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The Long Waiting

Kenny Wheeler

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Album Review

Kenny Wheeler has long been a talented composer, improviser, and soloist, though he is still overlooked by some jazz fans because most of his work has been issued by European labels. Among the composers of his generation, Wheeler is one of the best, along with the late Bob Brookmeyer, in writing and scoring creative works for a large ensemble. For this session, Wheeler's charts are performed by a 17-piece big band — with the addition of Diana Torto's wordless vocals — conducted by Pete Churchill. Wheeler's expressive flügelhorn has a slightly dissonant, fragile sound that is very much his own, while his works are full of moving ensemble passages and superb individual solos. The peppy "Four, Five, Six" is very much a modern work, with intricate solos by Wheeler, bassist Chris Laurence, baritone saxophonist Julian Argüelles, and guitarist John Parricelli. The Latin undercurrent of his extended work "Enowena" proves infectious as a backdrop for Wheeler's powerful solo. "Upwards" begins as a deliberate, brooding piece that suggests an emotional upheaval, with Wheeler stretching the upper range of his horn; it changes character midway into driving post-bop. This is easily one of Kenny Wheeler's best efforts as a leader.


Born: 14 January 1930 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Veteran trumpeter/flügelhornist Kenny Wheeler has long been one of the most advanced voices on his instrument. Blessed with a full, lovely tone and an astounding range, Wheeler sounds equally at home in fiery free jazz explorations or softer, more lyrical post-bop meditations. Wheeler was born in 1930 in Toronto, Ontario, and began playing trumpet at age 12. After studying at Toronto's Royal Conservatory, he moved to London in 1952, where he gigged with swing and dance bands. He appeared with John...
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