THE WESTERLIES

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 Kochon trombone. 

© Sasha Arutyunova 2014

Formed in 2011, the self-described “accidental brass quartet” take their name from the prevailing winds 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 Westerlies perform without sheet music, allowing a direct connection to the audience that is all too rare in the chamber music world. This is no homogenous chamber group, unified in its allegiance to the wishes of a composer. Every piece of music touched by The Westerlies reflects the unique sensibilities and personalities of these four individuals, in all their strengths and quirks. Their music exudes the warmth of their longstanding friendships and reflects the broad interests of the band members.

Recent engagements include The Newport Jazz Festival, Celebrate Brooklyn, New Music Bryant Park, The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at University of Maryland, 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. Active collaborators, The Westerlies have worked with artists in a variety of disciplines, including Vieux Farke Toure, Dave Douglas, Wayne Horvitz, Bill Frisell, Julia Easterlin, visual artist David Foarde, Cocoon Central Dance Team, Choreographer Garth Johnson, and Juilliard Dance. 

PRAISE FOR THE WESTERLIES:

“The Westerlies play this music clean as a whistle, with attention to detail born of long rehearsals. And they infuse the lyrical passages with deep feeling….The Westerlies represent a breed of musicians rare when Wayne Horvitz was coming up, skilled interpreters who are also adept improvisers. With such versatile and well-equipped performers around, composers can expand their reach and they may all wind up in places they might not have found on their own.”  - Kevin Whitehead, Fresh Air

“The Westerlies are an improvising brass quartet (two trumpets, two trombones) originally from Seattle and now located in New York. Their Horvitz interpretations convey a sense of sky and soil (not to mention the occasional circus or parade) that immediately calls to mind Aaron Copland, Bill Frisell, late-1950s Jimmy Giuffre, and maybe Brian Blade's Landmarks and Charles Ives. It's proof, if any be needed, that the same music can be both folk-like and composerly, lovely and intellectually rigorous. (Also my choice as 2014's best debut album.)”    - Francis Davis, NPR Music

“One of the more remarkable albums to cross my path this spring....an impressive feat from almost any angle...Take note of these players. You’ll be hearing more from them soon.” - Nate Chinen, JazzTimes

“You can’t take a 60-second sample at face value, you have to taste the whole pie to get at what’s inside. And what it is inside is no easy task to describe. Surface listening means you miss out on some rich details. Deeper listening means you may go a little crazy trying to mentally dissect the music. So, what to do? Pick your battles, because Wish the Children Would Come on Home: The Music of Wayne Horvitz means that the Westerlies have arrived and are facing a bright future.” - John Garratt, PopMatters

“Wish the Children Would Come on Home is a lot of things, but first and foremost it should be noted that it is just a lovely listen. It is that rare combination of approachable and unusual that can challenge listeners who want to be challenged and entertain those who don’t.” - Kurt Gottschalk, NYC Jazz Record

The Westerlies, Wish the Children Would Come On Home: A brass quartet that decided to embrace the strange and beautiful music of composer Wayne Horvitz. The Westerlies capture the alien warmth and touching soulfulness inherent in so much of Horvitz’s music, of a soundtrack orphaned from the movie conceived in dream and never put to film. Two on trumpet (Riley Mulherkar & Zubin Hensler) and two on trombone (Andy Clausen & Willem de Koch). An added bonus are the four improvisatory tracks, for which Wayne Horvitz himself performs on. Just a beautiful album. Highly Recommended.” - Dave Sumner, Wondering Sound

“The Westerlies are most certainly a fresh breeze in an often stagnant world.  "Wishing The Children Would Come On Home" is a delightful reminder of the wealth of fine music that Wayne Horvitz has created and continues to create.” - Richard Kamis