THE WESTERLIES

LARA ST. JOHN

The Westerlies are a New York-based brass quartet comprised of four childhood friends from Seattle, Washington: Riley Mulherkar and Zubin Hensler on trumpet, and Andy Clausen and Willem de Koch on trombone.

Formed in 2011, the self-described “accidental brass quartet” takes its name from the prevailing winds that travel from the West to the East. “Skilled interpreters who are also adept improvisers” (NPR’s Fresh Air), The Westerlies explore jazz, roots, and chamber music influences to create the rarest of hybrids: music that is both "folk-like and composerly, lovely and intellectually rigorous” (NPR Music). Equally at home in concert halls and living rooms, The Westerlies navigate a wide array of venues with the precision of a string quartet, the audacity of a rock band, and the charm of a family sing-along.

The ensemble has produced two critically acclaimed albums of genre-defying chamber music: its 2014 debut, Wish the Children Would Come On Home: The Music of Wayne Horvitz, and a 2016 double-CD of primarily original compositions, The Westerlies. Sought-after collaborators, The Westerlies are also featured on recordings by Fleet Foxes (Nonesuch), Vieux Farke Toure (Six Degrees Records), and Dave Douglas (Greenleaf).

The Westerlies’ 2017-18 season includes featured performances at Musical Masterworks (New Lyme, CT); Clefworks (Montgomery, AL);  Mobile Chamber Music (Mobile, AL); Joye in Aiken (Aiken, SC); Bologna Performing Arts Center (Cleveland, MS) and The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.  The ensemble will continue its residency work in Kenner, LA through the Chamber Music Association/National Endowment for the Arts supported Sound Places Project. It will also complete residencies at the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival (San Juan Islands, WA) and Yellowbarn Music Center (Putney, VT). In addition, the ensemble joins indie folk band Fleet Foxes for select US tour dates at the Newport Folk Festival, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Celebrate Brooklyn, Outside Lands San Francisco, Hollywood Bowl, Santa Fe Opera, and Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

The Westerlies’ latest concert program, Songs We Sung: American Vocal Music of the 20th Century,  traces the sound of the 20th Century through a variety of American vocal traditions. From the songs of Charles Ives to the spirituals of the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet, The Westerlies draw a line through jazz, classical, and folk languages.

This season will also mark the release of several new recordings: Little Giant Still Life, a collaborative album with pioneering jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas and drummer Anwar Marshall, and a new series of collaborative video singles with vocalists Theo Bleckmann, Robin Holcomb, Kate Davis, and Vuyo Sotashe.

Concert highlights from recent seasons include The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at University of Maryland, Caramoor, Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival, The Newport Jazz Festival, SFJAZZ Center,  Syracuse Friends Of Chamber Music, The John G. Shedd Institute, New Music Bryant Park, NYU Skirball Center, Cooper Hewitt Museum, The New School, The Juilliard School, Seattle Symphony, The Festival of New Trumpet Music, Juilliard in Aiken Festival, Music in the Mountains (Durango, CO), Vancouver Jazz Festival, Roulette, Constellation Chicago, Seattle Art Museum, and Earshot Jazz Festival.

The Westerlies are frequently invited to engage in educational and community outreach. They have presented masterclasses at The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Yale, New York University, University of Maryland, University of Nevada Reno, University of Washington, START Osceola County, and Seattle Jazz Ed.

 


...the New York City-based, Seattle-born brass band occupies a lively territory between jazz, Steven Foster-styled folk and chamber music with bracing melodies and, crucially, an undeniable sense of fun.
— Chris Barton, LA Times