Ken Leighton 12:30 p.m., Feb. 21
RIYL: Joshua White, Bill Evans, Paul Bley, Red Garland, Wynton Kelly
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- "There Was Always Music in Forrest Westbrook's House" · Jan. 8, 2015
Influences: Thelonious Monk, Cecil Taylor, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Wynton Kelly, Bill Evans, Lennie Tristano, Bill Evans, Paul Bley
Jazz pianist Forrest Westbrook was known for working with Count Basie, June Christy, Art Pepper, Bill Evans, Carmell Jones, and others, spending the latter part of his career living in San Diego.
Born in L.A., Westbrook grew up in Nuevo, California, studying piano from age seven. His mother Flossie Jolly Westbrook played the piano and sang in the church choir. By the 1950s, Westbrook was playing jazz clubs all over the west coast with the Art Pepper-Jack Montrose Quintet, singer June Christy, and others.
More comfortable improvising in concert than in the recording studio, he did occasionally record with artists like the Carmell Jones Quartet, though those tapes remained unreleased in Westbrook's lifetime. He does appear on record with Musique Concrete composer Gil Melle on Gil Melle Tome VI, the Jazz Electronauts (released by Verve Records), and he headlined a quartet for This Is Their Time, Oh Yes on the Revelation label, backed by Jim West, Paul Ruhland, and Dick Wilson.
"I played with Forrest regularly in the 1990s and used to hang out at his apartment listening to amazing music on his incredible audio system," says local jazz cat Rob Thorsen.
Westbrook passed away in San Diego in April 2014. The vintage session tapes featuring Westbrook and Carmell Jones were released in 2015 on the Fresh Sound label as Carmell Jones: Previously Unreleased Los Angeles Session. The 2016 release The Remarkable Forrest Westbrook features tracks recorded in 1960, including a song with guest player Gary Peacock.