Composer/bandleader Mike Westbrook and singer/librettist Kate Westbrook first joined forces in the mid-1970's. Touring and performing worldwide, they have generated a huge variety of vocal music, from cabaret songs to opera. They have produced epic concert works, based on settings of European poetry, notably The Cortege and Chanson Irresponsable (both on Enja Records), and their current “jazz/rock oratorio” A Bigger Show ( ASC Records) performed, by their 23-piece Uncommon Orchestra. Their duo album Allsorts (ASC Records) combines original songwriting with re-workings of the standard repertoire, including the music of Kurt Weill, Friedrich Hollaender and Cole Porter, and draws on previously unissued performances recorded by Jon Hiseman over two decades.
Kate Westbrook’s repertoire embraces Contemporary Music and Cabaret, as well as Jazz and Popular Song. She has written libretti for Opera and Music-Theatre. In her album, Cuff Clout (voiceprint), as reviewed in Downbeat magazine “Westbrook sets her witty and eccentric texts to bold and fascinating genre-crossing music.” Her CD The Nijinska Chamber (voiceprint), celebrates the life of the dancer and choreographer Bronislava Nijinska. With the contemporary classical ensemble Lavolta Kate performs music by Walton, Kurt Weill and Judith Weir. Her latest collaboration with Mike Westbrook is Paintbox Jane a musical celebration of the painter Raoul Dufy in which she performs with the music theatre group Westbrook & Company.
Mike Westbrook has led a succession of big bands and small groups since the 1960s. He has written for jazz and classical ensembles, for the stage, television and experimental theatre. He has made over fifty albums. His Citadel/Room 315, featuring Jon Surman, and his Ellington tribute On Duke’s Birthday are regarded as classics of jazz composition. His Big Band Rossini, - jazz and rock variations on themes from the operas of Gioacchino Rossini, was the first jazz work to be featured in the BBC Proms. His settings of the poetry of William Blake, The Westbrook Blake, have been described in The Independent on Sunday as “Perhaps the greatest work in all British Jazz.” His most recent recording is the solo piano album PARIS (ASC Records).
A showcase for the zestful, powerfully dramatic vocal style of one of the UK's most individual singers, Kate Westbrook - her extraordinary impact is best savoured live." Chris Parker - The Times
Kate Westbrook emotes quite superbly, conjuring up the sense of cabaret from little more than looks, smiles and opera gloves, and a quirky series of deeply expressive personae - A continuously enthralling evening. Phil Johnson - The Independent
Mike Westbrook is a Master of jazz orchestration. He can suggest a carnival, a ballroom, or greasy back street with a few cunningly placed notes. The full effect is awe inspiring. Dave Gelly - The Observer