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Friday, January 15, 2010

Kenny Wheeler's 80th birthday!




"Highly acclaimed trumpeter and composer Kenny Wheeler celebrated his 80th birthday yesterday, January 14th with a special gala concert at London’s Royal Academy of Music, that will include the ‘Sweet Time Suite’ from his noted ECM album "Music for Large and Small Ensembles".

Wheeler, who was born in Toronto, Canada in 1930 and studied at the Toronto Conservatory before moving to the UK in 1952, played with John Dankworth until the mid-1960s when he played with Ronnie Scott and Joe Harriott among others before developing a keen interest in free improvisation and playing with John Stevens, Tony Oxley and Anthony Braxton.

Through his subsequent groups, including Azimuth with John Taylor and Norma Winstone, the Dave Holland Quintet and the quartet with John Abercrombie, John Taylor and Peter Erskine and his own big band, Wheeler became a highly regarded composer and trumpeter and a big influence on subsequent generations of UK musicians.

The 80th birthday gala concert, which has been organized by colleagues at the Royal Academy of Music, where he is a patron, featured Wheeler playing small ensemble pieces in the first set before being joined by a large cast of musicians for ‘Sweet Time Suite’, conducted by Pete Churchill and featuring many from the original recording, including Norma Winstone, John Taylor, Henry Lowther, Derek Watkins, Ray Warleigh, Stan Sulzmann, Evan Parker, Duncan Lamont and Julian Arguelles. Also featured are John Paricelli, Chris Laurence, Martin France, Nikki Iles, Mark Nightingale and the Academy’s Nick Smart. Dave Holland was also set to join Wheeler at the Academy for the gala concert.

All musicians performed without fee and proceeds will go toward two Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prizes at the Academy."

Happy birthday, mr. Wheeler!

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