The Mike Westbrook Concert Band – tv broadcast

Recorded 20th August 1969, Ronnie Scott’s, London; broadcast on ‘Jazz Scene At The Ronnie Scott Club’ 1969 unissued

Kenny Wheeler, Ian Carr, Harry Beckett, Dave Holdsworth, trumpet; Malcolm Griffiths, Paul Rutherford, trombone; John Surman, Mike Osborne, Alan Skidmore, Bernie Living, John Warren, reeds; Mike Westbrook, piano; Chris Spedding, guitar; Harry Miller, Chris Laurence, double bass; Alan Jackson, John Marshall, drums; Ronnie Scott, master of ceremonies

Metropolis (Westbrook)

As with ‘Jazz At The Maltings’, almost no ‘Jazz Scene At The Ronnie Scott Club’ recordings are known to survive. Only two all are listed in the BBC programme catalogue, neither of which are this date.

GIGS

April 12, 1969

GIGS: April 12 1969 – Melody Maker Pollwinners Concert, Royal Festival Hall, London – Mike Westbrook Band, Ronnie Scott Band, Georgie Fame, Chris Pyne, Sandy Brown, Joe Harriott, John Surman, Harold McNair, Stan Tracey, Rendell-Carr, Ron Matthewson, Tony Oxley, Cleo Laine, John Dankworth Band, Tubby Hayes.

Barry McRae (Jazz Journal 22/5 May 1969) wrote: “The programme closed with the Mike Westbrook Concert Band. Their section started like the more disastrous Duke Ellington performances, with musicians returning from the bar throughout the first five minutes. Musically they settled quickly and there were excellent solos from Paul Rutherford, Malcolm Griffiths and John Surman (on soprano). Westbrook himself sang I’m Old Fashioned in a hilarious parody of 1940s pop and shocked one of the most unresponsive audiences I have ever seen, even at the RFH. Many walked out and almost all who remained sat in stoney-faced amazement. The band’s continuous performance made its usual use of a sterling march theme, which was gradually broken down into the flowing rhythms of the new jazz and so became the cushion on which Surman’s fiery soprano rested. It represented the high-spot of the evening but there had been disappointingly few others with which to compare it.”

The Mike Westbrook Concert Band – ‘Marching Song’

recorded March 31, April 1 & 10, 1969, London Deram SML 1047 and SML 1048 (UK) [LP], Deram MWB S-1 (USA) [2LP], Deram 844853-2 (UK) [2CD]

Dave Holdsworth, Kenny Wheeler, trumpet, fluegelhorn; Greg Bowen, Tony Fisher, Henry Lowther, Ronnie Hughes, trumpet; Malcolm Griffiths, Paul Rutherford, Mike Gibbs, Eddie Harvey, trombone; Tom Bennellick, french horn; Martin Fry, George Smith, tuba; Mike Osborne, alto saxophone, clarinet; Bernie Living, alto saxophone, flute; Alan Skidmore, tenor saxophone, flute; Nisar Ahmad Khan, Brian Smith, tenor saxophone; John Surman, baritone and soprano saxophones; John Warren, alto and baritone saxophones, flute; Mike Westbrook, piano; Harry Miller, Barre Phillips, Chris Laurence, bass; Alan Jackson, John Marshall, drums

Hooray! (Westbrook) 6:24

Landscape (Westbrook) 15:28

Waltz (Westbrook) 5:54

Landscape (II) (Westbrook) 8:00

Other World (Westbrook) 9:35

Marching Song (Westbrook) 3:02


Transition (Westbrook) 3:01

Home (Westbrook) 9:44

Rosie (Westbrook) 6:36

Prelude (Surman) 4:43

Tension (Surman) 4:38

Introduction/Ballad (Westbrook) 8:23

Conflict (Westbrook) 9:43

Requiem (Westbrook) 1:53

Tarnished (Surman) 5:58

Memorial (Westbrook) 2:18

The original UK edition was two LPs issued separately as Volume 1 and Volume 2. The USA edition and the CD reissue have both volumes in one package. Jazz Journal review; pre-release advert here

Gigs

December 23, 1968

Mike Westbrook Concert Band – 13 December 1968, London Jazz Centre Society, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square; reviewed by Fred Bouchard in Jazz Journal 22/2 (February 1969): “The third of six projected concerts in Red Lion Square, WC1, presented by the London Jazz Centre Society under the collective title ‘Jazz Is Alive And Well’ (contrary, one suspects, to popular opinion,) was surrendered to the Mike Westbrook Concert Band – a rampaging, frowsy tentette who were very much alive and kicking. The pieces presented (this reviewer caught the second set only) were puzzling pastiches of simple, effective big-band choruses mixed jarringly with vast, fuzzy, multi-improvisational passages. The traditional ensemble work, blown direct and clean, frankly emulated familiar sounds: the saxes in particular sounded like Ellington (John Surman can do a good Harry Carney) or Basie (Mike Osborne makes a tight-lipped Marshall Royal.) Flying Home, superimposed logically and cleverly on Opus One, was pelted out in slap-dash Mingus fashion, with arresting tempo changes. The less derivative group sketchings, however, clung hard and fast to the other extreme: out-of-pitch duets, inchoate free blowing, slow-fuse crescendo roars – sometimes with leg-pulling private joke effect – whatever coherence of which was further mutilated by the spelean acoustics of Conway Hall. Thus the oil-and-water schizophrenia of the band’s music – not a mature finished chart in the lot.

