends and their band.
Original Spanish Text: Francisco Macías
English Translation: Juanfran Andrade
Kate Westbrook and The Granite Band, Kings Place 16/05/2019. photo: Matthew North