|photo by L Pretaloni|
Kenny Wheeler was also quite a soloist on both his horns, a surprising who often leapt into the higher register of his instrument as a spark was running throughout his body. A gracious leader, he rarely hogged the spotlight, preferring to let others lead the way. On the 1996 ECM release, "Angel Song", Wheeler does not solo on the opening track "Nicolette" until both Holland and saxophonist Lee Konitz have had their respective time in the spotlight. That particular recording also featured guitarist Bill Frisell, the perfect mate for Holland in the drummer-less session plus a great match for the "open" quality of Wheeler's compositions.
Kenny Wheeler may have passed but his music will resonate for many years. His well-constructed melodies, many with long lines, and his splendid arrangements should, like the work of Bob Brookmeyer and Gil Evans, inspire musicians to never settle for the tried-and-true but to always to attempt to venture into unknown territories.
Ottawa Citizen scribe Peter Hum has collected a number of tribute in his latest blog post - click on the link below, read it and then go listen to Kenny Wheeler's music with open ears.