The first album that the brass quartet known as the Westerlies recorded was an album of Wayne Horvitz compositions. And though I appreciate all of Mr. Horvitz’s contributions to western music, the Westerlies’ eponymous sophomore double album sounds like a more confident move on their part.
The Westerlies is one of those double albums that didn’t need to be one—the combined running time of the two CDs is not quite 74 minutes. But broken apart with nine songs on one disc and eight on another, it looks impressive. Of the 17 songs, all but three were written by a member of the group.
Stylistically, The Westerlies take their approach to expressive boiling points with rubato and fragile inhalations amongst the staggered breathing. Picking a centerpiece is like hitting a moving target, though. Is it the Ellington cover? The Charles Ives selection? The song that goes on for more than nine minutes? “Pretty Saro”? With 17 songs, you should have a fun time trying to figure that one out yourself.
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