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Kenny Wheeler 1930-2014

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R.I.P. Kenny. Seems like just yesterday that "Gnu High" was a new release.

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from ECM Facebook:

Kenny Wheeler 1930-2014

The news of Kenny Wheeler’s death, at the age of 84, reached us just two weeks after we’d finished work on the mixing and mastering of his new album, which was recorded at London’s Abbey Road last Christmas. The session itself was inspirational, a very frail Kenny rousing himself to play creative and touching flugelhorn improvisations in a programme of nine of his fine songs, surrounded and supported by some of his favourite players: Stan Sulzmann on tenor sax, John Parricelli on guitar, Chris Laurence on bass, Martin France on drums. Three of the band were able to join us for the mix of an album which was to have marked a return to ECM for Kenny after some years away. A release date for the album is not yet finalized, but early 2015 seems likely.

Manfred Eicher / Steve Lake

I'm fairly sure I never saw him live, but heard him on a number of BBC Radio 3 jazz programs.

It sounds like this album will be a fitting touchstone to his career. I'll definitely be checking it out.

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Oh shit, no, this is very sad!

Will dig up some of his music - what a wonderful sound he had. Sorry to hear it's silent forever now.

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That's pretty amazing news re: the forthcoming ECM release.

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kenny_3044233b.jpg

From the UK paper The Telegraph, an uncredited and undated picture of Kenny which seems to capture him especially well: his being-in-the-shadows, air of melancholy, yet with the beauty of the light and the roses (one them away from the others, yet part of the bunch)...

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My very first exposure to the name "Kenny Wheeler" was in a perhaps unlikely place:

Then, around the same time, in the cutout bins:

1000000collection.jpg

And then, nothing, really, until he showed up on Five Pieces 1975 and, ok, this guy's got no problems playing music of any sort that I can see, and that's really how it seemed up until the end, the guy had no problems playing music of any sort. A rare and beautiful quality, that is.

RIP, hello, goodbye.

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Indeed. First heard him with Braxton but it didn't take ALL that long to pick up on his playing with the SME and Tony Oxley, as well as his own recordings. It's all indispensable IMO. Dankworth --> Ichnos, I mean considering the scope of this music (and the fact that Wheeler could play equally brilliantly in these settings), that alone is impressive. Then you have his own small and large group material, and, well, damn.

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Like Daniel A. it was hearing 'Gnu High' that got me into Kenny. I can still recall hearing that wonderful, slightly melancholy sound for the first time. A great player who could effortlessly fit into all kinds of musical situations with warmth and grace. Just his name on a recording made it a compulsory purchase. He never let me down. Thanks for the music, Kenny.

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My first exposure to Kenny Wheeler was probably watching 'Mr Benn' on TV as a youngster. Then Braxton's 'New York Fall 1974'. What a jump..

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Anthony Braxton Quartet, Pepper Adams Quintet, Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Maynard Ferguson big band... what a range! RIP.

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I think I first heard Kenny (apart from minor appearances on rock records) on the late night live sessions that used to go out as part of a BBC Radio 2 programme on a Sunday going into Monday night. At that time (late 70s) he wasn't getting recorded very much as a leader. I remember hearing slightly bigger than quintet bands performing music that you couldn't buy in the shops.

He always made clear that his centre ground was in that melodic area of most of his records; but that he was intrigued by free music even if he didn't always feel safe there. The fact that he constantly pushed himself in that area was just one of his many attributes.

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I think I first heard Kenny (apart from minor appearances on rock records) on the late night live sessions that used to go out as part of a BBC Radio 2 programme on a Sunday going into Monday night.

'BBC Jazz Club' recorded at Maida Vale and broadcast on Radio 2 on the 'Sounds of Jazz' show (Peter Clayton used to introduce it). Kenny's big band used to convene annually pretty well every year for that show in the mid-late 70s and I caught many of those broadcasts. The 'Omnibus' programme shows a rehearsal for one of them.

Edited by sidewinder

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Thanks, Sidewinder. Those were the programmes. Wonder if any of those broadcasts survived the BBC's tape wiping habits.

Here's a long lost album with Kenny on that could really do with a reissue:

R-3810844-1345318577-7286.gif

R-3810844-1388083826-8588.jpeg

I only have a burn from a kindly board member.

I recall seeing this band in a Nottingham pub around the time it was recorded.

(Source for images: www.discogs.com/Gordon-Beck-Ron-Mathewson-Tony-Oxley-Stan-Sulzmann-Kenny-Wheeler-Bill-Evans-Seven-Steps-To-Evans-A-T/release/3810844)

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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Thanks, Sidewinder. Those were the programmes. Wonder if any of those broadcasts survived the BBC's tape wiping habits.

Not sure - it is possible that the National Sound Archive may have some of them on file.

I'll really miss Kenny's Big Band, in particular - and the many fine players (Ray Warleigh, Henry Lowther, Duncan Lamont, Chris Laurence) who were always featured in it. I hope that someone keeps it going.

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Thanks, Sidewinder. Those were the programmes. Wonder if any of those broadcasts survived the BBC's tape wiping habits.

Not sure - it is possible that the National Sound Archive may have some of them on file.

I'll really miss Kenny's Big Band, in particular - and the many fine players (Ray Warleigh, Henry Lowther, Duncan Lamont, Chris Laurence) who were always featured in it. I hope that someone keeps it going.

Indeed. Another great Kenny performance in Nottingham (but in a posher venue!) that I really enjoyed was a birthday big band performance around the time of the release of 'Music for Large and Small Ensembles' (my favourite KW recording).

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That must have been the '60th Birthday' tour. I caught the '75th' and '80th' tours but not the earlier ones, sadly.

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Is there an especially good KW discography online? One that perhaps includes sideman appearances as well?

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Very sad news, a unique player ...

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Is there an especially good KW discography online? One that perhaps includes sideman appearances as well?

Not that I've seen, which is a shame. There are some woefully inadequate ones. A truly exhaustive sessionography would be a great resource (there's one for John Stevens and John Surman).

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