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Kenny Wheeler: What Now? (2005)

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Kenny Wheeler: What Now? How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

In this program of his own compositions, trumpeter Kenny Wheeler teams up with saxophonist Chris Potter to drive jazz's modern mainstream. Together with pianist John Taylor and bassist Dave Holland, they explore paths that need to be followed, but yet allow for complete freedom. Wheeler's themes are lyrical, allowing the quartet to simmer gently with lush harmony and flowing melodic threads. Around each melody, the foursome weaves an intricate design of spontaneous lines that move cohesively in a mellow affair.

The title track begins with Wheeler's flugelhorn in a solemn procession that asks the question "What Now?" sincerely. Do we know where jazz is headed? Do we sit back and let it evolve, or do we force change? Wheeler prefers to dream about it and to let things ride smoothly over timeless combinations of musical elements that are blended together naturally. The ballad approach applies today as it did at the beginning of time. Beauty of sound and motion belies a true belief in art as a prescription for life itself. With that musical thread driving him, Wheeler devotes his quartet session to a search for lyrical beauty from a balladeer's viewpoint. Everything fits together well, and he makes sure the refrains are tied together seamlessly.

While part of the program drives with dreamy intensity, most relies on lyrical beauty for its inspiration. Hence, no drummer was called in for this date. Wheeler pours out his thoughts, not in a conversational style, but as one singing praises of what strikes him as established objects of beautiful art. He and his musical partners prefer to celebrate what appeals to our aesthetic nature, and it works out well.

Track Listing: Iowa City; One Two Three; March Mist; The love Mourns; The Sweet Yakity Waltz; What Now?; For Tracy; Verona.

Personnel: Kenny Wheeler- flugelhorn; Chris Potter- tenor saxophone; John Taylor- piano; Dave Holland- double bass.

Record Label: CAM Jazz

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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