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Remembering John and Margery Styles, founder members of Smith’s Academy.
12 December 2021
No. 61
Goose Sauce cover
The album ‘Goose Sauce’ by the Mike Westbrook Brass Band was released by Original Records in 1978.
Phil Minton trumpet/vocals Kate Westbrook tenor horn/piccolo/vocals,
Dave Chambers tenor & soprano saxes/flute George Khan baritone & soprano saxes/flute
Paul Rutherford trombone/euphonium Mike Westbrook euphonium/piano,
Trevor Tomkins percussion.
Goose Sauce logo
Goose Sauce was the Brass Band's 'difficult' second album. Yet listening four decades later I realise what a lively and creative time this was for the band. To the original five,- Phil, Kate, Dave, Paul and me, we had added saxophonist George Khan and, controversially, percussionist Trevor Tomkins. The experience of performing in a variety of situations, European touring and some bizarre collaborations had strengthened our nerve. The sound of the band had become denser, heavier. Where the 1975 album 'For the Record' had no fewer than eighteen tracks, the pieces on 'Goose Sauce' were fewer, longer. The repertoire was still very much thrown together. We had not yet arrived at the integrated jazz cabaret of 'Mama Chicago'.
'Goose Sauce' was an ad hoc mix. Anything that worked, that fired up or amused the band was included. So political song, street music, cod folk tunes, jazz and theatre classics, circus and panto music, all went into the pot, along with lashings of improvisation.
'Goosewing' was a piece salvaged from Adrian Mitchell’s play 'Man Friday'. 'Wheel of Fortune' and 'Wheels Go Round' (based on a West Country folk song) were the product of collaborations with John Fox and the Welfare State theatre group. Kate’s performance of the Rogers and Hart song 'Ten Cents a Dance' and the use of piano signalled the move from street music to music-theatre.
The pantomime Overture to 'Mother Goose' dating from 1805 was arranged for the BBC TV 'History of Panto' directed by Tony Staveacre and featuring the Ken Campbell group. 'Gooseflesh' accompanied the great Jimmy Jewell in his re-enactment of the historic 'Haunted Bedroom' sketch.
Around that time the Brass Band collaborated with the rock group Henry Cow and folk singer Frankie Armstrong. We did a number of concerts around Europe under the name The Orckestra. Rather than a musical coming together, it was primarily social and political. But all of us shared an interest in Bertolt Brecht. One of the pieces I arranged for the whole company was a deconstruction of 'Alabama Song' from 'Mahagonny'. Not everyone approved of taking liberties with a 'classic' theatre song.
A highlight of Orckestra concerts was Frankie singing her setting of 'Mourn Not The Dead', a text written by a member of the Wobblies (Industrial Workers of the World, an American movement of the early 1900s). On 'Goose Sauce' Phil gives his interpretation. 'Anthem', based on an earlier piano setting of Wilfred Owen’s 'Anthem for Doomed Youth', takes up this bitter theme. Then back to street music and Thelonious Monk’s 'Jackie-ing', a modern jazz march to take us back to town New Orleans-style.
Laurence Aston, Kate and I were sitting in the Italian cafeteria in Southampton Row which regularly served as our office in those days. One of the three of us came up with the title 'Goose Sauce'. It could well have been Laurence, a number-one Marx Brothers fan. Certainly a sense of incongruity, of humour (Sauce!), featured in band performances. Any music was fair game whatever the origin and would get the Brass Band treatment, - "What’s Sauce for the Goose is Sauce for the Gander".
If you have been finding your jazz rather bland and predictable recently, you may find that a dash of this '70s 'Goose Sauce' works wonders for the palate!
Mike Westbrook

Goose Sauce is available as a download from Westbrook Records
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Kate & Mike Westbrook
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