Trumpeter and composer Kenny Wheeler dies aged 84

Kenny Wheeler

One of the most enigmatic and titanic figures in jazz, trumpet and flugelhorn player Kenny Wheeler has died today aged 84.

One of the most enigmatic and titanic figures in jazz, trumpet and flugelhorn player Kenny Wheeler has died today aged 84. Kenny was born Toronto but for most of his life lived in London. He was known for his deep, sometimes chaotic yet always somewhat melancholic compositional and arrangement strengths which earned him huge respect from collaborators and jazz listeners. Wheeler was a long time member of Sir Johnny Dankworth's Orchestra and during his early years in Britain played with some of the great and revered names in British jazz including Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Scott and Bobby Wellins. He was a huge figure in free jazz working with leading exponents like saxophonist Anthony Braxton and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith as well as touching on rock and collaborated with British singer Norma Winstone.

Earlier this year the Royal Academy Of Music in London hosted an insightful exhibition of Kenny Wheeler's work and memorabilia and a recently assembled collective of top jazz musicians including John Taylor, Stan Sulzmann, John Parricelli, Chris Laurence and Martin France continue to explore his music repertoire under the name The Kenny Wheeler Collective. 

Manfred Eicher / Steve Lake of ECM Records write:

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.

On Monday 22nd September Helen Mayhew will pay tribute to Kenny Wheeler as part of her Dinner Jazz Programme from 7-10pm.

This is Kenny Wheeler talking about his music influences, key life moments and his compositional methods (shared from artistshousemusic.org)

Kenny Wheeler 1930 - 2014

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