COMPOSERS: Kenny Wheeler Big Band
LABELS: Cam Jazz
ALBUM TITLE: Kenny Wheeler Big Band
WORKS: The Long Waiting
PERFORMER: Kenny Wheeler (flugelhorn), Stan Sulzmann, Julian Siegel, Julian Argüelles (sax), Mark Nightingale (tb) etc
CATALOGUE NO: CAMJ 7848-2
There seems to be something about certain British jazz composers like Kenny Wheeler (Stan Tracey is another), that sees their output reaching a high point of quality somewhere in mid-career. They then confound all expectations by exceeding their already high standards as they become a jazz elder statesman. Wheeler remains the doyen of modern big band orchestration, blessed as he is with the rare ability to make the most dramatically contemporary ideas sound as if they are deeply embedded in the tradition, while at the same time making the tradition sound as if it was invented yesterday.
This selection of eight pieces is a case in point, their glorious melodies gently massaged into attractively idiosyncratic shapes by a high-end band that has superb command of the material. The sound, however, while not exactly bad, has a 1980s-style digital shrillness which you’ll need to listen past in order to enjoy the music.