By the same authors

Know Where You Are: Kenny Wheeler, the performers' composer

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review




ConferenceTime Captured - Jazz Composition, Composing and Composers
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Conference date(s)7/04/118/04/11

Publication details

DatePublished - 7 Apr 2011
Original languageEnglish


In a 2010 article on Kenny Wheeler for the Guardian newspaper, John Fordham noted that Wheeler ‘writes deceptive themes that seem guileless on the surface but turn out to have harmonic twists that imply more unsettling stories beneath – and thereby open up a wealth of fresh options for the improvising interpreters who turn to his work so often.’ (John Fordham, ‘Kenny Wheeler: quiet man on the cutting edge’ The Guardian Thursday 14 October 2010.)

Perhaps the main challenge for a jazz composer is that of achieving a balance between compositional originality whilst creating opportunities and space for improvising musicians. As Fordham notes the proof of the pudding is in the eating and the fact that improvising musicians turn regularly to Wheeler’s compositions is testament to his stature in this regard.

This paper considers the composition ‘Know Where You Are’ from Wheeler’s iconic ‘The Sweet Time Suite’ (Music for Large and Small Ensembles, ECM records, 1990). It will discuss the harmonic twists and rhythmic shifts in the composition whilst seeking to understand the how the improvising musician can play a meaningful role in such a complex compositional framework.


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