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Citadel/Room 315

Artist: Mike Westbrook

Date of Release: 03/04/2006

Catalogue no: 779

Label: Sony BMG

Price: £11.99

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Track Listing

No

 

Title

Duration

1

 

Overture

2

 

Construction

3

 

Pistache

4

 

View From The Drawbridge

5

 

Love And Understanding

6

 

Tender Love

7

 

Bebop De Riguer

8

 

Pastorale

9

 

Sleepwalker Awakening In Sunlight

10

 

Outgoing Song

11

 

Finale

 

 

 

 

Appearances by

Alan Wakeman, Henry Lowther, John Surman, Kenny Wheeler


Hear sound samples on the Westbrookjazz Website

Mike Westbrook's classic 1975 album featuring John Surman.

Mike Westbrook: MD
Electric Piano (2,4,5)

John Surman: Baritone & Soprano Saxes, Bass Clarinet

Nigel Carter, Derek Healey, Henry Lowther, Kenny Wheeler:
Trumpet, Flugelhorn

Malcolm Griffiths: Trombone
Paul Rutherford: Trombone, Euphonium
Geoff Perkins: Bass Trombone (2,3,7)
Alf Reece: Bass Trombone (1,4,5,6,8,9,10,11)

Mike Page: Alto Sax, Flute, Bass Clarinet
Alan Wakeman: Tenor & Soprano Sax, Clarinet
John Holbrooke: Tenor Sax, Flute
John Warren: Baritone Sax, Flute

Dave MacRae: Piano, Electric Piano (2,8,9,10)
Brian Godding: Guitar
Chris Laurence: Bass, Bass Guitar
Alan Jackson: Drums
John Mitchell: Percussion

 

Reviews

 

01/06/2006 Jazzwise - Duncan Heining

This is the record from his early career of which Westie is most proud. I'd certainly want to make a strong case for the marvellous Marching Song, a great piece of anti-war art, let alone a fabulous record. But considered as a complete and coherent suite of music, Mike's point is well made. Citadel is the real deal , a summation of knowledge, experience and vision coupled possibly with a sense of a new beginning and the achievement of closure with the past. It would also be the last record that he would make with long term collaborator John Surman, who is featured soloist here.

Though there are some lovely solo contributions - from Brian Godding on the second track 'Construction' and Henry Lowther brilliant on the charming 'Pastorale', in particular, it is Surman and pianist MacRae, who leave the lasting impression. That's partly due to the solo space they're given but also from their obvious insight into the composer's intentions. MacRae, now back in Sydney, was one of the most underrated pianists of the period despite gigs with Westbrook, Nucleus and Mike Gibbs. From the opening piano statement on 'Overture' to his final solo on 'Sleepwalker Awakening In Sunlight', MacRae confirms himself as one of the finest jazz-rock keyboard players. As for Surman, whether playing baritone and bass clarinet on the sublime 'View From The Drawbridge' or with echo-laden soprano on 'Construction' and 'Tender Love' , the man is extraordinary. The ensembles glisten and roar and the sound is pristine. There's some of Mike's most beautiful themes packed into 60 pulsing, riveting minutes. 'Pastorale' and 'Outgoing Song' are stone delights but 'View From The Drawbridge' ranks as one of the all time greats. This record seems to grow in stature every time yo play it. It's as fresh and relevant today, as when it was recorded.

 

20/12/1975 New Musical Express

He uses his vastly talented orchestra to enhance the soloist. Dig the way they rise under the clear soprano of John Surman to flesh out his note on "Tender Love" - or alternatively, how the Surman baritone rises like Krakatoa through the section on "Outgoing", echo effects like seismic faults running to crack your wig.

Surman is a titan, but there are grabbers aplenty on this album. Henry Lowther cuts like a lancet, his trumpet always exactly right, straight in straight out. Alan Wakeman's tenor has always knocked me down: cop his bullying tear-up on Pastorale. Has to be my big band record of the year.

 

01/10/1975 Gramophone - Teddy Wilson

This latest work by composer Mike Westbrook was commissioned by Swedish Radio and first performed in Stockholm in March' of last year. It was given its premiere in Britain at the Camden Festival the following September and in March of this year RCA recorded the entire work on two consecutive days. As far as I am concerned it is Westbrook's finest achievement so far, praise indeed for the man who has already given us "Marching Song" and "Metropolis". Closing my review of the latter I wrote "'Metropolis' is a work which even the composer is going to find hard to better". Where "Citadel/Room315" score over previous Westbrook writings is the greater sense of unity in both composition and perfOrmance and secondly the presence of John Surman on eight of the eleven sections.

Surman and Westbrook played together in a jazz workshop in Plymouth Arts Centre before forming a sextet about a dozen years ago which also contained
Malcolm Griffiths and Alan Jackson, both of whom have been on virtually every Westbrook album to date. Now that I have heard this LP a few times I find it hard to believe that "Citadel/Room 315" could exist, without Surman, so important is his presence here. (Yet Westbrook has performed this work in public without Surman. Unfortunately I did not attend the concert in question so I cannot judge the effect.) On baritone, soprano and bass-clarinet John Surman's playing is world class. At the end of his solo on View from the drawbridge he flutters the keys of his baritone, allowing the notes to die away in the instrument. This strongly emotional effect evokes memories of both Bobby Wellins's tenor ("Under Milk Wood") and the late Serge Chaloff's strongly charged Body and soul (Capitol, unissued in Britain). And on Tender love the Surman soprano creates sheer poetry. But it is a perfect marriage of composer and performer and Westbrook, like Gustav Holst and Duke Ellington to name two comparativdy random examples - seem to have the ability to conceive an entire work as a whole and, more important, commit it all to stave lines so that the sounds made by sixteen instrumentalists match his conception. Make no mistake, this is music of significance in more ways than one.

It is essentially a European music using the vocabulary of jazz but less dependent on American influences than most British-produced jazz. Westbrook draws from a wide palette and is not afraid to acknowledge his likes. At the end of Bebop de rigueur the sax section comes on like an Ellington reed team playing a Benny Carter arrangement yet the overall concept is Westbrook's and no one elses. And if there are still any readers who shy away from the brilliant music now being made by this coterie of local men please, please make a point of hearing Henry Lowther's flugel horn over Mike Westbrook's writing on the extended Pastorale. Music as beautiful as this must be heard by anyone professing an interest in jazz.

 

01/07/1975 Jazz Journal

This is an excellent album that once again confirms that there is nothing that Westbrook does better than arrange for big band playing his own compositions. Citadel/Room 315 follows in the tradition of Release, Marching Song and Metropolis and is a fine major work. The choice of sidemen is good and the most featured soloist, John Surman plays with characteristic authority. One might single out his plainive soprano on Tender Love or his poweful baritone on Outgoing Song but he plays well throughout.

 

06/10/1974 Sunday Times - Derek Jewell

So panoramic is his style, so many his influences, that one moment I was reminded of Bach, then of Ellington, then of Kenton. Westbrook has absorbed just about everything good in American music this century and, spicing it with his own idiosyncrasies, produces swinging, zestful, imaginative scores seized upon with joy by his musicians.

 

30/09/1974 Guardian

The opening of Citadel/Room 315 immediately took one back to to the great days of Metropolis and to the last time when John Surman worked regularly with Westbrook. The rock rhythms were flexible as well as heavy and Surman's soprano saxophone rode thrillingly over the top providing that special kind of surging excitement that a Westbrook band alone conjurs up.

 

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