272

Kenny Wheeler: A Long Time Ago

C. Andrew Hovan By

Sign in to view read count
There are very few major artists who, like Kenny Wheeler, have the ironic misfortune of being simultaneously revered and ignored. Talk to any astute jazz musician and Wheeler's name is likely to be held in high esteem, yet the record- buying public still has scarcely a clue as to how valuable this 69-year-old trumpeter has been to music over the past several decades. His projects for ECM are regarded as highlights of the entire catalog, not to mention being some of the better small group jazz recordings of recent vintage.

As a distinguished follow-up to his previous release, Angel Song, this new Wheeler recording seems like a logical extension in that a chamber-like atmosphere once again provides the mode of expression. Wheeler's chosen grouping this time out is an eight-piece brass ensemble, with pianist John Taylor and guitarist John Parricelli thrown in the mix for good measure. There's almost a contemporary classical feel to much of the music, most notably on "Going for Baroque," a piece whose witty title further suggests Wheeler's sardonic sense of humor and love of a good pun.

The centerpiece here is a half-hour excursion simply titled "The Long Time Ago Suite." As skilled a writer as he is a player, Wheeler crafts an enchanting performance that has largely been through-composed. Taking some simple motifs, Wheeler develops the piece via manifold permutations and tempos. Utilizing his flugelhorn throughout the proceedings, his dulcet tones are heard to great advantage, as are the solo voices of Taylor and Parricelli. The other lengthy piece revisits an earlier masterpiece. "Gnu Suite" comes from the album that really put Kenny on the map in 1975, Gnu High. This realization is less grandiose, but no less rewarding.

High marks all around for Wheeler's proficient use of the brass and his lush scoring. With much regret, there's truly too little of Wheeler's large ensemble writing available, making this a precious addition to his catalog. On the other hand, those looking for more of a jazz-laden gathering may find the lack of a rhythm section cause for a bit of a paradigm shift.


Track Listing: The Long Time Ago Suite, One Plus Three (Version 1), Ballad For a Dead Child, Eight Plus Three/Alice My Dear, Going for Baroque, Gnu Suite, One Plus Three (Version 2) (63:47)

Personnel: Kenny Wheeler- flugelhorn; John Taylor- piano; John Parricelli- guitar; Derek Watkins, John Barclay, Henry Lowther, Ian Hamer- trumpet; Pete Beachill, Mark Nightingale- trombone; Sarah Williams & Dave Stewart- bass trombone; Tony Faulkner- conductor

| Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Don't Try You Are" CD/LP/Track Review Don't Try You Are
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: May 10, 2016
Read "Isn't Life Grand" CD/LP/Track Review Isn't Life Grand
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 29, 2016
Read "Of Sound Mind" CD/LP/Track Review Of Sound Mind
by Budd Kopman
Published: September 30, 2016
Read "Skronky Tonk" CD/LP/Track Review Skronky Tonk
by James Nadal
Published: June 18, 2016
Read "Dream Delivery" CD/LP/Track Review Dream Delivery
by Dave Wayne
Published: July 28, 2016
Read "Bambulaye" CD/LP/Track Review Bambulaye
by James Nadal
Published: March 10, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!