January-31st-2005, 07:47 PM
The Music of Kenny Wheeler - Cleveland Jazz Orchestra
I made a mental note of this when I first heard of it months ago; the specific Kenny Wheeler music they played was the "Sweet Time Suite" from Music for Large Ensembles , one of my alltime favorite discs. The Orchestra is a bunch of players around town, most of which are educators but there's at least one lawyer in the mix, that range from pretty good to keyboard player Dan Wall, who has appeared on a number of ECM recordings. Apparently this is the first step in their drive to spruce up their repertoire (upcoming will be George Russell's New York New York and big band arrangements of Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays' music which I'll try to attend) and I have to believe that this was an overwhelming success.
The first set was original compositions by the orchestra members that sounded like they were written to be in an opening set for Wheeler's music. They just sounded that way to me; it's not like they were bad or anything, in fact they were quite good, except the last piece could've used some major editing. But it got things off to a very good start.
After an intermission they started right into the Wheeler suite and it was very well done. I had heard that they weren't going to use a vocalist; which really baffled me since I can't imagine that piece without Norma Winstone. But my advance info was incorrect since they employed a vocalist who is apparently a regular with them and she did a nice job. She didn't sing the solo intro to "Consolation", which I think was a smart thing because I don't think she could've pulled it off. But she did a fine job on the rest of Winstone's parts which generally blend in with the band as yet another instrument (except for the banal lyrics of the one song which Nate has mentioned before; she did fine).
Everybody else was in fine form and played interestingly personal versions of the solo slots; but so much of the music *is* the gorgeous charts. There was some talk that they'd have liked to have flown Wheeler out here for this but were too strapped for cash; I'm not sure if that would've been all that great for Wheeler (vacation in Cleveland, OH BOY!!!) but maybe I'm wrong. Anyway it was a wonderful tribute to a fine piece of music.
With some of my acquaintances afterward, we were talking about whether this will increase the appeal of the orchestra (this is not a topic that I particularly relish; maybe if I was Reid....). The others were saying that there were a number of youngsters in the audience that might come back after something like this. First of all, most of the orch members are music teachers and I imagine that a number of the audience members were their students in somewhat of a command performance. Granted, hearing something like this is akin to going to Charles Ives night with the Cleveland Orchestra and watching the bluehairs scurrying to the exits. I would hope that most of the audience didn't need to recapture their youth by hearing Stan Kenton one more time. But that's neither here nor there to me; the performance was well received by old and young. We'll see what happens.
Last edited by Captain Hate; January-31st-2005 at 07:48 PM.
February-1st-2005, 03:38 AM
I haven't heard this disc might be worthy tribute but Kenny Wheeler himself is still going strong in his own work , writing and playing with a new band, some of the top Brit jazz players
February-1st-2005, 05:46 PM
The disc I mentioned is Wheeler's on ECM from 1990. I figured Wheeler is still going strong which is another reason why I didn't think it would really be worth his while to attend this.
Originally Posted by LutherBlissett