This is the second edition reissued on the Swiss hatOLOGY record label. Originally released in 1986 for the now defunct hatART catalogue; pianist, arranger and bandleader Westbrook’s ingenuity radiates brilliantly here. And this album looms as one of the more successful third stream jazz ventures you’ll likely hear.
It’s a rather seamless endeavor marked by Westbrook’s acute interpretations of Italian composer Gioachino Antonio Rossini (1792-1868) famed four-act Opera, William Tell.
The septet fuses buoyant rhythmic episodes with ascending horns and fiery jazz-based solo jaunts, where the leader bridges the gap between austere classicism and progressive jazz. As contrasts and contrapuntal passages are in abundance amid the sublime parts and funked-up movements.
Westbrook tosses a few free-form interludes into the grand schema while contemporizing the opera, featuring arias by Kate Westbrook on three tracks and spirited passages by sopranino saxophonist Lindsay Cooper. On "William Tell Overture IV," the ensemble executes stark polytonal elements into the familiar, dawn of a new day theme that has been used ad infinitum by Hollywood film scorers and for TV ads. Here, Kate Westbrook summons the sunrise imagery via her calming piccolo phrasings offset by trombonist Andy Grappy’s wily lines.
The program contains stately thematic forays and jubilant passages, including the familiar cavalry theme where the band instills majestic jubilance and determination. Yet, the sum of the parts is often interspersed with solemn inferences and multi-tiered panoramas. More importantly, Westbrook’s masterpiece is timeless, which of course is an element that underscores the great classical works of yesteryear.