OFF ABBEY ROAD
Mike Westbrook Band:
The music of The Beatles.
Music arranged by
Produced by William Strode and
1. Come Together (4.51)
2. Something (8.46)
3. Maxwell's Silver Hammer (3.34)
4. Oh! Darling (4.31)
5. Octopus's Garden (4.17)
6. I Want You (She's So Heavy) (7.57)
7. Here Comes The Sun (6.24)
8. Because (10.00)
9. You Never Give Me Your Money (7.08)
10. Sun King (2.28)
11. Mean Mr. Mustard (2.06)
12. Polythene Pam (1.50)
13. She Came In Through The Bathroom Window (2.39)
14. Golden Slumbers (3.55)
15. Carry That Weight (1.20)
16. The End (1.55)
Kate Westbrook (voice. tenor horn. piccolo)
Phil Minton (voice, trumpet)
Andy Grappy (tuba)
Peter Whyman, Alan Wakeman (saxophones)
Brian Godding (guitar)
Peter Fairclough (drums)
Mike Westbrook (piano)
Music & Lyrics by Lennon & McCartney except 2 & 7 Harrison & 5 Starr.
Arranged by Mike Westbrook.
Produced by William Strode and Mike Westbrook.
TipToe Enja records: CD TIP 888805-2/
Distributed in the UK by AMD
The Beatles' 'ABBEY ROAD' album is the basis of Mike Westbrook's 'OFF ABBEY ROAD' project,- a re-creation by contemporary musicians of one of the master works of pop music. Premiered in Reggio Emilia, Italy in December 1988 as part of a Festival celebrating The Beatles, 'OFF ABBEY ROAD' was an instant success with audiences and critics.
From 1989-91 the Westbrook Band toured 'OFF ABBEY ROAD' throughout France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, appearing in many of the major European jazz festivals. A particular highlight was the 1990 Montreal Festival where the Band played an open-air concert to an audience of 30,000.'OFF ABBEY ROAD' made its UK debut with two performances at the Electric Cinema in Portobello Road, London, which were filmed for German TV, Recorded 'live' at the 1989 Willisau Jazz Festival, the 'OFF ABBEY ROAD' album was released in 1990 on ENJA Record's new TipToe label.
In 1995 'OFF ABBEY ROAD' was revived for a Beatles Festival in Trento, Italy. By that time John Winfield had taken on Phil Minton's role. During '96 there were performances in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Finland, France and the UK. The Mike Westbrook Band, specially formed for 'OFF ABBEY ROAD', brings together some of the outstanding jazz performers associated with Westbrook's music in recent years. The latest recruit is drummer Simon Pearson. OFF ABBEY ROAD re-surfaced in 2009, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the release of The Beatles Abbey Road album. The current revival began in London with a performance at the 2012 Exhibition Road Show.
Composer and pianist Mike Westbrook has been tapping into the ancestral memories of the English for decades. He plucks out folk tunes, music-hall songs, hymns, lines from William Blake, and mingles them ingeniously with another half-remembered thing - jazz and blues - until we hardly know where one ends and the next begins.
More than twenty years ago the Beatles’ Abbey Road received the Westbrook treatment, and this week the resulting show made a welcome return. At the time this was a risky proposition. This isn’t a half-remembered folk tune, this is something audiences know only too well. They jealously guard every guitar lick, and treasure every word, even the baffling ones (I’m still wondering what the line “She could steal, but she could not rob” might actually mean).
Abbey Road being the first album I ever bought with my saved-up pocket- money, I’m as fanatical about it as the next man. I have to admit the Westbrook band’s sound, with its rumbustious tuba (played by Andy Grappy), the wailing high Balkan-sounding clarinet (Pete Whyman) and the solid and ostentatiously plain piano-playing of Mike Westbrook himself, all took some getting used to. Not to mention the singing of Kate Westbrook, which is about as far from McCartney as you could imagine.
But it wasn’t long before I could feel my resistance crumbling. The great thing about Westbrook’s arrangements is that they’re alert to all the album’s references, not just the English ones. Oh, Darling here sounded like a proper 1950s rock-and-roll ballad, Westbrook’s piano hammering away like a bluesman’s, singer John Winfield belting out the song with throat-tearing abandon.
With the familiar album sound stripped away, the band could seize on the intriguing harmonies and run with them - as in ’She’s so heavy’, where the repeating chordal pattern is just begging to have ecstatic jazz sax and guitar riffs entwined over the top.
Sometimes you feel the band is gently sending up the original, which of course adds to the quintessential Englishness of the whole thing. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer sounded like a perky music-hall song, sung with a trace of a Northern accent by Kate Westbrook, Grappy’s tuba grunting satirically down below.
But mostly their affection lent a new romantic glow to the music, exemplified in the long, melancholy improvised duet from the two wind players that began the second set. We were all mystified, until finally Golden Slumbers emerged, like a sunrise out of mist, and everybody cheered.
Ivan Hewett - Daily Telegraph Review of 606 Club performance - October 2010
A rich and often thrilling performance that both transformed and burnished the original material.
John Fordham THE GUARDIAN
Westbrook's faithful and wonderfully good humored rendition of The Beatles' 1969 album 'ABBEY ROAD' underscores its music-hall whimsy and ravishing melodies. The Beatles purists I have played it for are as delighted as I am.
Gary Giddins VILLAGE VOICE
It’s probably the most significant and exhilarating re-interpretation of Beatles music so far.
Neville Hadsley - CD Review
John Lennon, the most progressive of The Beatles, would have been delighted ... a real adventure on the borderlines between pop and jazz.
Manfred Schmidt STEREO MAGAZINE Germany- 'CD of the Month
Mike’s rearrangements of the entire Abbey Road album for crazed jazz ensemble has worked brilliantly. The concert was simply outstanding, and the album is a stroke of genius too.’
Jez Ford - What Hi-Fi
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