The Westerlies – “Saro” (Arr. Sam Amidon & Nico Muhly)

Well, normally I don’t do this, but, uh, go ‘head on and break ‘em off with a little preview of the traditionally arranged British ballad.

The Westerlies are an instrumental quartet bridging jazz, improv, classical, and folk. Their self-titled sophomore album is coming soon, and today they offered a tantalizing preview in the form of “Saro.” Best known as “Pretty Saro,” it originated as a 17th century British folk song — maybe you’ve heard Bob Dylan’s version? — but arrangers Sam Amidon and Nico Muhly have reimagined it as a brassy emotional triumph, like “Taps” slowly building into the stratosphere and then dissolving into warm downward flutters. It’s exceedingly lovely, so listen up.

Also, here’s an album trailer that gives a window into the Westerlies’ history and headspace:


01 “A Nearer Sun” (Mulherkar)
02 “So So Shy” (Hensler)
03 “New Berlin, New York” (Clausen)
04 “Saro” (Arr. Sam Amidon/Nico Muhly)
05 “Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself” (Clausen)
06 “The Beekeeper” (de Koch)
07 “Where’s The Music?” ( Duke Ellington)
08 “Double Situation” (Mulherkar)
09 “Lopez” (Mulherkar)

Disc II
01 “The Shop” (de Koch)
02 “The Beach” (Hensler)
03 “Rue des Rosiers” (Clausen)
04 “Run On Down” (Hensler)
05 “Edomala” (Clausen)
06 “Ruddy Ducker” (Clausen)
07 “Songs My Mother Taught Me” (Charles Ives)
08 “All To Ourselves” (Clausen)

The Westerlies is out 10/7 on Songlines.