Pianist, Composer, Bandleader
Mike Westbrook, “one of Britain’s most creative, experimental and daring jazz composers” (The Times), first made his mark on the UK scene in the 1960s. Since then he has led and composed for a succession of big bands and small groups, toured internationally and made over fifty albums. The Westbrook Blake, Mike’s settings of the poetry of William Blake, has been described as “perhaps the greatest work in all British Jazz” (The Independent). His Big Band Rossini, based on the operas of Gioachino Rossini, was the first jazz work ever presented in the BBC Proms. His current large-scale project is On Duke’s Birthday, a composition dedicated to Ellington, performed by his West-Country-based big band The Uncommon Orchestra.
He gives solo piano recitals, and is a member of Kate Westbrook’s Granite Band. He also regularly works with Kate in small group contexts - duo, trio and quartet. His compositions include large-scale works for jazz and classical ensembles as well as stage musicals, experimental theatre, film and TV. His song writing collaboration with Kate ranges from Jazz Cabaret to Opera and includes original song cycles, notably with her new album Earth Felt The Wound. Other recent album releases include Love and Understanding, (recorded in Stockholm with John Surman and the Swedish Radio Jazz Group in 1974), and A Bigger Show with the Uncommon Orchestra. Mike recently released two solo piano albums, recorded in Paris and produced by the late Jon Hiseman, PARIS and Starcross Bridge.
"Britain's most innovative Big Band leader.”
“With this immensely powerful work (London Bridge is Broken Down) Westbrook reinstates his claim to international pre-eminence among the heirs of Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus.”
“Whether he is writing for a trio or a 20 piece orchestra, Westbrook’s style is unmistakable. He combines instruments in unique ways, twists conventional jazz forms into surprising new shapes and seasons it all with delicate touches of humour and irony”