The Westerlies

The Westerlies


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The Westerlies is a Double Album from Songlines Recordings. This self-titled release features 14 original compositions by all four band members, as well as pieces by Duke Ellington and Ives and a British folk ballad arranged by Sam Amidon and Nico Muhly.

This Double Album is Exclusively Available in Stereo DSD 512, DSD 256, DSD 128 and DSD 64 at NativeDSD thanks to our signature Higher Rates Program.

Four childhood friends from Seattle formed the brass quartet The Westerlies in New York in 2011. The Westerlies bring together jazz, improvisational, classical and folk feels and approaches, reflecting their individual musical interests and sensibilities as well as their studies at Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music. The listener can hear each composer gently tugging the ensemble in the direction of his own taste, and the band follows, expressing their friendship through musical empathy.

As trombonist Andy Clausen explains: “For this project we very consciously wanted to take our time in the composition, workshopping and rehearsal of the music. We spent four weeks off the grid, spending eight, sometimes ten hours a day workshopping and rehearsing this music – which seems totally crazy and luxurious looking back. We wanted to go into the studio with as close to perfect technical mastery over these pieces as possible so the recording process could be more about experimentation and shaping the performances to be as expressive as possible.”

The high-res recording is a collaboration with Producer and Engineer Jesse Lewis (A Far Cry, Roomful of Teeth, Brooklyn Rider, Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma), and it pushes the expressive palette and sonic limits of this unusual instrumentation.

Trumpeter Zubin Hensler acted as co-producer: “Part of what first drew us to Jesse was his ability to produce recordings that sound perfectly polished while still full of life and complexity. He certainly did a fair amount of editing, but he was brilliant at pulling performances out of us in the studio that would make the editing fluid and musical… Our goal was to create a sort of sonic continuum with Chamber Music Blend on one side and Folk Music Intimacy on the other. Thus the massive number of mics – we essentially wanted to capture every possible angle so as to allow for extremely expressive mixing. There are definitely some techniques used at times that are not typical for chamber music or jazz albums, such as hard compression, dramatic reverb automation, delay, distortion, overdubs, but I think they were all used for expressive purposes that grew out of the compositions themselves. This is what excites me more than anything else about Jesse’s work – he accesses the creatively expressive studio techniques that are so common in popular music forms and harnesses them for use in more abstract art music. It’s brilliant.”

So this is not conservative music: it exudes warmth and beauty, with bursts of humor, surprise, and genuinely quirky attitude. As influences the band cites Kronos Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, Nico Muhly and Sam Amidon, Wayne Horvitz, Bill Frisell, Roomful of Teeth, Goat Rodeo, and American Brass Quintet.

Zubin: “Additionally, we each have very distinct and sometimes contrasting influences that we each bring to the ensemble. Willem’s the only one who spent time as a classical trombone major in college, Andy has definitely studied the compositions of Third Stream far deeper than the rest of us, Riley performs classic jazz arrangements more than the rest of us, and I spend most of my non-Westerlies time in the experimental indie-pop/rock/electronic world. So I view our influences as a sort of Venn diagram, where some things intersect, but some are very unique.”

The Westerlies
Riley Mulherkar & Zubin Hensler, Trumpets
Andy Clausen & Willem de Koch, Trombones


Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
A Nearer Sun
So So Shy
New Berlin, New York
Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself
The Beekeeper
Where's The Music?
Double Situation
The Shop
The Beach
Rue des Rosiers
Run On Down
Ruddy Ducker
Songs My Mother Taught Me
All To Ourselves

Total time: 01:13:33

Additional information





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Mixing & Mastering

Mixed and mastered by Jesse Lewis at Jesse's Bakery, Boston.



Original Recording Format

Recording Engineer

Jesse Lewis

Recording Location

Recorded at The Farm, West Chester, PA, August 26-September 1, 2015.

Release DateFebruary 16, 2024

Press reviews

Online Trombone Journal

It is probably safe to assert that this album is unlike any other previously existing recording of brass chamber music. It is not easily apprehended on the first pass, and bears repeated listening. After living with The Westerlies for a month, I am finding new things to appreciate about the recording. There is great musical maturity and depth on display here, produced by relatively young artists. It will be interesting to hear what their collaboration produces in the future.


The Westerlies’ compositions overlap with some contemporary classical music genres, but they don’t surf the same cultural wave. Each member of the group contributes original compositions that draw on a range of musical idioms, from hot and cool jazz, folk songs and hymns, to European art music and movie soundtracks. And while all of the player-composers have pursued their own individual artistic courses, the compositions they bring to the project share enough similarities in form and idiom to create a unified band sound. The pieces are through-composed mini-suites that do not follow traditional jazz or even post-bop form. There is a conscious exclusion of bebop vocabulary from the improvised passages, a declaration of distinction from jazz as it is generally recognized and taught.

Chicago Reader

When New York brass quartet the The Westerlies dropped 2014’s Wish the Children Would Come Home (Songlines) they forced me to reevaluate Seattle keyboardist Wayne Horvitz as a composer. The readings trumpeters Riley Mulherkar and Zubin Hensler and trombonists Andy Clausen and Willem de Koch give to the music of their old teacher are extraordinary, and while I praised the group’s stunning technical abilities, rich timbre, and strong arrangements then, their dazzling new eponymous double CD indicates they deserve even more credit. Aside from interpretations of Charles Ives’s “Songs My Mother Taught Me” and Duke Ellington’s “Where’s the Music?”—as well as an arrangement of the folk tune “Saro” by Sam Amidon and Nico Muhly—the members composed the material, and it’s all knocked me on my ass. There’s no extensive improvisation on these gorgeous pieces, though when they do solo, the players display rigor and a level of execution on par with classic brass ensembles (Mulherkar’s solo on “Where’s the Music?” brings to mind the splendor of Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy at its best). The original repertoire is so strong and varied that the Westerlies represent a kind of bastard child, standing fiercely between genre cracks with works that evoke the Americana of Aaron Copland and John Philip Sousa on the one hand but seeming to translate the rhythmically spastic machinations of EDM on the other (check out “So So Shy”). There are plenty of other stops in between, all delivered with stunning clarity and richness.

NPR Music

Young musicians today routinely resist being pigeonholed into a single genre. Such is the case with this unconventional band, which, through its compositions and tight ensemble playing, reveals a built-in sympathy for improvised jazz, rigorous classical structures and sunshiny pop. Trumpeters Riley Mulherkar and Zubin Hensler and trombonists Andy Clausen and Willem de Koch can blow hard — after all, this is a brass band — but the surprise comes in their soft tones and subtle phrasing.


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