Reviews that mention Kenny Wheeler

February 6, 2018

Spontaneous Music Ensemble (1968)

Karyobin are the imaginary birds said to live in paradise
Emanem 5046

Steve Lacy

Free for a Minute (1965-72)

Emanem 5210

Hans Reichel (1973)

Wichlinghauser Blues

Corbett vs. Dempsey CvsD CD 033

Roscoe Mitchell (1977)

Duets with Anthony Braxton

Delmark/Sackville SK 3016

Something In The Air: Historical Free Music Documents Reappear on CD

By Ken Waxman

Arguably the most important and least understood sound of the 20th Century, Free Music which combined jazz’s freedom with noted music’s rigour, while aiming for in-the-moment creation has now been around for almost six decades. With its advances now accepted as part of the ongoing sonic landscape, long out-of-print are being reissued and reappraised for their excellence. MORE

April 6, 2017

Spontaneous Music Ensemble

Withdrawal (1966/7)
Emanem 5040

Barry Guy

The Blue Shroud

Intakt CD 266

By Ken Waxman

Organization and innovation are the concepts most closely associated with British bassist Barry Guy. A classically trained musician, he early on established himself as a masterful soloist in groups led by pianist Howard Riley and others. By his mid-twenties however, Guy, who turns 70 this month, had made in music the same sort of transcendental leap Woody Allen effected in film by demonstrating memorable skills as director as well as actor. Guy’s founding of and compositions for the London Jazz Composers’ Orchestra in 1972 demonstrated that precise notation and free-form improvisation could coexist. From then on, like a hyperactive Jekyll and Hyde, the bassist has enthusiastically directed and played with large ensemble while utilizing his string prowess in a dizzying number of smaller bands. MORE

February 11, 2016

Paul Bley

A Modern Jazz Piano Master
By Ken Waxman

Paul Bley who died at 83 in early January was probably never bothered that he was usually described as Canada’s second best-known jazz pianist; Oscar Peterson was the first. But Bley, who shared a Montreal birth with Peterson, and who similarly was honored with induction into the Order of Canada in 2008 – albeit 30 plus years after Peterson – was for all intents and purposes a much more radical pianist than O.P. Peterson, seven years Bley’s senior, was a flamboyant stylist who adapted Art Tatum’s all-encompassing swing era techniques to the structure of modern jazz during an almost incalculable number of performances from the late 1940s until his death in 2007. However Bley, represented on more than 100 discs during his career, cycled through a variety of keyboard strategies from the outgoing to the cerebral, eventually matching the atonality of off-centre techniques with straightforward, melodically measured motion. He was also one of the first serious improvisers to deal with the sonic possibilities that could be extracted from the then brand-new portable Moog synthesizer. Later, such better-known pianists as Keith Jarrett, The Bad Plus’ Ethan Iverson and Satoko Fujii developed their playing following the examples of Bley’s breakthroughs. MORE

October 2, 2012

Foxes Fox

Live at the Vortex
psi 12.01

He now may be 82 and be best known for the dreamier ballads he often plays with his own groups, but this set proves that trumpeter/flugelhornist Kenny Wheeler can hold his own in any invigorating Free Jazz session. Of course it helps that the Canadian-born, London-resident Wheeler showed up as a special guest with a quartet consisting of players he has worked with for years in different contexts.

A true all-star ensemble, Foxes Fox consists of tenor saxophonist Evan Parker, pianist Steve Beresford, bassist John Edwards and percussionist Louis Moholo-Moholo. On their own the four exhibit the depth of their interaction in the more than 38½-minute “Foxes Set 1”. Characterized by unmistakable reed slurs from Parker, his wide vibrato and boisterous tone smears are meticulously set up by Beresford’s cascading glissandi and key clicks, Edwards’ pumps and side sawing runs and Moholo-Moholo’s rattling backbeat. MORE

May 21, 2012

Graham Collier

Relook: A Memorial 75th Birthday Celebration
Jazz Continuum No #

During an historic career in composed and improvised music that lasted more than 55 years, British bassist/educator Graham Collier (1937-2011) was familiar with, and arguably mastered, every type of jazz as a player and writer. Yet, as demonstrated by the 20 selections of this career retrospective, organized by Collier himself before his unexpected death, his greatest achievements were in the realm of modern, straight-ahead big band Jazz

