Bar Utopia, premiered at the 1995 Bath Festival, is a 7 song meditation on the subject of Utopias, combining the intelligent and witty lyrics of the acclaimed author Helen Simpson, with some of Westbrook's most memorable writing. Described by the composer as a 'Big-Band Cabaret', BAR UTOPIA centres on the remarkable vocal duo of Kate Westbrook and John Winfield, together with a 19 piece ensemble that features some of Britain's foremost improvising musicians.
"The Mike Westbrook Orchestra (Bar Utopia) is a phenomenal band, and Westbrook himself a master of of jazz orchestration. He can suggest a carnival, a ballroom, or a greasy back street with a few cunningly placed notes. The full effect is awe inspiring."
A Quiet Eye
This album features June Tabor backed by members of the Creative Jazz Orchestra. Not strictly a jazz album this, but June in her finest voice with a selection of predominantly English material from both traditional and contemporary sources in settings ranging from solo to full ensemble with brass, reeds and strings. Musicians include Mark Bassey, Huw Warren, Andy Schofield and Iain Dixon among others.
"June Tabor's angelic voice marries perfectly with the gentle but sophisticated jazz arrangements of her accompanying band as they range through folk, jazz and contemporary material that's spine-tingling from beginning to end."
Escapade consolidates recent live work with the Octet, a bonded unit which boasts the presence of Mike Walker (guitar), Iain Dixon (assorted reeds) and Django Bates (concentrating on tenor horn rather than keyboards). The emphasis is increasingly placed on Arguelles as composer, fine-tuning a very distinctive writing style. The album's core is provided by five themed pieces originally commissioned by the Birmingham Jazz organisation, chewing over a band's life on the road. Julian has a way of combining delicate, painterly hues with charging unison themes, hummable after only a few airings.
"Escapade is a conspicuous triumph and indeed may just be the most distinguished British jazz album of the year."
Named as Jazz CD of 1999 by Independent on Sunday and the Birmingham Post, Skull View ranks as one of internationally renowned tenor saxophonist Julian Arguelles' finest moments. Continuing a successful relationship with the Babel Label which has already produced two award-winning albums, Skull View combines the energy and drive of Home Truths with the sound world evoked by Scapes.
"Its a sensational disc. Modern British jazz may not have had a finer moment."
Just One of Those Things
"An impressive debut album from this young singer. The female vocal scene has become quite crowded of late, but she has the style and personality to make a mark. Zakian can make a melody swing without beating it into submission first, and sings with a smile on her face - a pleasant relief after some of the doom-laden tones one hears so often these days. Her accompanying quartet features that excellent pianist Steve Melling and trombonist Mark Bassey, a superb, witty player and one to watch out for in the near future."
Introducing the Euro All Stars
“Renato is a superlative saxophonist with a passionate and poetic soul. He has all the virtues - a beautiful sense of time and pacing and a technique which effortlessly projects his brilliantly flowing ideas.”
Renato D’Aiello (as, ts)
Ingrid Laubrock is a member of the F-IRE Collective, a group of musicians that got together to work, share ideas, interests, contacts and to create a scene that's alive and forward thinking. F-IRE won the BBC Jazz Aaward for Innovation in 2004.
"She plays exquisitely and with an atmospheric sense of space and delay reminiscent of Lee Konitz."
"Her seamless negotiation of the soprano's different registers and admirable pitching of the high-end in particular, are deserving of much respect by punters and musos alike. I feel that she is among the top few on the instrument in Britain today...An auspicious CD by a fine saxophonist/composer with a multitude of stylistic avenues of expression."
Reunion (featuring Ian Carr & Michael Garrick)
"Don Rendell is a great restorer of faith in honest music. It seems sacriligeous even to suspect that throughout his professional career he has ever given less than 100 per cent of himself in a performance. The music on this CD demonstrates this quite explicitly."