EFG London Jazz Festival 2021

Mike Westbrook 'The Piano and Me'

plus Q&A with Richard Williams

Event Has Passed

Last Show: Sunday 14 th November 2021

PizzaExpress Jazz Club (Soho)

In a rare solo performance Mike Westbrook, "one of Britain’s most creative, experimental and daring jazz composers"(The Times) improvises on themes from his own musical history as a jazz composer of almost everything from epic orchestral works to cabaret songs, with references across the spectrum of genres,- Jazz classics, Pop music and the Blues. In the words of Observer critic Dave Gelly “Westbrook’s style is an engaging mixture of warmth and dissonance, spiced with a touch of honky-tonk.”

The concert will be preceded by a discussion between Mike Westbrook and the jazz writer Richard Williams.

Sponsored by HTA

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"Britain’s most innovative big and leader"

The Wire

Mike Westbrook has been a bandleader since the 1960s. He has toured worldwide and performed his work in many countries. He has recorded more than 50 albums. His compositions range from works for jazz and classical ensembles to stage musicals, opera, dance, television and experimental theatre. Major works include Citadel/Room 315 featuring John Surman, The Cortège a European song-cycle, and On Duke’s Birthday dedicated to the memory of Duke Ellington. His Big Band Rossini was featured at the BBC Proms in 1992. That same year a three-day festival devoted to his music was held in Catania, Sicily. Recordings from this are released on the album Catania. Work for theatre includes Tyger, Adrian Mitchell’s musical about William Blake staged by the National Theatre in 1971. TV music credits include the award winning drama Caught on a Train by Stephen Poliakoff, starring Peggy Ashcroft and Michael Kitchen. His opera Coming Through Slaughter based on Michael Ondaatje’s novel about the New Orleans cornettist Buddy Bolden was premiered in London in 1994. Mike’s saxophone concerto Bean Rows and Blues Shots was commissioned by Bournemouth Sinfonietta for John Harle. Compositions for voice, written in collaboration with his wife, vocalist/librettist Kate Westbrook, include a one-woman opera Cape Gloss, and large-scale concert works combining classical and jazz vocalists and instrumentalists, notably London Bridge is Broken Down ‘a personal map of Europe’, Turner in Uri about  J.M.W. Turner’s travels in Switzerland, and Chanson Irresponsable a piece inspired by the song of the Sedge Warbler. The Westbrooks have generated a number of music-theatre shows and jazz cabarets. Among these are The Ass based on the poem by D.H.Lawrence, Art Wolf about the 18th century Alpine Painter Caspar Wolf, The Serpent Hit, a Political Fable, premiered at Wilton’s Music Hall in 2013 and Paintbox Jane about the painter Raoul Dufy.

Mike has often written for Kate Westbrook’s solo projects, notably her ‘neo-teric music hall’ Cuff Clout, and The Nijinska Chamber, dedicated to the great dancer/choreographer Bronislava Nijinska. He is a member of Kate’s Granite Band, which has recorded two albums, Granite and Earth Felt The Wound.

Currently Mike Westbrook performs with his south-west based Uncommon Orchestra, and  The Westbrook Blake. He plays in trio with Kate and saxophonist Chris Biscoe. He gives solo piano performances and has recently released two solo albums Paris and Starcross Bridge.