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Song for Someone: The Musical Life of Kenny Wheeler

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Kenny Wheeler (1930-2014) is one of the most enigmatic and influential jazz musicians in recent memory. His musical life spanned most of the developments in jazz from 1950 onward, placing him at the centre of every major innovation in modern European jazz during the last half century. For the first time, this book brings together existing information on Wheeler as well as many new interviews, research and insight. A paradoxical theme emerges, revealing a sense of duality in nearly every aspect of his life: famously shy whilst equally determined, structured but free, melancholic yet fiery. The book covers his unexpected move from Canada to England, early success with John Dankworth, international recognition through associations with ECM and Dave Holland, and eventual acknowledgement as one of the great jazz innovators. His unique position as a composer and player straddling the conventional jazz, free improvisation, and commercial studio communities, means that his story is as much a perspective on the history and development of jazz in Britain and Europe as it is an extraordinary tale of this unlikely pioneer. From his early life in his native Canada to his omnipresence on the contemporary European jazz scene, Kenny Wheeler’s life is an intriguing story.

Published: Sep 1, 2024