As the tracks recorded from 1963 to 2004 on this two-CD set illustrate, Collier’s skill was second to none. But qualifiers have to be added about modern, straight-ahead big band Jazz. That`s because the ever-changing, non-atonal music which Collier dedicated his professional life to was increasing being compromised by Jazz’s neo-cons, whose rightful rejection of fads such as fusion and hip-hop, also led to a codification of what they consider “real Jazz”. The bassist’s writings in books and articles strongly argued against these retrogressive blinders and listeners will surely note how his own musical work put a lie to narrow classifications. MORE

March 14, 2011

ECM 40th Anniversary Catalogue

Edited by Kenny Inaoka
Tokyo Kirarasha

Tell No Lies Claim No Easy Victories

Edited by Phillipp Schmickl

Impro 2000

As globalization intensifies, American-birthed popular music forms – most especially Jazz and Improvised Music – have evolved far beyond their initial audiences, confirming one of the hoariest of clichés, that music is a universal language. Creative music of many stripes has for many years been often treated more seriously in Europe and Asia than in North America. Consequently to be truly informed about the breadth of musical sounds it helps to understand other languages besides English. That’s the challenge related to the valuable books here. Neither is published primarily in English, but both can serve as resources for followers of Jazz and Improvised Music, no matter their native tongues. MORE

December 23, 2008

Graham Collier

Deep Dark Blue Centre/ Portraits/The Alternate Mosaics
BGO CD 822

Mike Osborne Trio

All Night Long

Ogun OGCD 029

While most of the attention in Britain and overseas in the late 1960s, early 1970s was focused on progressive rock and pop music coming from England, far more notable sounds were being developed outside of the mainstream. Although the most far-reaching of these advances may turn out to be the non-idiomatic improv advanced by the likes of Derek Bailey and Evan Parker, two other strains deserve attention.

One, represented here by Graham Collier’s session for septet and sextets, collected from three different LPs, expressed the depths of the composer-arranger’s art. Its variations on color, texture, space and voicing cemented Collier’s reputation in that tricky hyphenate’s top ranks. All Night Long on the other hand, is a free-for-all blowing session from three musicians who while fellow travellers, were not fundamental believers in Bailey-Parker-styled lower-case pure improv. MORE

December 23, 2008

Mike Osborne Trio

All Night Long
Ogun OGCD 029

Graham Collier

Deep Dark Blue Centre/ Portraits/The Alternate Mosaics

BGO CD 822

While most of the attention in Britain and overseas in the late 1960s, early 1970s was focused on progressive rock and pop music coming from England, far more notable sounds were being developed outside of the mainstream. Although the most far-reaching of these advances may turn out to be the non-idiomatic improv advanced by the likes of Derek Bailey and Evan Parker, two other strains deserve attention. MORE

November 25, 2008

Alexander Von Schlippenbach-Globe Unity Orchestra

Globe Unity - 40 Years
Intakt CD 133

Schlippenbach Trio

Gold Is Where You Find It

Intakt CD 143

More than 70 years old, pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach is one more proof of Steve Lacy’s adage that “free jazz keeps you young”. A professional musician since 1962, Berlin-based Schlippenbach has maintained his level of creativity in various contexts, most prominently in the trans-European Globe Unity Orchestra (GUO) and his trio with saxophonist Evan Parker and drummer Paul Lovens. MORE

August 4, 2006

Louis Moholo-Moholo

Bra Louis-Bra Bra-Tebs/Spirits Rejoice
Ogun CD017/018

Sole survivor of the legendary Blue Notes band that left Apartheid-era South Africa in the mid-1960s, drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo finally returned permanently to Cape Town in 2004. But during the three decades that he and his fellow exiled countrymen lived in Europe they added an undiluted tincture of African sensibility to the developing Free Music scene.

