Mike Westbrook – Love and Understanding: Citadel/Room 315 Sweden ’74 (Live)
By: Griff Stevens
On April 3, 2020, My Only Desire Records will release Love and Understanding: Citadel / Room 315 Sweden ’74’74 by Mike Westbrook. The original RCA recording of ”Citadel/Room 315” is an hour-long suite of eleven tracks, composed and arranged by Mike Westbrook and considered an influential recording for Brit-jazz in that era. Westbrook was initially commissioned by Sveriges (Swedish) Radio to create w work with John Surman as lead soloist. Westbrook traveled to Sweden to perform and conduct it for the first time, live in concert. A never before released recording until now, presents a contrastingly different record than the formally released and polished studio album. Remastered by Caspar at Gearbox Records from the original master tapes, ”Love and Understanding” will be released on a limited edition 2LP gatefold vinyl with only 500 units worldwide and a ”mini-LP” gatefold CD.
“Construction” engages a hypnotic guitar figure from Gustafsson as Johansen’s drums swirl into play. The jazz-rock feel is buoyant and driving. The counterpoint between the rhythm section players is accented by Gustafsson’s soloing. There is a touch of blues that catapults the music into a timeless sonic appeal, and that is why the music is still relevant today. The energy is pushed to a new level with Domnérus’ fast-paced solo and upper register wails. Westbrook’s electric piano can also be heard pushing the soloist to new heights. The sophistication in which these players listen and respond to each other is sublime.
“”Tender Love,”” as the title might suggest, is a ballad that is opened by pianist Hallberg’s beautiful sonorities. The woodwind melody is perfect for the added tenderness. The orchestra enters midway through for added impact and harmonic colors. The orchestration is inventive and still sounds as cutting edge today as it did in 1974. Westbrook’s compositions are moving, themed, and well-structured. There is always room for the various soloist to explore and express while the written passages add to the sonic tapestry.
Backed by the 16-piece Swedish Radio Jazz Group led by saxophonist Arne Domnérus and Argentinian trumpeter Americo Bellotto, the group comprised the finest players on the Swedish scene, including trumpeters Jan Allan and Bertil Lövgren, guitarist Rune Gustafsson, pianist Bengt Hallberg, and drummer Egil Johansen. The luminosity of this recording is evident throughout. Traversing from jazz-rock, ballads, to smartly composed orchestral themes while tethering on more avant-garde moments Love and Understanding: Citadel / Room 315 Sweden is a full immersion experience.
Release Date: April 3, 2020
Label: My Only Desire Records