Everybody’s Song But My Own: (1959-1968)

Song for Someone: The Musical Life of Kenny Wheeler - Brian Shaw

Brian Shaw [+-]
Louisiana State University
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Brian Shaw is Associate Professor of Trumpet and Jazz Studies at Louisiana State University. He also serves as Principal Trumpet of the Baton Rouge Symphony, Co-Principal Trumpet of the Dallas Wind Symphony, and enjoys an international performing career on modern and Baroque trumpets. As a jazz musician and scholar, Shaw has served as a consultant to both the Kenny Wheeler Archive and Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Louis Armstrong Archive at Queens College. In recognition of his scholarship, Shaw was honored with one of only six Rainmaker awards given to LSU faculty in 2013. His book, Kenny Wheeler: Solo Transcriptions, is published by Universal Edition. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife Paula, their son Thomas, and their house full of rescued pets.
Nick Smart [+-]
Royal Academy of Music
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Head of Jazz at the Royal Academy of Music, Nick Smart is an internationally renowned jazz educator, trumpeter and musical director who has given guest masterclasses and performances around the world. In 2013 he was the winner of the prestigious UK Parliamentary Award for Jazz Education. Throughout the UK he is recognised as one of the leading musicians on the London jazz scene, where as well as being in regular demand as a sideman to players of all generations, he continues to record and tour with his own projects. In 2005 Nick released his debut album “Remembering Nick Drake” to critical acclaim. The album featured Smart’s arrangements of Nick Drake’s music played by an all star line-up including John Parricelli, Paul Clarvis, Christine Tobin and Stan Sulzmann amongst others. It was described by Straight No Chaser magazine as “…a future classic because it really captures all that is best about British jazz….” and by John Fordham in Jazz UK as “…fascinating music devoted to a fascinating inspiration.” In December 2008 Nick released his highly praised trio album “Remembering Louis Armstrong” featuring Hans Koller and Paul Clarvis. His latest band, Nick Smart’s Trogon, merges contemporary jazz sounds with Afro Cuban concepts and released the album "Tower Casa" on Babel Records in November 2013, described in the Guardian's 4 star review as "an undemonstratively idiosyncratic fusion, and Smart plays with brightness, tight timing and subtle intonation throughout." His versatility as a trumpet player has allowed him to perform alongside many international jazz stars including George Russell, Bob Brookmeyer, John Hollenbeck, the New York Voices, Mike Gibbs and Dave Douglas, as well as most of the leading names on the UK jazz scene. Amongst other things Nick was a member of the late Kenny Wheeler’s Big Band, with whom he had a long association and is widely recognised as an expert in Wheeler's music. He plays in a new quartet from saxophone star Stan Sulzmann and has recorded on the new album of vocalist Christine Tobin in her interpretations of Leonard Cohen songs. As an acclaimed musical director of large ensembles, Nick conducts the Stan Sulzmann Big Band (Neon Orchestra) and the Troyka large ensemble, “Troykestra”. He also performs internationally as the regular soloist with the James Taylor Quartet.


One of Kenny’s first concerts with Dankworth was the now legendary appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1959. He would continue to record and tour with Dankworth, soon becoming a featured soloist. Alongside this work he was becoming increasingly busy with commercial sessions and sideman work. Kenny soon made his first few trips to perform in Europe and his reputation began to grow. In the active and highly fertile period of the late 1960s, Kenny began to meet many of the new wave of young musicians who would become life-long collaborators. It was also a period where his increasing frustration with (what he perceived as) his failure to master bebop meant that he actively sought out the burgeoning free jazz scene at the Little Theatre Club, led by John Stevens and the Spontaneous Music Ensemble. Alongside his increased involvement in the free scene, he began to play with almost every significant ensemble in London at the time, including those led by Mike Westbrook, Graham Collier and John Surman. He formed musical friendships with bassist Dave Holland (who would later join Miles Davis), as well as his future Azimuth trio partners, pianist John Taylor and vocalist Norma Winstone. A chance encounter led to him hearing a record by the trumpeter Booker Little, which would have a profound effect on him and consolidate the formation of his musical approach. The chapter closes with the story behind his debut and now landmark album as a composer and soloist, Windmill Tilter.

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Shaw, Brian; Smart, Nick. Everybody’s Song But My Own: (1959-1968). Song for Someone: The Musical Life of Kenny Wheeler. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Sep 2024. ISBN 9781781792193. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=25557. Date accessed: 03 Dec 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.25557. Sep 2024

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