The new album from Kenny Wheeler titled What Now? consists of eight originals written by Kenny Wheeler on his ever present flugelhorn rounded out by Chris Potter on tenor sax, John Taylor on piano, Dave Holland on bass and there is no drummer.
Wheeler began playing trumpet at the age of twelve. He attended Toronto’s Royal Conservatory then moved to London in his twenties appearing with the John Dankworth Orchestra at the 1959 Newport Jazz Festival. In the 1970s, Wheeler was a mainstay with Anthony Braxton and went on to sigh with ECM and record a very well received album Gnu High with Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette and Keith Jarrett.
In 2004, Wheeler celebrated his 75th birthday by releasing a duo recording with pianist John Taylor Where Do We Go From Here? This new album of new originals includes John Taylor on exceptional piano and not just background noise. He is not just giving everyone a ‘vamp’ to work with, as Taylor stays with everyone. He plays an excellent solo in "March Mist" and waltzes through "The Sweet Yakity Waltz." Track Four entitled "The Lover Mourns" reminds one of an updated Coltrane sound. Chris Potter, though not trying to be Coltrane, does his best to extend what Coltrane was doing--a sort of "Coltrane for lovers or ballads," yet making it a Chris Potter original.
What can be said about Dave Holland that has not already been said? His big band albums have taken off within the past couple of years and he is back to being a sideman in this recording with an always dependable beat that Potter, Wheeler and Taylor in time. This new album from Kenny Wheeler is phenomenal. You would think with waltzes and a love song or two that you would need the help of a drummer to waltz your way through it or the use of brushes in the ballads. However, this album by Wheeler and associates proves that you do not. Through the fine work of Taylor, the Coltrane sound of Potter, the independence of Holland and Kenney Wheeler with his flugelhorn, this album has more of a quartet feel not just one big name and three sidemen.