6

Kenny Wheeler: Songs for Quintet

Robert Bush By

Sign in to view read count
Kenny Wheeler: Songs for Quintet
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 compelling sounds in jazz. Guitarist John Parricelli, who seems to be coming out of the John Abercrombie tradition, unites with Sulzmann to shoulder much of the solo responsibilities, and his clear, resonant timbre is consistently rewarding.

Although his laser bursts into the upper register and pinpoint vibrato are gone, the heart of Wheeler's sound, and his brilliant organization of ideas are still resolute and pure, as evidenced on "Jigsaw," and "Canter No. 1," which also serve as calling cards for Parricelli and Sulzmann, especially, who cranks the latter into a double-time fervor.

Bassist Chris Laurence delivers a sparkling, soulful essay on the tango "Sly Eyes," skillfully navigating the divide between Charlie Haden's purity and the velocity of a Gary Peacock with considerable grace; drummer Martin France also comes alive on this tune, steering the groove with irresistible martial cadences and forward motion.

The least typical tune on the album is "1076," a free caterwaul of explosive drums and distorted guitar that the trumpeter soars above with incisive clarity—sounding closer to full-strength Wheeler than anyone had a right to expect.

The ravages of time and disease are demons we all must face, yet few have done so with such attention to beauty and the creative process as Wheeler managed with Songs for Quintet. There will never be another Kenny Wheeler, but this disc offers one final reveal into his singular aesthetic.

Track Listing

Seventy Six; Jigsaw; The Long Waiting; Canter No.1; Sly Eyes; 1076; Old Time; Pretty Liddle Waltz; Nonetheless.

Personnel

Kenny Wheeler: flugelhorn; Stan Sulzman: tenor saxophone; John Parricelli: guitar; Chris Laurence: double bass; Martin France: drums.

Album information

Title: Songs for Quintet | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: ECM Records

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Soul Conversations
Ulysses Owens Jr. Big Band
Sud Des Alpes
The Rempis Percussion Quartet
Hokusai
Sabu Toyozumi / Mats Gustafsson
Sacred Ceremonies
Wadada Leo Smith with Milford Graves and Bill...
L'Impact du Silence
Francois Bourassa
The Bright Awakening
Paul Dunmall - Matthew Shipp - Joe Morris -...

Popular

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.