The Cortège

Erme Estuary

To Philip Westbrook 1908-1981

During February 1981, my father died. Among many things l owe him is a love of music and the theatre, a love which my mother shares. He has my eternal thanks for introducing me, as a teenager, to the music of Duke Ellington. At that time he bought me a 10-inch L.P. of Duke’s 1940s bad, which was my bible for many years. At his funeral, in the village church of Holbeton, Devon, Kate and I were able to play Duke's hymn "Come Sunday".

At the time of his death, l was working on the music for a TV documentary, “The Haunt Of Man", directed by Mischa Scorer. The Film is about world resources and Mans destruction of the Environment. and the so-called "civilised" world`s exploitation of the Third World countries.

I wrote a piece of music for a sequence of film that showed some of the glories of the natural world, now threatened by Man’s greed. This short piece forms the basis of a new section of "The Cortège that l dedicate to my father. It is named after the river near my parents’ home in Devon, the Erme. In its lower reaches, the Erme flows from water meadows to a wide, wooded estuary- a broad stretch of mud flats at low tide, and across a threshold of shallows and sand-banks into the open sea.

Kate and Mike WestbrookThe music uses a 9/4 rhythm, introduced by Dave Barry using mallets on drums and cymbals. Then a trio (bamboo flute, cello and bass guitar) plays a sequence of chords. The chords are thickened up with brass and reeds behind a theme for piccolo, clarinet and bassoon, leading to Phil Todd’s clarinet solo. Later a waltz theme, played in thirds by trombone and tenor horn, is superimposed against the bands 9/4 figures, A clarinet break leads to a rhythmic, blues-like section in which Malcolm Griffiths plunger muted trombone solo echoes Joe Nanton’s solo on the 1946 version of "Black and Tan Fantasy ” that was my introduction to Duke Ellington`s music.

After a trombone break, layers of sound by the Orchestra drift over an ostinato figure by piano, piccolo and cello, and the waltz theme is reprised by Chris Hunter on tenor saxophone, over washes of cymbals, as the piece merges into a ‘choral guitar" improvisation by Brian Godding.


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