This CD assembles two important large group sessions. Spirits Rejoice, released on LP in 1978, is an octet date, which finds the drummer and two other expatriate South Africans – bassist Johnny Dyani, another former Blue Note, and bassist Harry Miller, who left the country on his own – working out with the ne plus ultra of BritImprov including trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, tenor saxophonist Evan Parker and pianist Keith Tippett. Elaborated are five longish pieces that mix Xhosa tribe rhythmic inflections, revivalist hymns and freeform Energy Music. MORE

October 17, 2005

GRAHAM COLLIER

Workpoints
Cuneiform Rune 213/214

More important for jazz in its day than Wynton Marsalis winning the Pulitzer prize for music, London-based bassist Graham Collier’s “Workpoints” was awarded the first-ever commission for jazz from the Arts Council of Great Britain in 1967.

WORKPOINTS, the CD, preserves a 1968 live version of the four-part suite plus two shorter numbers performed by a dozen of the United Kingdom’s best jazzers of the day. Coupled with it is LIVE IN MIDDLEHEIM, a Collier sextet date from more than seven years later. Featuring “Darius”, another of the bassist’s extended works and four other tracks, it’s looser and features guitar and the dreaded electric piano that are absent on “Workpoints”. MORE

April 26, 2004

KENNY WHEELER

Song for Someone
psi 04.01

Epitome of the polite, quiet Canadian, trumpeter/flugelhornist Kenny Wheeler has now lived in Great Britain for more than a half century. During that time he’s gone from playing in large dance and bebop bands to working with international free music ensembles to creating a modified synthesis of all those influences as his own music.

This direct reissue of a 1973 LP may have been when it was first released the most conventional item on what was then guitarist Derek Bailey’s and saxophonist Evan Parker’s Incus label. Wheeler had already played free music with drummer John Stevens and was soon to begin an association with experimenters like American reedist Anthony Braxton and the German-based Globe Unity Orchestra. But except for a couple of tracks, the pieces he wrote for this date mostly meld his big band past with his moody, reflective streak. MORE

November 18, 2002

SPRING HEEL JACK

Amassed
Thirsty Ear TH 57123.2

Note: this CD project was done by certified professionals. Kids don’t try to replicate it at home.

That fanciful slogan could be attached on a parental advisory sticker for this disc. For despite the proliferation of less expensive computer mixing and sampling equipment over the past few years, producing a CD which melds improvised music and studio-created sounds is much more difficult than your average club remix.

But Britons John Coxon and Ashley Wells, who operate as Spring Hell Jack (SHJ), know exactly what they’re doing, as this session aptly demonstrates. Many attempts by others are embarrassing, unmusical, or both. MORE

January 24, 2002

ANTHONY BRAXTON

News from the 70s
Felmay/Newtone FY 7005

With his MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” and his tenured position at Wesleyan University now part of his storied past, it would seem that Anthony Braxton has attained the respect he deserves as an academic and a serious American composer. However, a document like this CD -- or “text” as the academics would term it -- serves as a reminder of how he achieved what he did.

Organized by Italian jazz writer Francesco Martinelli and consisting of almost 75 minutes of tapes from Braxton’s private tape stash, the newest track dates from 1976 and the oldest from 1971. Braxton’s improvising and band leading is emphasized as much as his composing here, and hearing him in contexts ranging from solo to quartet you quickly pick up on the skill, technique and intensity that drew people to him in the first place. Hitherto-unknown compositions and new versions of older compositions are exposed, as are unique or under-recorded partnerships. MORE

December 3, 2001

GLOBE UNITY ORCHESTRA

Globe Unity ’67 & ‘70
Atavistic Unheard Music UMS/ALP 223 CD

Souvenirs of a time when “globe unity” meant more than the convergence of commercial or military interests, this CD of never-before-released tracks feature a small army of Euro improvisers luxuriating in the freedom promulgated by John Coltrane’s ASCENSION and The Jazz Composer’s Orchestra.

Formed in late 1966, following a Berlin Jazz Festival commission for founder/pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, the Globe Unity Orchestra (GUO) evolved over the years from this wild-and-wooly Energy ensemble to one that joined other European large groups in a concern for compositions. Besides, many might find that these two pieces, initially taped for German radio, more exciting than what came from the band afterwards. MORE