Straddling and unifying the tried-and-true and flimsy-shimsy were the individual solo efforts, a very different matter. All horns (but one) acquitted themselves adequately, in some cases admirably. John Surman conjured up late Tintoretto – dark, writhing, bigger than life. He soloed with passion and no end of ideas, displaying enormous energy and facility on baritone as well as soprano sax. Malcolm Griffiths delivered an adept, gritty trombone chunk on Home/Opus that really got under the skin of the thing. The same piece had Dave Holdsworth, who, as the lone trumpet, had to spread himself thin to provide a roof for his six comperes on horns, take his turn with brittle gusto over some sharp drumming by Alan Jackson.

There was a refreshing variety in the solo styles: Alan Skidmore (tenor) favoured a glancing, cadenze-like approach, while Bernie Living (flute and alto with pitch problems on both) brought down his phrases with a shotgun. A foil to both was the cleanly-sculpted alto-work of Mike Osborne, who treated the folks to some healthy Oliver-Nelson-ish  stuff toward the end of the evening. The rhythm played with assurance and drive, sustaining soloists consistently through long ensemble tacets and prodding them through riffs. Westbrook, who has a strong arranger’s keyboard approach, should allow himself some solo space, rather than tasteless, spoofing vocals, like the bitter and dreary treatment of I’m Old Fashioned.

This band fortunately doesn’t inhibit itself with fustian academics and pussy-footing (as plied, for example, by their predecessors in the Conway series, the New Jazz Orchestra,) and so it can collectively foment exciting and infectious moments, particularly riffing behind key soloists. Yet neither does it supply itself with the meaty, original arrangements necessary to fully exploit and direct the obvious creative powers of its members. It’s like a big, happy, irresponsible bloke with no ties and an identity problem. Too much licence makes its own straightjacket.”

Ronnie Scott and The Band – 23 December 1968 three week residency at Ronnie Scott’s Club with John Hendricks

Gigs

October 23, 1968

GIGS: Scott Walker – 4 October to 20 October 1968. Scott Walker’s backing on his 17-day UK tour was Ronnie Scott & The Band with additional members including Terry Smith (guitar) and (possibly) Tubby Hayes;

John Surman Trio – 11 October, London Jazz Centre Society, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square;

Ronnie Scott & The Band – 21 October, one week residency at Ronnie Scott’s club (see album entry below);

Mike Westbrook Concert Band, Ronnie Scott & The Band – 23 October, Jazz Expo ’68, Hammersmith Odeon, London. Jazz Expo ’68 reviewed by Barry McRae in Jazz Journal 21/12 (December 1968): “This year’s British contribution was larger than last and gave reason for continued optimism. I missed the Rendell-Carr set and thought that honours were divided between the Ronnie Scott Band and the Mike Westbrook Concert Band. Scott’s, the more confident and the more carefully arranged, offered fine solo work by Kenny Wheeler, John Surman, Ray Warleigh and the leader himself. The style might be described as mid-Atlantic hard bop with modern overtones but the result was stimulating.

Westbrook’s policy is more advanced and slightly more ambitious. At Expo, however, the band was not at its best. There seemed to be an air of nervousness amongst them and only the ubiquitous Surman and trombonist Malcolm Griffiths came near to their normal form. The collective passages by the band were good and a Shepp-like atmosphere created, as the moods were quickly changed – moving away from an r&b type stomp or tasteful balladeering by altoist Mike Osborn, to a raving flying home.”

Steve Voce reviewed Ronnie Scott & The Band in the same issue: “When it was announced I looked forward to Ronnie’s new band (with Kenny Wheeler, John Surman and Ray Warleigh), but suspected the idea of Tony Oxley and Tony Crombie on drums… I first heard the band on BBC 2 when it suffered the disadvantage of having to play a Glenn Miller number (to tie in with the Glenn Miller film which had just been shown). The noise was suitably daunting, primarily because I had been expecting the group to produce merely an up-dated version of earlier Scott band sounds. In the event Scott had given the younger musicians their head, with the result that the sound was undigestible at one brief hearing. However, reports say that, with reservations about the two drummers, the band is exciting and purposeful.”

