Saturday, September 20, 2014


One of my favorite instrumentalists passed away the other day at the age of 84, so I am posting today in tribute.
Kenny Wheeler must be on ten million records of the last 45 years... the shorter list might indeed be those recordings on which he is not a participant. 
It's impossible to recount the multitude of records he plays on or leads, there's just too much. All that needs to be said is that his tone, on either trumpet or the flugelhorn, is as instantly recognizable as his phrasing. He plays a note or two or smatters a few together and you know exactly whom you are hearing.
One third of one of my favorite ensembles, Azimuth -- with the legends Norma Winstone (vocalist supreme) and John Taylor (pianist and composer) -- he brings a lyricism to the freer end of the spectrum and a sense of calm to the abstract maelstroms being generated.
To celebrate the life of this extraordinary player, I am posting two sets. One is a recent German rebroadcast of a fantastic Azimuth concert from their ECM heyday in 1978. The other is the three Azimuth members augmented by a Wheeler-led big band, also broadcast on the radio in Europe but this time in the early 1990s on the BBC.
Kenny Wheeler
[Azimuth 1978 + Kenny Wheeler Orchestra 1993]

Berliner Jazztage
Berlin, Germany

01 Jero
02 Norma Winstone announcement
03 Mayday
04 Eulogy
05 Norma Winstone announcement
06 O
07 Prelude Carneval

Total time: 49:43

Norma Winstone - vocals
Kenny Wheeler - trumpet, flugelhorn
John Taylor - piano

taken from a recent RBB Kulturradio DVB rebroadcast

Kenny Wheeler Orchestra
Outside-In Festival
The Hawth Centre
Crawley, UK
September 1993

01 Kayak
02 Hotel Le Hot
03 Gentle Piece
04 Sea Lady
05 Sophie
06 The Winter Rain

Total time: 1:22:02

Kenny Wheeler - trumpet, flugelhorn
Derek Warleigh - trumpet, flugelhorn
Alan Downey - trumpet, flugelhorn
Henry Lowther - trumpet, flugelhorn
Ian Haymer - trumpet, flugelhorn
Dave Hawler - trombone
Paul Rutherford - trombone
Hugh Frazer - trombone
Dave Stewart - trombone
Duncan Lamont - saxophone
Ray Warleigh - saxophone
Stan Sulzmann - saxophone
Evan Parker - saxophone
Julian Arguelles - saxophone
Mike Walker - guitar
John Taylor - piano
Mick Hutton - bass
John Marshall - drums
Norma Winstone - vocals

remastered by EN from a 1st-gen Hi-Fi VHS tape of a BBC broadcast

fits on two CDs if you break after the first track of the Crawley set
both shows zipped together
These are two stellar sets, both well representative of the artistry of Kenny Wheeler, and I trust you'll enjoy both as we acknowledge the life and legacy of one of the most prolific and lyrical trumpeteers of our lifetimes.--J.


  1. Many thanks for the re-up of these great concerts.
    I was so lucky to know personally Kenny and meet him many times. A wonderful and shy person and a huge musician.
    The first time I listened to him was on one of my very first albums I ever bought when I was a boy, "Solar Plexus" by Ian Carr's Nucleus, still a favourite of mine.

  2. Is it possible to re-up this, please? Kenny Wheeler was such an extraordinary artist and I would love to hear these concerts. Thanks so much!