Goading my mind-of-its-own computer as I attempted to force it to solve a problem, I unexpectedly found myself watching a performance that I had no idea existed on video. “Good heavens,” I said to the computer and the empty room, “that’s Kenny Wheeler.” My attempt at digital correction had somehow landed me on YouTube as the late trumpet master soloed with mind-blowing freedom on what sounded as if it might be “By Myself,” a 1937 song by Dietz and Schwartz, with hints of “Stella By Starlight.” Soon it became apparent—before their names popped up on the screen—that Wheeler’s rhythm section was pianist John Taylor, bassist Dave Holland, guitarist John Abercrombie and drummer Peter Erskine. The video, it turned out, was made in 1990 in Vienna at the subterranean club called Reigen.
If your weekend hasn’t already started, this is a splendid way to begin it.
Further research discloses that “By Myself” was also a part of Wheeler’s 1990 recording Music For Large & Small Ensembles, one of several indispensible albums from his ECM period.