Born: September 18 Primary Instrument: Vocal
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.
Kate has toured widely throughout Europe, and as far afield as Canada, Australia and the Far East. She has broadcast on radio and TV and has recorded more than 20 albums. Her vocal range embraces Contemporary Music, Opera, Music Hall, as well as Jazz and Popular Song. She has sung the role of Anna in The Seven Deadly Sins by Brecht and Weill with the London Symphony Orchestra, arias by Rossini with the Mike Westbrook Orchestra in Big Band Rossini at the BBC Proms, and songs by the Beatles with the Westbrook Band in Off Abbey Road. With fellow vocalist Phil Minton Kate has sung the poetry of William Blake ( Mike Westbrook’s settings) in many countries and on two albums Bright as Fire (1980) and Glad Day (1997) She multi-tracked most of the roles in the television opera Good Friday 1663 (with libretto by Helen Simpson), now released on Jazzprint. In the Contemporary Music field, Kate has performed Frederic Rzewski’s Coming Together and premiered Phil Clark’s All The Rage. Kate was a featured soloist in the first performance of Michael Finnissy's The Transgressive Gospel in the 2009 Spitalfields Festival.
In her recording project Cuff Clout, (Voiceprint) a neoteric music-hall, performed by her group The Skirmishers, featuring vocalist John Winfield, Kate's lyrics are set by eight composers from the worlds of pop, rock, jazz and classical music. On her solo album Goodbye Peter Lorre (also Voiceprint) she is accompanied by pianists John Alley and Mike Westbrook and the vocal group Fine Trash. Other albums include Music For Other Occasions with Lindsay Cooper and the Duo album, Love Or Infatuation with Mike Westbrook, based on the Hollywood Songs of Frederich Hollaender.
On Her latest album for Voiceprint The Nijinska Chamber a celebration of the life and work of the dancer and choreographer Bronislava Nijinska , with music by Mike Westbrook, Kate is joined by accordionist Karen Street.
Kate sings in Italian, French and German. She was guest soloist in a series of performances in the Christus Pavillon at the Expo 2000, Hannover, in a work by composer Heribert Leuchter, KlangWeltReligion. In 2002 she collaborated with Heribert on a music-theatre piece, Reich durch Arm, commissioned by WDR, and premiered in Aachen. Kate makes a guest appearance on Leuchter's new Trio album Reset.
Kate Westbrook's work as a lyricist has encompassed everything from cabaret songs to opera. She wrote book and lyrics for the music theatre piece Platterback, performed by Westbrook & Company. and the Westbrook Trio's 20th anniversary album L'ascenseur / The Lift (both on Jazzprint). Also for the current Westbrook project ART WOLF, based on the life and work of the Alpine painter Caspar Wolf (1735 - 83) released on the Swiss label altrisuoni. She has co-written two works for voice and brass sextet, which she performs with the recently formed Mike Westbrook Village Band, Waxeywork Show (CD on jazzprint) and, the latest, English Soup, or the Battle of the Classic Trifle.
Kate wrote texts for Chanson Irresponsable (Enja Records), one of many collaborations with Mike Westbrook, which include settings of European poetry, as do such concert works as The Cortege and London Bridge is Broken Down. She wrote the libretto for their opera Jago, and Turner in Uri, a celebration of the painter JMW Turner's travels in the Alps, commissioned by the 2003 Alpentoene Festival. The Westbrooks' one-woman opera CAPE GLOSS, Mathilda's Story, for soprano Marie Vassilliou, commissioned by NOC, was premiered in Plymouth in February 2007.
Kate Westbrook is currently appearing in the revival of Off Abbey Road. She regularly performs in Duo with Mike Westbrook, and with ART WOLF in a quartet with Mike Westbrook and saxophonists Chris Biscoe and Pete Whyman.
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