Trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer Kenny Wheeler, now in his 80s, is a man of so few words that he is nearly silent, but John Fordham of The Guardian managed to persuade Wheeler to talk about himself for an article. Anyone interested in the unceasingly searching trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer will want to read Fordham’s piece. Here’s an excerpt:
He doesn’t even call himself a composer, but someone who “takes pretty songs and joins them up.” The soft-spoken Toronto-born musician has been sketching his enigmatic scenes for over half a century now, in which period – to his surprise – they’ve been massaged or creatively subverted by A-list jazz artists from the late Sir John Dankworth to sax stars Jan Garbarek and Evan Parker. Despite his 80 years, he retains his uniquely pure and melodically startling flugelhorn sound, and still composes profusely.
To read the whole thing, go here.
This video features Wheeler soloing with the George Gruntz big band on tour in Japan in the late 1980s. The tune is one of Wheeler’s best known, “Everybody’s Song But My Own.” Gruntz is the pianist, Chris Hunter the alto saxophonist. Mike Richmond is on bass, Paul Motian on drums. I recognize Tom Varner on French horn, but don’t have the names of the other musicians. This is a generous helping of Wheeler’s playing.
For an evaluation from the Rifftides archives of one of Wheeler’s albums and another honoring him, go here.