JJ 05/73: Mike Westbrook – Live

Fifty years ago, Barry McRae thought the 'underground pop' on Westbrook's latest album made the disc difficult to review in a jazz magazine. First published in Jazz Journal May 1973


This is a very difficult record for me to review because much of it falls out­side the scope of this magazine. Com­passion is a very fine spatial exercise in which no explicit pulse is stated. The various collective lines interact and the outcome is one of those Andrew Hill-type pieces that meanders beautifully but never arrives.

Hyde Park Song is another of those gentle themes that Westbrook writes so well and which his sidemen play with distinction. Khan more than upholds the tradition with a well constructed solo of considerable delicacy.

The remainder belongs to the world of underground pop, and Down On The Farm, in particular, rapidly degenerates into the type of long guitar solo that has become so prevalent in this style. It is devoid of logical development beyond rudinentary levels and has no instanta­neous appeal to compensate.

For a man of Westbrook’s undoubted talent this must be rated as a failure although I have a sneaking suspicion that it might sell rather well. Readers of this journal will return to ‘Metropolis’, Release’ or ‘Love Songs’ for the real M.W.

Travellin’; Compassion; Down On The Farm (34¾ min) – Pleasure City; Hyde Park Song (23¾ min)
George Khan (varit. ten); Gary Boyle (gtr); Mike Westbrook (el-pno/hmca); Butch Potter (bs-gtr/pongo/flt); Alan Jackson (alt/dm). Tavistock/London 15/1/72-23/2/72.
(Cadillac SGC 1001 £1.50)