with pianists John Alley, Mike Westbrook,
and vocal group Fine Trash. (Jacqueline Barron/Denise Shane/Carey Wilson/
Michael Doré/Simon Grant - Leader)
Distribution: Cadiz Music
Kate Westbrook's album GOODBYE PETER LORRE has at its heart the Bertold Brecht / Hanns Eisler 'Hollywood Elegies'. Visiting Hollywood in 1941, Brecht was dismayed to find his friend Peter Lorre (once regarded in Germany as the greatest actor of his generation) corrupted by 'Tinsel Town' and lost to Art. Brecht poured his scorn and his regret into a sequence of short poems, Hollywood Elegies, brilliantly set to music by Hanns Eisler.
The artist's moral dilemma, as exemplified in the split between Brecht and Lorre, is Kate's starting point in assembling this collection of songs. She draws on popular standards, on Brecht / Weill, Cole Porter, and on original theatre songs, as she explores themes of betrayal and of 'selling out' in politics, love and art.
GOODBYE PETER LORRE, with its broad sweep of emotions, takes place within the framework of the Silver Screen. Kate, as the Chanteuse, takes us on the artist's journey, - whatever her inner conflicts and whatever is happening in the world, the Chanteuse must go on stage and face the public - 'The Show Goes On'.
Kate Westbrook is accompanied by pianists John Alley and Mike Westbrook, and joined on several tracks by the vocal group Fine Trash. The album is produced by Jon Hiseman.
GOODBYE PETER LORRE was originally released by Line Music, Hamburg, in 1991 on the Femme label. Now revised and re-mastered, and issued by Voiceprint, it is available in the UK for the first time.
This recording is available to buy online from Westbrook Records.
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Kate Westbrook has rarely recorded in her own right and her contributions to partner Mike's albums such as Cortege, London Bridge and the equally exceptional Chanson Irresponsable are frequently underestimated. If last year's Cuff Clout revealed her ability to put a wide-ranging and coherent project together, this reissue from 1991 adds further perspective to her talent.
The vocal group Fine trash feature on two tracks only. Otherwise it's an album that stands or falls by Kate's performance alone. Her style draws consciously more on the European cabaret and Broadway traditions than jazz and the material here suits her well. This is the story of Peter Lorre, one of pre-war Germany's greatest theatre actors lost to Hollywood decadence, his art destroyed by drugs and debts. The contrast with his one time friend Brecht is sustained by a fine version of 'Sailor's Tango', a magnificent 'Surabaya Johnny' and by 'Hollywood Elegies', a series of short Brecht poems set to music. As she ponders Lorre's fate, Kate meditates on the inherent conflict between art and entertainment, friendship and estrangement and on exile both external and internal. With a well-chosen programme, 'Love For Sale', 'As Time Goes By' alongside some marvellous lyrics and translations from Kate, including the marvellous 'Goodbye Peter Lorre' and 'The Show Goes On', the disc is a highly evocative and effective piece of creative work put together with painterly attention to detail. Duncan Heining - Jazzwise