(voice / tenor horn)
(piano / euphonium)
Pete Whyman (saxophone)
Chris Biscoe (saxophone)
texts Kate Westbrook
music Mike Westbrook
My Pale Parasol
Art Wolf Sketches
Oil paint on Canvas
Art Wolf Scavenges
In meinem Puppenhaus
Mein bleicher Sonnenschirm
Oil and Pencil on Cardboard
Whose Wolf Art Thou?
Album recorded with financial assistance from Airshaft Trust
and Aargauer Kunsthaus.
Inspired by and in tribute to the 18th century Swiss painter Caspar Wolf, this beautiful record is about the loneliness and external exile that many artists seem to undergo. A parallel perhaps between the subject here and the creators of this music? As with Wolf's wonderful Alpine scenes, Mike's music speaks for itself. With less than a handful of instruments, sometimes just a piano and voice, Kate and Mike create huge canvasses of their own to compliment Wolf's landscapes. 'Art Wolf Sketches' builds into a towering peak lifted by the simplest but most direct of texts. 'Oil Paint On Canvas' follows the appropriately stately and elegiac 'Exile', its lightness of pace and mood strangely counter the lyric that focuses both on the the artists materials and the irony of landscape contained inside home or museum. The long 'Art Wolf Scavenges' returns to the earlier theme, musically and lyrically. With a dark and coruscating solo from Biscoe aided by Hiseman's percussion, it's as if Kate's lyrics have succeeded in in capturing the essence and terror of the creative process. 'Unsigned Panorama' and 'Sketching Party' are two lovely instrumentals and the closing 'Whose Wolf Art Thou?', with its wry lyric, is a powerful ending to an excellent album. Its music, and Art, that works as a series of miniatures or, if expanded for an orchestra, would work on a grander scale.
Duncan Heining - Jazzwise August 2005
The decades-long association of Mike and Kate Westbrook goes ahead and anew with this superb new record, a true gift actually, one that combines classicality and experimentation in a perfect blend of good taste and matured energy. It is a commissioned work inspired by the art of Swiss painter Caspar Wolf (1735 - 1783), whose alpine painted landscapes are reproduced in the accompanying booklet.
Kate's interpretation of her own lyrics in both English and German unveils her versatile singing, intense and seductive, fluctuating somewhere between intimate sighing and expressionistic cabaret exasperations. Mike, alternately at piano and euphonium, expertly directs the music with arrangements that make the band sound a lot greater than just a quartet.
Exemplary, often tremendous, are the two other contributing musicians - particularly Chris Biscoe, with the Westbrooks since the early 80's - while John Hiseman is also featured on a couple of tracks.
Libero Farnè [MUSICA JAZZ . August-September 2005]
Sound samples from this album can be heard on the Westbrookjazz site: