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 Lover 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)
First time I met Lee Konitz, my mentor who completely changed my life, in 1992. He was giving a masterclass at the Cologne Conservatory (Germany) where I was a freshmen (with playing experience around three years total)
First time I met Lee Konitz, my mentor who completely changed my life, in 1992. He was giving a masterclass at the Cologne Conservatory (Germany) where I was a freshmen (with playing experience around three years total). He saw an alto sax on my neck and said: Hey, how about you there, would you like to play something for us? I played a piece with the piano. OK, said Lee, how about you play something unaccompanied? Oh yeah! I was deep into transcribing Sonny Stitt and pretty much into playing as fast as possible as many right notes as possible. So I played Oleo in about 300 beats per minute and was very proud of myself. Lee was tapping his foot all the way through. Hmm, he said, that was in time and all that... (I thought - yeah, of course, haha!) and then he said, You've got a lot of quantity, how about quality? It took me 15 years to realize what he meant.