Around the World in Music Monday: Canada and Kenny Wheeler

28 Feb

Kenny Wheeler

Kenny Wheeler: Deer Wan

Born in Canada (St. Catharine’s) in 1930, trumpeter Kenny Wheeler can be claimed by two countries — he has lived in Great Britain since 1952. Wheeler turned 81 in January, and is still active.

Notoriously reticent, Wheeler prefers his work to speak for him more than his words. The record is lengthy and complete — Wheeler has all played kinds of jazz and played with all kinds of artists, from Anthony Braxton to his Azimuth trio to big bands to collaborating with all the best performers the ECM label has produced.

Said Azimuth vocalist Norma Winstone to the Guardian’s John Fordham (link below) last fall: “He doesn’t say much, but he makes what he does say count. It’s like his tunes.”

Mike Hennessey on the liner notes to Soul Note’s 1988 album Flutter By Butterfly: “Not only is Kenny a fresh and invigorating soloist with a totally individual style; he also is a most imaginative composer . . .”

Wheeler can sound less impressed. To Fordham in the Guardian profile: “I’ve never got over my phobias about playing. But it’s getting a bit late now. I guess I’ll just have to live with them.” (link to the Guardian story:

From the 1976 ECM release Gnu High (below): 


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