The Serpent Hit

by Kate Westbrook

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After the Serpent’s bite, there is no turning back. Kate Westbrook’s libretto recounts, with irony, humour and regret, the Fall of Humankind in a world hell-bent on its own destruction.

Mike Westbrook’s genre-crossing score combines Kate’s voice with the saxophones of Andy Tweed, Chris Biscoe, Karen Street and Chris Caldwell, and the drums of Simon Pearson.

"Although The Serpent Hit, described in its accompanying publicity as a ‘modern-day fable of the Fall of Humankind’, does indeed provide a tour d’horizon of contemporary ills - listed by librettist Kate Westbrook as the ‘wanton destruction’ of (in song order) innocent pleasure, art, the environment and planet Earth itself - it is by no means a gloomy, pessimistic work, infused as it is with the defiant jauntiness, even exuberance, that have characterised the many projects on which the Westbrooks have collaborated over the years, whether their subjects have been unequivocally grave (the reflections on a broken Europe in London Bridge) or apparently trivial (tips on trifle-making in English Soup).

Thus, the blinding of a merry-go-round horse by a stone (‘Threw’), the smashing of a pot by a glass (‘Lob’), the striking of a basking shark by a barb (‘Hurl’) or the annihilation of the planet by a bomb (‘Trigger’) are all addressed with the same seriousness as manifestations of human folly and destructiveness. Mike Westbrook’s music (originally commissioned for the Delta Saxophone Quartet, now adapted for performance by saxophonists Andy Tweed, Chris Biscoe, Karen Street, Chis Caldwell and drummer Simon Pearson) is carefully calibrated to accommodate Kate’s characteristically idiosyncratic but hard-hitting text, drawing on everything from the cabaret/music-hall tradition to punchy modern jazz in the process.

Beautifully illustrated by Kate’s cover painting and flawlessly and enthusiastically performed by a crack band, The Serpent Hit, despite its ostensibly grave subject matter, is - somewhat paradoxically - an inspiring and oddly uplifting listening experience. The Westbrooks have never been afraid to address the ‘big issues’ - their profound and deeply moving meditations on the Great War in the aforementioned London Bridge, for instance, should surely form part of any self-respecting forthcoming public commemorations of that earth-shattering conflict - and The Serpent Hit, infectiously lively and immediately accessible as it is, constitutes another considerable artistic triumph for them."
Chris Parker - London Jazz


released October 8, 2019

Kate Westbrook (text & voice)
Andy Tweed (soprano & alto saxophones)
Chris Biscoe (alto saxophone)
Karen Street (tenor saxophone)
Chris Caldwell (baritone saxophone)
Simon Pearson (drums)

Mike Westbrook (music)

Recording directed, engineered and mixed by Jon Hiseman
at Temple Studios, Sutton, Surrey, UK.
Funded by 𝑨𝒊𝒓𝒔𝒉𝒂𝒇𝒕 𝑻𝒓𝒖𝒔𝒕.
Publisher: Metisse Music.


all rights reserved



Kate Westbrook London, UK

Kate's musical career began in the mid '70s when she joined the Mike Westbrook Brass Band.

Kate has formed a new 7–piece group, The Granite Band to record and perform her latest work, GRANITE, inspired by Dartmoor and its granite quarries.

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Track Name: Throw
(the wanton destruction of innocent pleasure)
“The great Liberal Thinker urges the populace to vote and is largely ignored…….”

On the merry-go-round,
gibberish bound, belly-go-ground,
On the merry-go-round
wheezy tin sound, shaky beat pound, chatterboxing quite drowned
Ouch! Who threw that stone?
or fossil bone, lead-lined ice-cream cone.
Who threw that stone? Which stone?
The stone that hits, that hits the horse, the fairground horse, the painted horse,
And blinds one eye.
one painted eye, with eyelid blue, with eyeball green, with bloodshot white.
Who threw that stone?
Round, round, round,
Was it Spite? or Chance? or perhaps it was Play? Was it he, or she, was it they,
Who threw that stone?
Coiled round the horse, the painted horse with one blind eye,
Coiled round the horse, the serpent sings:
“Let one who is, who is without, is without sin, throw the first stone.”
Track Name: Lob
(the wanton destruction of art)
“ The great Designer projects the millennium plan on a cyber sky and it is largely ignored ……”

At the potter’s wheel
muddy congeal, watery feel.
At the potter’s wheel
Who lobbed that glass?
quel sassy pass, the coup de grace
Who lobbed that glass? Which glass?
The glass that smashed, that smashed the work, a work of art
That smashed the work and spoiled the clay.
Round, round, round.
Is it real, or is it fake? Is it good, or, perhaps, it is great?
Will the mar-ket go down? Or go high
Saatchi buys, gets the lot.
Let one who hates, who hates creation, lob the first glass.
Track Name: Hurl
(the wanton destruction of the environment)
“The great Strategist for the environment argues eloquently for radical action and is ignored”

In the whirlpool
spin pearly cool, swirling spool, vortex curl.
In the whirlpool who hurled that barb?
blade sharp shard, mark, a killer barb.
Who hurled that barb? Which barb?
The barb that strikes, that strikes the shark, the basking shark,
And cuts the flesh.
The barb that strikes the gleaming skin, the silver back, the shining face, the slender fin,
Who hurled the barb And kills the shark?
Round, round, round.
“And all I ask, is a tall ship,
And a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick, and the wind’s song…”*
Let one who is indifferent,
Let one who is unfeeling, and careless of the sea, hurl the first barb.

* John Masefield
Track Name: Pitch
Track Name: Trigger
(the wanton destruction of planet earth)
“The great Leader heaps praise on the enlightened worker.
Industrious labour is rewarded by the pinning on of a medal.”

With the spinning of the earth
sacred earth, holy world, dancing world,
With the spinning of the earth
Who triggered that bomb?
to blazes gone, the burn beyond, the void that joins the love of God.
Who triggered that bomb? Which bomb?
The bomb that blows, all living things, all living things to Kingdom Come.
The bomb that blows, that blows the place, the whole darn place,
That blows the human race the wanton race, to Kingdom Come
Round, round, round,
Was it blood, or belief, or perhaps it was greed?
Was it she? Or he? Was it thee or was it me?
Let one who abandons, abandons all hope,
Trigger the last bomb…
Which bomb?
Track Name: Strike

Blow away, blow away world,
Flake away, break away world.
Die away world.
Planet earth is dust. Tremble oh stars.

The moon, askew, mooches,
The sun tilts in a shimmy.
Mercury break-dances,
Venus will mess around,
Mars does ragtime,
Jupiter j-j-jives,
Saturn’s waters brood with an alluring flamenco,
Uranus dances a Two-step,
Neptune goes be-bop.

The Universe dances, dances, dances
As mister and missus Bourgeois Fleshy Couple fly, fly fly mounted on their husk,
And breathing air, oxygen, privately funded,
They fly to the new world
Where they dig, delve, till their garden green,
They sow, tend, reap their garden green.
And there’s the prettiest apple tree ever seen
‘Thou merry apple’ quoth humankind.
So it’s round, round, round.
And there’s the finest apple tree
That anyone did ever see.
Man thanks the Lord on bended knee.
The serpent coiled around the bough
Smiling at the man, and how!
Snake leads him on to break his vow,
The scaly wily serpent.
Man from the apple bites a bit,
And once again The Serpent Hit.

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