i believed an assortment of untruths when i was young (oh my god, is this me confessing in cyberpublic that i am old?), and they have now since been blown out of the water. examples? you got 'em: eating out for every meal is a great idea. coffee is for sissies. my metabolism will keep on boiling like this throughout my days. there will never be overturned calls in major league baseball. white socks with black dress pants is ballin'. cars are cheap. stargazing is boring. chicks dig guys who curse. music is about having super chops. my heroes will live forever.
i can't believe that the great kenny wheeler has passed. he is one of the first people i ever heard that helped me recognize that developing my own voice needed to be my top priority. his sound maintained a fragile confidence. i felt like he was willing to die on the sword for his ideas, for every last night. and the way he would puncture the stratosphere with squeezes that often seemed like they might not (but always did) make it. pure magic.
his voice wasn't only in his tonal concept, but also in the way he navigated harmonic structures and rhythmic puzzles. he was deceptive, calculating, always in control, mystical. i want to lean on notes like kenny, open notes like kenny, omit notes like kenny, shine on notes like kenny.
i had the opportunity to enjoy three views of the secret that is gentle piece. it was one of the first tunes i played with my college jazz band. i had the lee konitz solo in the band and fell head-over-heels for the changes. such a beautiful work, and it deserved me pouring my sweat & tears into it. much later, i had the absolute pleasure of seeing kenny when my friends bob & chris brought him to their school and recreated the entire collection from music for large and small ensembles, complete with norma winstone's gorgeous countermelodies and whisps of light from john abercrombie. kenny sat throughout the show and was unbelievable. un-be-LIEVABLE. i was so moved that i brought the tune again to my band and did it on a concert a couple years ago. my kids were smitten by the music, and most probably couldn't tell you a thing about kenny wheeler if you slapped twenty bucks on the table.
angel song came out at the right time for me, a time when i needed real stuff to light my path. frisell is perfect for this record, dave holland fits nicely with the tunes, and lee is god's foil for kenny. onmo and nicolette are perfection. this album singlehandedly directed the next ten years of my life, and still rides shotgun today.
may your soul rest peacefully, mr. wheeler. many thanks.