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Book: Song for Someone: The Musical Life of Kenny Wheeler

Chapter: Music for Large and Small Ensembles: (1984-1995)

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.25560


This is perhaps one of the golden periods in Kenny’s musical life. He was touring with Dave Holland’s new quintet alongside saxophonist Steve Coleman and drummer Marvin ‘Smitty’ Smith, and in the late 80s Kenny formed his own all-star quintet – again with Holland, plus Peter Erskine, John Abercrombie and John Taylor. The band toured the UK and Europe to huge acclaim, recorded the ECM album The Widow in the Window, and formed the rhythm section for his 60th Birthday big band tour. This tour saw the premiere of the seminal Suite Time Suite, which was recorded for the ECM double album Music for Large and Small Ensembles. Kenny also recorded the album Flutter By, Butterfly for the Italian Soul Note label, which featured his now frequent saxophonist partner, Stan Sulzmann. During this time he was commissioned to set some poetry to music, some of which was released decades later on the 2012 album, Mirrors. Wheeler also became a member of George Gruntz’ all star large ensemble and maintained further live broadcasts of his own music with the BBC. But one of his best-selling ECM albums, and one of his last, was yet to be recorded.

Chapter Contributors

  • Brian Shaw ( - brianshaw) 'Louisiana State University'
  • Nick Smart ( - nsmart) 'Royal Academy of Music'