The Westerlies – The Westerlies (2016) [Official Digital Download 24bit/192kHz]

The Westerlies – The Westerlies (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 01:13:42 minutes | 2,69 GB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Songlines

These four childhood friends from Seattle formed The Westerlies in New York in 2011. Following their critically acclaimed Wayne Horvitz tribute, Wish the Children Would Come On Home, this self-titled release is a double-disc set featuring 14 original compositions by all four band members, as well as pieces by Ellington and Ives and a British folk ballad arranged by Sam Amidon and Nico Muhly. The Westerlies bring together jazz, improvisational, classical and folk feels and approaches, reflecting their individual musical interests and sensibilities as well as their studies at Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music. The listener can hear each composer gently tugging the ensemble in the direction of his own taste, and the band follows, expressing their friendship through musical empathy.

As Andy Clausen explains: “For this project we very consciously wanted to take our time in the composition, workshopping and rehearsal of the music. We spent four weeks off the grid, spending eight, sometimes ten hours a day workshopping and rehearsing this music – which seems totally crazy and luxurious looking back. We wanted to go into the studio with as close to perfect technical mastery over these pieces as possible so the recording process could be more about experimentation and shaping the performances to be as expressive as possible.”

The high-res (24/192) recording is a collaboration with producer/engineer Jesse Lewis (Roomful of Teeth, Brooklyn Rider, Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma), and it pushes the expressive palette and sonic limits of this unusual instrumentation. Zubin Hensler acted co-producer: “Part of what first drew us to Jesse was his ability to produce recordings that sound perfectly polished while still full of life and complexity. He certainly did a fair amount of editing, but he was brilliant at pulling performances out of us in the studio that would make the editing fluid and musical… Our goal was to create a sort of sonic continuum with Chamber Music Blend on one side and Folk Music Intimacy on the other. Thus the massive number of mics – we essentially wanted to capture every possible angle so as to allow for extremely expressive mixing. There are definitely some techniques used at times that are not typical for chamber music or jazz albums, such as hard compression, dramatic reverb automation, delay, distortion, overdubs, but I think they were all used for expressive purposes that grew out of the compositions themselves. This is what excites me more than anything else about Jesse’s work – he accesses the creatively expressive studio techniques that are so common in popular music forms and harnesses them for use in more abstract art music. It’s brilliant.”

So this is not conservative music: it exudes warmth and beauty, with bursts of humor, surprise, and genuinely quirky attitude. As influences the Westerlies cite Kronos Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, Nico Muhly and Sam Amidon (“All is Well is very influential in the way that they approached drawing contemporary classical and experimental improvisation elements into a folk context.” – Zubin), Wayne Horvitz, Bill Frisell, Roomful of Teeth, Goat Rodeo, and American Brass Quintet. Zubin: “Those groups all have direct influence on us as a whole. But, additionally, we each have very distinct and sometimes contrasting influences that we each bring to the ensemble. Willem’s the only one who spent time as a classical trombone major in college, Andy has definitely studied the compositions of Third Stream far deeper than the rest of us, Riley performs classic jazz arrangements more than the rest of us, and I spend most of my non-Westerlies time in the experimental indie-pop/rock/electronic world. So I view our influences as a sort of Venn diagram, where some things intersect, but some are very unique.”

In another way the music is anchored in their shared experience of Seattle and New York. As Riley Mulherkar relates: “I think elements of the Northwest seep into everything we do, both in the spirit of the music (i.e. the uniquely Pacific Northwest character of “The Beach” and “Lopez”), and also more specifically in the artists and communities we take inspiration from – local mentors like Wayne Horvitz and Bill Frisell, the thriving improvised music scene, the jazz education programs. When we came together as a band in New York it was because of these shared values and communities, so it certainly finds its way into every note we play. New York is like no other place I know of in terms of its strength of community. This band formed as a result of a community we had in college – a small group of artists and students having dinner every Sunday in Zubin’s apartment – and today we continue to rely on and look to our New York communities for inspiration. The incredible new music scene led us to discovering Jesse Lewis, and the wealth of jazz in the city certainly influences the way I play and write – I first played “Where’s The Music?” with my band at Jazz at Lincoln Center before bringing it to The Westerlies. Then there’s also just the element of crazy in New York – the hustle and bustle of the city, the intensity of the people, and the urgency of every moment that infects every New York musician, whether they like it or not.”

Last word goes to Willem de Koch: “We’re a lighthearted group of guys and we try to let that come through in our music.”

01. The Westerlies – A Nearer Sun (02:38)
02. The Westerlies – So So Shy (04:21)
03. The Westerlies – New Berlin, New York (03:10)
04. The Westerlies – Saro (03:56)
05. The Westerlies – Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself (09:15)
06. The Westerlies – The Beekeeper (01:06)
07. The Westerlies – Where’s The Music? (03:17)
08. The Westerlies – Double Situation (03:55)
09. The Westerlies – Lopez (06:33)
10. The Westerlies – The Shop (05:07)
11. The Westerlies – The Beach (05:08)
12. The Westerlies – Rue des Rosiers (04:20)
13. The Westerlies – Run On Down (02:55)
14. The Westerlies – Edomala (03:08)
15. The Westerlies – Ruddy Ducker (07:25)
16. The Westerlies – Songs My Mother Taught Me (03:47)
17. The Westerlies – All to Ourselves (03:32)

Riley Mulherkar, trumpet
Zubin Hensler, trumpet
Andy Clausen, trombone
Willem de Koch, trombone


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