‘three into wonderfull’ digitally re-mastered by Jon Hiseman, presents a cross section of the Westbrook Trio’s recordings over three decades. The selection includes original songs by Kate and Mike Westbrook, settings of European poetry, and jazz standards. There are highlights from two early albums, A Little Westbrook Music and Love For Sale, tracks previously unavailable on CD. There are tracks from the more recent Good Friday 1663 and from L’Ascenseur/The Lift, as well as new recording. At the heart of the album is previously un-released material from the mid 90’s, which includes some of the Trio’s finest performances on record, notably a remarkable 16 minute version of their classic Traurig aber falsch (Sad but untrue).
“three into wonderfull” supported by Airshaft Trust
Westbrook Trio at Moods, Zurich
Photos: Peter Fritz
The Westbrook Trio is the longest established and most widely travelled of all Mike Westbrook’s ensembles. The Trio’s mix of composition, song, and improvisation has been at the heart of many Westbrook projects, from the seminal Brass Band of the ‘70s to the New Westbrook Orchestra. From the early ‘80s, Kate, Mike and Chris have continued to perform regularly throughout Europe as well as touring in Canada, Australia and the Far East.
The group’s geographical and musical adventures are commemorated in their 20th Anniversary album L’ascenseur/The Lift of which Observer critic Dave Gelly wrote “No one has succeeded in creating a more distinctive body of work than Mike and Kate Westbrook. Their mixture of jazz, music-theatre, poetry, street entertainment and visuals is rich and unique. That just three people can create such a variety of sounds is hard to believe."
‘some proof that three into wonderful will go’ (The Westbrook Trio reviewed in The Times in 1994)
Kate Westbrook’s repertoire embraces Jazz, Music Theatre and Popular Song as well as the work of such contemporary composers as Michael Finnissy. She has sung the role of Anna in The Seven Deadly Sins by Brecht and Weill with the London Symphony Orchestra, arias by Rossini with the Mike Westbrook Orchestra in Big Band Rossini at the BBC Proms, and songs by the Beatles with the Westbrook Band in Off Abbey Road. As a lyricist, often working in collaboration with Mike Westbrook, Kate has written many song cycles, most recently for the album Fine ‘n Yellow. Her libretti include the one-woman opera Cape Gloss, Mathilda’s Story. Her recordings include Cuff Clout, a Neoteric Music Hall with her band The Skirmishers, in which her texts are set by eight composers from the worlds of Jazz, Rock, Pop and Contemporary Classical Music, Art Wolf, dedicated to the 18th century Alpine painter Caspar Wolf, The Nijinska Chamber, a celebration of the great dancer/choreographer Bronislava Nijinska and the Westbrook Trio album ‘three into wonderfull’.
Chris Biscoe has featured in many leading ensembles, notably Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath, George Russell’s Living Time Orchestra, the Hermeto Pascoal Orchestra and the David Murray Big Band. In addition to his collaborations with Mike and Kate Westbrook, Chris has performed and recorded with the likes of Liam Noble, Ben Davis, Tony Marsh and Harry Beckett as well as the improvising group Full Monte. As a composer, arranger and bandleader Chris has made a number of albums, notably Gone In The Air, the music of Eric Dolphy, in partnership with fellow saxophonist Tony Kofi, and Mingus Profiles, featuring his arrangements for septet of works by Charles Mingus. His next recording project is a live album by his Profiles Quartet. Guardian critic John Fordham writes “Chris has made the territory between postbop and free-jazz entirely his own.“
Mike Westbrook has led and composed for a succession of big bands and small groups since the 1960s. His compositions range from large-scale works for jazz and classical ensembles, such as The Cortege and London Bridge is Broken Down, to stage musicals, opera and experimental theatre, as well as pieces for radio, TV and cinema. He has made over fifty albums, among them Citadel/Room 315, featuring John Surman, Glad Day, settings of William Blake and On Duke’s Birthday, dedicated to Duke Ellington. His work for the theatre includes Adrian Mitchell's Tyger a celebration of William Blake, staged by the National Theatre in 1971. Mike's television music credits include the award-winning BBC drama Caught On a Train by Stephen Poilakoff , directed by Peter Duffell, starring Peggy Ashcroft and Michael Kitchen. His opera Coming Through Slaughter based on the novel by Michael Ondaatje about the New Orleans cornettist Buddy Bolden, was premiered in London in a concert version in 1994. He has directed performances of his work with big bands in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, France, Italy, Slovenia, Australia and Switzerland. Recent collaborations with Kate Westbrook include Chanson Irresponsable, recorded by the New Westbrook Orchestra, the song cycle The Serpent Hit and the Duo song album allsorts. He was awarded the OBE in 1988.
"Kate Westbrook is a singer whose vocal range never fails to surprise. With Mike Westbrook on piano and Chris Biscoe on alto and soprano saxophones, the Trio dismantled old jazz standards and Brecht/Weill songs alike, putting them back together with an entirely original charm. In addition we were treated to bizarre compositions of Kate's, containing lyrics of wit and absurdity.
Mike spun both classical European and jazz American threads on the piano, complemented by exciting dialogues between Kate and Chris. Using double tonguing, alien tones, hard bop jazz runs and angular interjections, Biscoe ensnared Kate's singing and contributed sensitively played solos (he was particularly inspired in Billy Strayhorn's 'Lush Life').
The Trio struck an intriguing balance between new music and improvisations, jazz, art songs and cabaret numbers,- an uncommonly gripping musical experience." Leverkusen Festival concert reviewed in Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger