Book: Song for Someone: The Musical Life of Kenny Wheeler
Chapter: Gnu High: (1974-1984)
Even by his standards, this was a prolific time for Kenny. Now considered a modern classic, Kenny’s ECM debut Gnu High was far from an easy ride for the trumpeter. In the recording sessions for this, pianist Keith Jarrett’s chilly reception did not set Kenny’s nervous personality at ease. Nevertheless, the album established Wheeler’s relationship with the German record label, which would last to his final recording and cement his reputation as a pioneer of an increasingly identifiable European jazz sound. Soon thereafter, John Taylor formed the trio, Azimuth with Kenny and Norma Winstone. His work with this group complemented his own albums and became another significant part of his catalogue. Kenny’s session work was increasingly replaced with jazz opportunities. He was invited to join the new Dave Holland Quintet at around the same time that Holland took over as director of the jazz program at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Alberta, Canada. Dave invited Kenny onto the faculty, and this position introduced many young international musicians to Kenny and his music.