Mike Westbrook & The Uncommon Orchestra

Legendary composer/pianist Westbrook and his 20-strong band came to the Deptford Albany to perform their album A Bigger Show, a melange of jazz, prog, theatre, chanson, poetry and music hall – and gave us one of the gigs of the year. The piece began with drummer Coach York laying down a groove which the others joined in with until the entire ensemble, including three singers and a second drummer, were in full, jubilant flow. Some of the best moments were duet spots, particular the ones involving York and fellow percussionist Theo Goss, tenor sax pair Alan Wakeman and Pete Whyman, guitarists Jesse Molins and Matt North and an extraordinary two-hander by Roz Harding on alto sax and sousaphonist Dave Holdsworth on pocket trumpet. There were also fine solo performances by singers Kate Westbrook – who also wrote the lyrics – Billy Bottle and Martine Walter.
It was a brilliant performance which bore favourable comparisons with Sun Ra or Carla Bley’s Escalator Over The Hill. But this was a lot more fun. 

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