Mike Westbrook
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Mike Westbrook

MIKE WESTBROOK

composer, pianist, big band leader

Mike Westbrook has led, and composed for, a succession of Big Bands and small groups since the early 1960s. He has toured extensively throughout Europe and further afield and made 30 albums. His principal compositions for Jazz Orchestra include Citadel/Room 315 featuring John Surman, On Duke’s Birthday (dedicated to the memory of Duke Ellington), and Big Band Rossini, which was featured in the 1992 BBC Proms.

Works for classical ensembles include a saxophone concerto Bean Rows and Blues Shots, commissioned by the Bournemouth Sinfonietta for John Harle, and a score for the silent movie Moulin Rouge commissioned by the Matrix Ensemble. Mike’s television music credits include the award-winning BBC drama Caught on A Train by Stephen Poliakoff starring Peggy Ashcroft.

His work for the theatre began with Adrian Mitchell’s Tyger a celebration of William Blake, staged by the National Theatre in 1971. His opera Coming Through Slaughter, with libretto by Michael Morris based on Michael Ondaatje’s novel about the New Orleans cornettist Buddy Bolden, was premiered in London in a concert version in 1994.

In collaboration with his wife, singer/librettist Kate Westbrook, he has generated a whole series of jazz/cabarets and music-theatre pieces, notably their current production Platterback which is set to tour UK this year. They have also created large-scale concert works incorporating settings of European poetry, as in London Bridge is Broken Down, a work for voice, jazz group and chamber orchestra. Jago, the first full-scale opera which Kate and Mike Westbrook have written together, was performed by Wedmore Opera in 2000. Their latest collaboration, Chanson Irresponsable, an innovative composition for the fifteen-piece New Westbrook Orchestra, has been commissioned and broadcast by BBC Radio 3.

Mike Westbrook’s current albums for ENJA Records include Bar Utopia, a big-band cabaret with lyrics by Helen Simpson, The Orchestra of Smith's Academy, compositions recorded 'live' by the Mike Westbrook Orchestra and the Steve Martland Band, and Glad Day settings of William Blake sung by Phil Minton and Kate Westbrook with the Mike Westbrook Brass Band. His latest release is Platterback with Westbrook & Company, released on the Jazzprint label.

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