GIGS: Mike Westbrook Concert Band – March 1968, Camden Festival, London

March 27, 1968

GIGS: Mike Westbrook Concert Band – March 1968, Camden Festival, London. Reviewed in Jazz Journal 21/4 (April 1968): “The first London performance of Mike Westbrook’s ‘Marching Song’ took place at the Camden Festival in March. The two-hour work demonstrated just how much Westbrook has established an original technique, and how the Concert Band retains its position at the stylistic centre of a triumvirate of the most exciting young large ultra-modern jazz groups in the country, with the fierce Chris McGregor Big Band at one end and the more academic (but still exciting) Graham Collier Dozen at the other. Baritone and soprano saxophonist John Surman is a member of all three bands, and as well as contributing four of the themes of ‘Marching Song’ provided some of the best solo work of the evening, and was particularly forceful in duet with Mike Osborne. Other good moments came from the two trombonists (updated Ellingtonians with Roswell Rudd-like drive and perfect control in both ranges), Nisar Ahmed Khan (coming on like Booker Ervin during the R&B segment), the fine two bass team, Alan Jackson’s drumming (almost rendering the second drummer redundant), and the flugelhorn of Dave Holdsworth bringing the mood back beautifully to the ‘fifties. The piece itself spanned many moods, pastoral to martial, and reached a brilliant and exhilarating climax with a brass anthem scored against free reeds and rhythm, creating an effect of military band amongst joyous crowds. Personnel: Mike Westbrook (pno); John Surman (bari/sop/bs-clt); Mike Osborne (alt/clt); Bernie Living  (alt/flt); Nisar Ahmed Khan (ten/flt); Dave Holdsworth (tpt/fl-g); Mike Collins (tpt); Tom Bennellick (Fr-h); Malcolm Griffiths, Paul Rutherford (tbn); George Smith (tuba); Harry Miller, Dave Holland (bs); Alan Jackson, Dennis Smith (dm).”

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