The Westerlies are a New York based brass quartet comprised of childhood friends from Seattle, Washington: Riley Mulherkar and Chloe Rowlands 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 and projects 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 (Songlines), and a 2016 double-CD of primarily original compositions, The Westerlies (Songlines). Sought-after collaborators, The Westerlies are also featured on recordings by Fleet Foxes (Nonesuch), Vieux Farka Touré (Six Degrees Records), Common (Lakeshore) and Dave Douglas (Greenleaf). The group is currently developing an evening-length program in collaboration with Grammy-nominated vocalist and composer Theo Bleckmann, entitled Song of Refuge & Resistance.
The Westerlies’ 2018-19 season will include engagements at Seattle Pacific University, the Norton Center for the Arts, the Moore Theatre, Shenandoah University, Purdue University, the Oxford Performing Arts Center, Luther College, the Schubert Club, St. John’s University and the University of Washington. In addition, the ensemble is producing the first annual Westerlies Fest, September 20-23 in Seattle. Combining evening performances with daytime in-school concerts and a weekend creative music workshop, The Westerlies will reach over 1,000 students in Seattle and surrounding underserved areas to give back to the city that raised them.
Recent performances include the National Gallery of Art, the Cliburn, Mobile Chamber Music, Musical Masterworks Old Lyme, Joye in Aiken, and Delta State University, in addition to residencies at ClefWorks in Montgomery, Alabama, Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival, and Bay Chamber Concerts in Rockport, Maine. The ensemble was featured with Fleet Foxes at Coachella, the Hollywood Bowl, the Greek Theatre Berkeley, Red Rocks, the Newport Folk Festival, Merriweather Post Pavilion, the Santa Fe Opera, Outside Lands in San Francisco, Panorama New York City, and the Pitchfork Music Festival.
Educational and community engagement is a core element of The Westerlies' mission. Each season, the ensemble reaches thousands of students around the country with their innovative and inspiring assemblies and masterclasses.
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