Gigs

August 19, 1968

GIGS: Mike Westbrook Band – 16 August 1968, Harrogate Jazz Festival. Ronnie Scott & The Band – 19 August 1968, Ronnie Scott’s Club, for four weeks

Gigs

August 10, 1968

Mike Westbrook Band – 10 August 1968, 8th National Jazz & Blues Festival, Kempton Park Racecourse, Sunbury-on-Thames. Reviewed by Dave Illingworth in Jazz Journal 21/9 (September 1968): “The Saturday afternoon programme was devoted to jazz, with the Mike Westbrook Band opening up with an abbreviated version of a suite entitled ‘Release’. This was a dig at pop music, (taking in Flying Home and Mama Too Tight on the way) during the course of which the band out-rocked all other comers, thanks to the drive of Alan Jackson, the trombones and saxes. The idea of the suite may have been a tongue-in-cheek one, but proved as Shepp and Mingus have done before, that hard blowing over tough R&B backing can be an exciting prospect.” Westbrook (pno); Dave Holdsworth (tpt/flg-h); Paul Rutherford, Malcolm Griffiths (tbn); John Surman (bari/sop); Mike Osborne (alt); Bernie Living (alt); Nisar Ahmed Khan (ten); Harry Miller (bs); Alan Jackson (dm).

Recorded August 7 & 9, 1968, London. Deram SML 1031 (UK) [LP], Deram 844851-2 (UK) [CD]

Dave Holdsworth, trumpet, flugelhorn; Malcolm Griffiths, Paul Rutherford, trombone; Mike Osborne, Bernie Living, alto saxophone; Nisar Ahmad Khan, tenor saxophone; John Surman, baritone saxophone; Mike Westbrook, piano; Harry Miller, bass; Alan Jackson, drums

The Few (I) (Westbrook) 4:51

Lover Man (Davis/Ramirez/Sherman) 1:10

For Ever And A Day (Westbrook) 2:45

We Salute You! (Westbrook) 0:54

The Few (II) (Westbrook) 1:49

Folk Song (I) (Westbrook) 3:04

Flying Home (Goodman/Hampton/Robin) 4:19

Sugar (Mitchell/Alexander/Pinkard) 2:22

A Life of Its Own (Westbrook) 3:38

Take Me Back (I) (Westbrook) 3:19

Rosie (Westbrook) 6:47

Who’s Who (Westbrook) 2:57

Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You (Redman/Razaf) 1:13

Can’t Get It Out Of My Mind (Westbrook) 4:20

The Girl From Ipanema (Jobim/de Moraes/Gimbel) 2:57

Folk Song (II) (Westbrook) 2:19

Take Me Back (II) (Westbrook) 1:05

Jazz Journal review; a contemporary advert for this album. In Jazz Journal 22/5 (May 1969), Steve Voce wrote: “One of the most shattering experiences in what has been perhaps a well-shattered life in jazz occurred some years ago. The location, rather prosaically, was the Padgate Teacher-Training College and, equally prosaically, the event was an afternoon jazz concert to be given by a band made up of teenagers. I had never heard of them before and assumed with ignorant condescension that they would be inept and terrible. The case proved to be quite the reverse, and I was so shaken by the prodigious talents of the young men concerned that even the dozen or so pre-breathalizer pints that I hastily shifted afterwards didn’t restore my equilibrium. During the evening the band played for dancing and stormed with prodigious drive through a number of swing era standards.

That the band concerned can still produce and indeed amplify the best swinging from the earlier days is proved in Mike Westbrook’s latest LP, where Flying Home, for instance, is played with an intensity that makes the Hampton versions sound like teatime with Donald Peers.

The Westbrook band which, since days before that Padgate concert, has always had a remarkable team of soloists and arrangers, was perhaps the first of a powerful English movement now headed by various bands led by Mike Gibbs, Graham Collier, Neil Ardley, John Surman and of course Westbrook himself. The movement has also brought to light equally creative young men like Michael Garrick and guitarist Louis Stewart. It is gratifying to see a musical fusion taking place also between these younger men and some of the more established people like Ronnie Scott, Humphrey Lyttelton and Tubby Hayes.”

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).”


Recorded July 29 & August 5, 1967, London. Deram SML 1013 (UK) [LP], Deram 844852-2 (UK) [CD].

Dave Holdsworth, trumpet, flugelhorn; Dave Perrottet, valve trombone; Malcolm Griffiths, trombone; Tom Bennellick, French horn; George Smith, tuba; Mike Osborne, alto saxophone; Bernie Living, alto saxophone, flute; Dave Chambers, tenor saxophone, clarinet; John Surman, baritone and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet; Mike Westbrook, piano; Harry Miller, bass; Alan Jackson, drums

Pastoral (Westbrook) 2:42

Awakening (Surman) 6:02

Parade (westbrook) 4:30

Echoes And Heroics (Westbrook) 8:17

A Greeting (Westbrook) 5:43

Image (Surman) 6:38

Dirge (Surman) 4:16

Portrait (Westbrook) 7:33

celebration

Jazz Journal review:

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