Westbrook, Mike: Marching Song Vol. 2 (with Concert Band) LP

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London’s experimental jazz scene was given an unexpected boost in the mid-1960s, when the famed jazz club established at Soho’s Gerrard Street by esteemed trumpeter Ronnie Scott was served with an 18-month notice; before moving to its present location on Frith Street, Scott allowed the unfettered expressions of free jazz to be let loose, transforming the club’s regular playlists. Inspired by the excesses of the Brotherhood of Breath, the free-jazz big-band ensemble led by South African pianist, Chris McGregor, British jazz pianist Mike Westbrook began leading a big band of his own, their Monday night jam sessions leading to a range of material, issued on a series of sublime LPs by Deram. The two-volume anti-war epic, Marching Song, was released at the height of the Vietnam War in 1969; along with Westbrook’s subdued piano and subtle arrangements, featured musicians include trombonist Paul Rutherford, saxophonist Mike Osborne, South African bassist Harry Miller, plus guitarist Chris Spedding, who would shortly work with Jack Bruce, Pete Brown and a host of others, and enjoy a long and distinguished solo career. Vol 2 has eight instrumentals, including the lovely “Home,” which hints at South African influence, the startling audio dystopia of “Introduction,” plus the driving musical cacophony of “Tension,” making maximal uses of the big-band format.

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