Reference: FSRCD 890
Bar code: 8427328608909
Pianist Forrest Westbrook (1927-2014) has remained under the radar for years, not only for most jazz fans, but also for critics and many of his peers. Leslie Westbrook, Forrest’s eldest daughter, had this to say about his lack of fame: “My father was very modest, never promoted himself, and was very reluctant to record.”
The jazz world got an indication of what had largely escaped its notice during Westbrook’s life, when his dazzlingly accomplished and swinging piano emerged last year on a previously unissued, superb session with the late Carmell Jones, recorded during August 1960, when the great trumpeter was on the cusp of his early fame on the West Coast. Now, the impressive extent of Westbrook’s imaginative grasp, individuality and technical accomplishment is further confirmed with this release of more recordings from that era, featuring this truly remarkable pianist at the head of a trio completed by bassist Bill Plummer and drummer Maurice Miller, and leading on a quintet date with bassist Gary Peacock replacing Plummer and Bill Schwemmer in for Miller.
"Mention the name of Forrest Westbrook to even the most rabid jazz enthusiasts, and you are likely to receive only a blank stare. Westbrook was a relatively obscure jazz pianist from California who was never a household name, and was even unknown to most fans and players on the scene during his active years. He playing was mostly confined to small clubs in Southern California, and in private sessions in his home studio.
The liner notes to The Remarkable Forrest Westbrook relate his fascinating story, and the reasons that he remained an undeservedly obscure figure. Listening to his playing on the six extended tracks on this collection, it is remarkable that he flew so far under the radar for he had immense talent. His younger daughter, Leslie, is quoted in the notes as saying: “My father was very modest, never promoted himself, and was very reluctant to record.” It was only when he passed on in 2014 that his family discovered a collection of private tapes that eventually reached Jordi Pujol. He was taken with Westbrook’s artistry, and determined that some of this music deserved a wider hearing.
Here Westbrook is presented in a trio setting on five tracks, and in a quintet on the remaining track. Westbrook is described as remarkable in the title to this album, and one listen will convince you that this adjective is entirely appropriate, for he was a player of enormous originality and imagination. Dig him, and you will hope that there will be more of these sounds forthcoming."
Joe Lang, President of the New Jersey Jazz Society
Jersey Jazz Magazine (September, 2016)
Early this year I had the privilege of writing notes for Forrest Westbrook’s only album as a leader. The CD was released five-and-a-half decades after it was recorded and two years after the pianist’s death at 86. The album is bringing overdue notice to Westbrook, a quiet, almost secretive figure in the southern California jazz movement of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Standard journalism practice is for a writer never to promote a project in which he has been involved. So, report me to the Journalism Police, but it’s important that serious listeners know about Westbrook’s work. Therefore, my clever surreptitious ploy is to let fellow blogger Marc Myers carry the ball. With his customary accuracy, Marc describes Westbrook as remarkable. To see his coverage of the pianist’s album, go to his JazzWax blog.
June 6, 2016 by
"First, you’ve got to love his name; who was he, some character from a Jane Austin novel? No, pianist Forrest Westbrook was not a blue blood of the “North Hampshire Westbrooks,” but a swinger who actually played with the likes of Art Pepper and June Christy, taking part of the West Coast jazz scene. He eventually lived an obscure life, and died a couple of years ago, but he did leave a recording legacy, most notably a hip session with Carmell Jones (also reissued by Fresh Sound Records. But, it is this single disc of a trio and quintet that is gonna make you wonder why he wasn’t better known.
There are 6 songs of this disc; five of them come from a 1958 session with Bill Plummer/b and Maurice Miller from Westbrook’s home studio in Santa Monica. He’s got a creative touch and has some fun with an obscure “Buzzy” by Charlie Parker which has him do some intriguing soloing, while he stretches out in a lyrical yet relaxed form on “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” and the buoyant “In Your Own Sweet Way.” The team really stretches out with aplomb on a 12 minute canter of Cole Porter’s “I Love You” and gets fun and frisky on a hoot of “Shine On Harvest Moon.”
There’s also a single recording by Westbrook with a team of Dick Hurwitz/tp, Dave Madden/ts, Gary Peacock/b and Bill Schwemmer/dr on a swinging bopper of “Effa” and that’s about it for this guy that you wish you could have gotten to know better. This one’s a joy for piano trio fans; give it a try!"
George W. Harris (June 6, 2016)