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Kate Westbrook

Primary Instrument: Vocalist

Born: September 18    

Kate Westbrook

Kate Westbrook was born in Britain but spent much of her childhood in the USA and Canada. Educated at Dartington Hall School, in Devon. Kate went on to study Fine Art at Bath Academy of Art, Corsham, and at Reading University, before returning to live and work on the East and West coasts of America, and travelling in Mexico. The first solo show of her paintings was at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California, in 1963. On returning to the UK she continued to exhibit her work and she taught at Leeds College of Art, at that time in the forefront of experimental theatre and performance art. Kate's musical career began in the mid '70s when she joined the Mike Westbrook Brass Band, and gave up teaching to concentrate on the dual career of painter and musician....
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Once again, one was struck by the unique talent and incisive charm of the singer. Singer? Hardly word enough to describe an entertainer musician who knows as no-one else how to change words into notes, an all-round comedienne who uses her voice infallibly with a poetic sense of the dramatic, a multi-lingual singer (she is equally at home singing in French, German and Italian as well as English) who takes the stage with a radiant ease, much grace, humour and sensuality in all aspects of song. The exquisite Kate...

Pascai Anquetil Monde De La Musique

CUFF CLOUT REVIEW British vocalist Kate Westbrook has a gift for music theater. Updating early 20th-century English music hall on Cuff Clout, Westbrook sets her witty and eccentric texts to bold and fascinating genre-crossing music composed by eight collaborators, including her bandleader husband Mike Westbrook and other Anglo jazz worthies Chris Biscoe, Lindsay Cooper and Barbara Thompson.

Maintaining a wicked edginess in her rich, limber voice, she skewers the memory of the millionaire inventor of barbed wire on “Glidden” and plumbs a gloomy, stately mood on the striking piano-and-voice ballad “My Lazy Goodheart,” where her emotional timbre suggests blood ties to Marianne Faithfull. John Winfield is one hell of a lead singer, too, playing the part of a jailbird's confederate to the hilt in “Toad's Washerwoman” and wrenching cryptic meaning out of the words to “The Riddle.”

Together, Westbrook and Winfield embark on a cosmic journey singing the terrifically daft “Oceans, Straits, Currents & Seas”- think Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, Lord Byron and private eye John Shaft sharing a pickle jar full of LSD.

Kate's Skirmishers band performs with a deft touch, whether sounding like an old strip joint combo on “Toad's Washerwoman” or enshrouding “One Cezanne Apple” with a Third Stream funereal air. Getting comfortable with Westbrook's “neoteric music hall” may take some work but it's worth it.

Frank-John Hadley - Downbeat

  • The Nijinska Chamber

    Femme Music
    2006
  • Cuff Clout: A Neoteric Music Hall

    Femme Music
    1994
  • Goodbye Peter Lorre

    Femme Music
    1991

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