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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kenny Wheeler: Songs for Quintet

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Recorded less than a year before his death, trumpeter Kenny Wheeler's swan song is a document that sings with smoldering beauty and palpable heartache--all captured in the typically sublime detail that has become the trademark of the ECM label. Wheeler concentrates on flugelhorn throughout, and his long-time association with saxophonist Stan Sulzmann pays big dividends, as the horns orbit each other on the opening “Seventy-Six," where the leader's burnished, centered tone remains one of the most ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kenny Wheeler: Songs for Quintet

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Songs for Quintet marks celebrated Kenny Wheeler's final recording. He passed away on Sept 18, 2014. And while it's quite apparent that a lengthy illness zapped some of the trumpeter/flugelhornist's strength, his hallmark musical persona remained intact. Wheeler's yearning notes, distinctive phrasings and enchanting lyricism are resident throughout this production. In the '70s, Wheeler was a catalyst that helped define ECM Records new wave, forward-looking vision and audio aesthetic, complemented by the label's fine art- based album covers. ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Kenny Wheeler: Songs for Quintet

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With the passing of Kenneth Vincent John Wheeler--Kenny Wheeler to his legion of friends and fans--the world lost yet another significant figure in the history of jazz from the mid-'60s through to the second decade of the new millennium, the artist that Norma Winstone (more often than not his singer of choice) called “the Duke Ellington of our times." While Wheeler had, since 2004, been releasing his music on the Italian Cam Jazz label, but it seems wholly appropriate that ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kenny Wheeler: Songs for Quintet

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In the end, time--as is its wont--caught up with Kenny Wheeler, the much-loved Canadian-born trumpeter/flugelhornist and composer who made England his home for over sixty years. Happily, he was able to hear the results of the two-day Abbey Road sessions that produced, Songs for Quintet before he passed away last September 18. These Wheeler originals reveal the inevitable fragility that had crept into Wheeler's delivery--even since the remarkable Mirrors (Edition Records, 2013)--due to declining health but just as clearly emphasize ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Kenny Wheeler: Six for Six

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When artists move into their eighties, every new album is a gift. It's difficult enough for any octogenarian musician to maintain his/her game, but especially horn players, for whom embouchure and breath are so essential to tone and reach. Six for Six is, however, a curious gift from expat Canadian trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, who's made Britain his home since the mid-'50s. Recorded in 2008, it's his first sextet recording since 2003's Dream Sequence--and even that album only featured one piece ...

INTERVIEWS

Kenny Wheeler: The Making of "Mirrors"

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It often comes as a surprise to people when they discover that trumpeter/flugelhornist/composer Kenny Wheeler is not British. Well, not British born, for although born in Toronto, Canada, in 1930, Wheeler has spent the last 60 years living in England, which surely makes him as English as Ploughman's Lunch or a pint of bitter. The recording Mirrors (Edition Records, 2013) sees the veteran team up with singer Norma Winstone and the London Vocal Project, a 25-piece choir directed by Pete ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kenny Wheeler / Norma Winstone / London Vocal Project: Mirrors

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That trumpeter/flugelhornist/composer Kenny Wheeler is challenging himself at 80 is surely inspirational. Mirrors represents his first recording where poems provide the music's source, though he composed the music over 20 years ago. The project was then commissioned for five solo voices in 1998, but the combination of Wheeler, singer Norma Winstone and the London Vocal Project, led by Pete Churchill, brings a fluid, suite-like permanency and epic scale to the original concept. Poets Stevie Smith, Lewis Carroll and W.B. Yeats ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Kenny Wheeler Big Band: The Long Waiting

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Kenny Wheeler Big Band The Long Waiting Cam Jazz 2012 While likely not the reason behind its title, The Long Waiting could easily fit for fans of the Canadian expat trumpeter who has lived in England since the 1950s. Since coming to Cam Jazz in 2004 with his duo recording with longtime pianist and fellow Cam Jazzer John Taylor, Where Do We Go From Here?, Kenny Wheeler has ramped up his output, releasing four more ...



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