Kenny Wheeler

Jazz trumpeter and flügelhornist Kenny Wheeler was one of the most advanced voices on his instrument. Blessed with a full, lovely tone and an astounding range, Wheeler sounded equally at home in fiery free jazz explorations or softer, more lyrical post-bop meditations. Wheeler was born in 1930 in Toronto, Ontario, and began playing trumpet at age 12. After studying at Toronto's Royal Conservatory, he moved to London in 1952, where he gigged with swing and dance bands. He appeared with John Dankworth's orchestra at the 1959 Newport Festival and remained with that group until 1965. In 1966, Wheeler discovered free jazz, and, fascinated, joined John Stevens' Spontaneous Music Ensemble for the next four years. In addition, he played jazz-rock fusion with the Mike Gibbs Orchestra from 1969-1975, and joined Tony Oxley's sextet (along with free jazz giants like Derek Bailey and Evan Parker) from 1969-1972. Through the latter, Wheeler was invited to join German pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach's groundbreaking free jazz big band the Globe Unity Orchestra in 1970, an association Wheeler maintained for years to come.