photo: Sergio Amadori ©
After the Serpent’s bite there is no turning back. Kate Westbrook’s libretto recounts, with irony, humour and regret, the Fall of Humankind in a world hell-bent on its own destruction.
Mike Westbrook’s genre-crossing score combines Kate’s voice with the saxophones of Andy Tweed, Chris Biscoe, Karen Street and Chris Caldwell, and the drums of Simon Pearson.
“No one has succeeded in creating a more distinctive body of work than Mike and Kate Westbrook. Their mixture of jazz, music- theatre, poetry, street entertainment and visuals is rich and unique.”
Dave Gelly The Observer
The Serpent Hit CD
Launched with a performance at Wilton's Music Hall, London
The Serpent Hit album is now available from Westbrook Records, as well as jazzcds.
Some of our foremost Jazz writers respond to the new album.
See the the articles by
Richard Williams, Chris Parker, John Fordham, Dave Gelly, Stephen Graham,
Duncan Heining and Andy Robson.
Information and Booking: firstname.lastname@example.org
soprano & alto
photographs: Rob Tweed ©
Chris Biscoe has featured in many leading ensembles, notably Chris McGregor’s
Brotherhood of Breath, George Russell’s Living Time Orchestra, the Hermeto Pascoal Orchestra and the David Murray Big Band. In addition to his collaborations with Mike and Kate Westbrook, Chris has performed and recorded with the likes of Liam Noble, Ben Davis, Tony Marsh and Harry Beckett as well as the improvising group Full Monte. As a composer, arranger and bandleader Chris has made a number of albums, notably Gone In The Air, the music of Eric Dolphy, in partnership with fellow saxophonist Tony Kofi, and Profiles of Mingus, featuring his arrangements for septet of works by Charles Mingus. His next recording project is a live album by his Profiles Quartet. Guardian critic John Fordham writes “Chris has made the territory between postbop and free-jazz entirely his own. “
Chris Caldwell graduated from the Guildhall School Of Music & Drama in 1986 having studied with Stephen Trier. Chris has been involved with some of Britain's leading contemporary composers and ensembles including The Mike Westbrook Orchestra, BCMG, Steve Martland Band, London Saxophonic, Michael Nyman Band and The Delta Saxophone Quartet. Chris has performed and toured worldwide with many of the UK's leading classical orchestras including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, CBSO, Royal Opera House, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonia. Since 2009, Chris has been developing a new area of improvisations and compositions with flautist Susie Hodder-Williams, inspired by the natural history of Dartmoor. The Mariner's Way CD is the first result of this partnership. In 2010, he set up a performance series, in Devon, called Music on the Edge.
Simon Pearson took a diploma in jazz & light music at Leeds College of Music. He studied a post-graduate diploma in jazz at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 1991 and is now based in London. Involved in an eclectic mix of music, including jazz, latin, various world musics, indie, rock, pop and contemporary classical, Simon continues as a freelance player and educator. Simon has played, toured, recorded and broadcast with artists as diverse as Steve Albini, Katia Labeque, John Cale, Deirdre Cartwright, John Crawford, Jacqui Dankworth, Delta Sax Quartet, Divine Comedy, Luke Haines, Immodesty Blaize Big Band, Stacey Kent, London Symphony Orchestra, Steve Martland Band, Janette Mason, Jim Mullen, Spiritualized, Sister Sledge, Joby Talbot, Jimi Tenor, Will Todd, Trevor Watts, the Wedding Present, Mike & Kate Westbrook, Annie Whitehead. Solo writing credits include an Arts Council commission for Michael Clark Dance Company and a commission by designer Hussain Chalayan for his Paris fashion week show.
Karen Street started playing the accordion when she was seven. She became the British Virtuoso Champion in1981/2 and competed in the World Championships in Hamburg and Folkstone. Although initially classically trained she became involved in the jazz world throughher work with Mike Westbrook and has been involved in many of his projects and toured and recorded with Westbrook & Company in the music-theatre piece Platterback. She is featured on Kate Westbrook’s album The Nijinska Chamber. She has also played with Tim Garland, Nikki Isles, Phil Robson, Steve Arguelles, Stan Sulzman, Mike Outram and Fred Theloniuos Baker. Karen has produced three CDs under her own name, the most recent being Another Story, firmly establishing her reputation as a jazz accordionist and composer. She has also played with The Nash Ensemble, Ice Breaker, Opera North and the Matrix Ensemble.
Andy Tweed was born and grew up in Northern Ireland. He left to study clarinet and saxophone at Birmingham Conservatoire. Andy played with and directed Saxtet for twenty years, performing a repertoire of original compositions and arrangements, worldwide. He has a broad range of musical interests especially contemporary music and jazz. He has appeared with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Ballet Rambert, and currently works with Flotilla, a self styled saxophone consort of four musicians performing and commissioning new work. Andy is in great demand as a teacher and examiner. He currently is visiting tutor of saxophone at Birmingham Conservatoire and at Wells Cathedral School where he has the added responsibility of Jazz Coordinator. Andy taught for many years at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Junior Department. He has given masterclasses and workshops at Royal College of Music, Leeds College of Music, Chetham’s School of Music. Every summer he works on the European Youth Summer Music course.
Kate Westbrook’s repertoire embraces Jazz, Music Theatre and Popular Song as well as the work of such contemporary composers as Michael Finnissy. She has sung the role of Anna in The Seven Deadly Sins by Brecht and Weill with the London Symphony Orchestra, arias by Rossini with the Mike Westbrook Orchestra in Big Band Rossini at the BBC Proms, and songs by the Beatles with the Westbrook Band in Off Abbey Road. As a lyricist, often working in collaboration with Mike Westbrook, Kate has written many song cycles, most recently for the album Fine ‘n Yellow. Her libretti include the one-woman opera Cape Gloss, Mathilda’s Story. Her recordings include Cuff Clout, a Neoteric Music Hall with her band The Skirmishers, in which her texts are set by eight composers from the worlds of Jazz, Rock, Pop and Contemporary Classical Music, Art Wolf, dedicated to the 18th century Alpine painter Caspar Wolf, The Nijinska Chamber, a celebration of the great dancer/choreographer Bronislava Nijinska and the Westbrook Trio album ‘three into wonderfull’.
Mike Westbrook has led and composed for a succession of big bands and small groups since the 1960s. His compositions range from large-scale works for jazz and classical ensembles, such as The Cortege and London Bridge is Broken Down, to stage musicals, opera and experimental theatre, as well as pieces for radio, TV and cinema. He has made over fifty albums, among them Citadel/Room 315, featuring John Surman, Glad Day, settings of William Blake and On Duke’s Birthday, dedicated to Duke Ellington. His work for the theatre includes Adrian Mitchell's Tyger a celebration of William Blake, staged by the National Theatre in 1971. Mike's television music credits include the award-winning BBC drama Caught On a Train by Stephen Poilakoff, directed by Peter Duffell, starring Peggy Ashcroft and Michael Kitchen. His opera Coming Through Slaughter based on the novel by Michael Ondaatje about the New Orleans cornettist Buddy Bolden, was premiered in London in a concert version in 1994. He has directed performances of his work with big bands in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, France, Italy, Slovenia, Australia and Switzerland. Recent collaborations with Kate Westbrook include Chanson Irresponsable, recorded by the New Westbrook Orchestra, the song cycle The Serpent Hit and the Duo song album allsorts. He was awarded the OBE in 1988.
text by Kate Westbrook music by Mike Westbrook
‘THE SERPENT HIT’