A word from Chris Laurence: "Two of these pieces were given to me in manuscript form by Ken Wheeler some time ago, but it’s only now that I have managed to record them. Ken was not only a prolific writer of jazz music, but was also extremely interested in all forms of composition. The ”Piece For Double Bass and Low Strings” and “Baroque Piece” are examples of his skill. He always liked me to play with the bow, to give the music another dimension.
C-Man was a piece he wrote when I first had a C-string extension fitted to my bass, and featured it on the album “Kayak". “Baroque Piece" was probably in his mind for us to perform together, unfortunately we never got the chance! I would like to thank all the great musicians that performed on this project. This recording has been made during lockdown, with all the restrictions and limitations that came with it! Hopefully it hasn’t affected the result?
With the assistance, great engineering skills and patience of Darren Williams, I hope we’ve got a recording that Ken would have approved of? Everybody involved has a special place in my musical life, particularly Frank Ricotti, Rita Manning, John Parricelli, Martin France and of course Pete Churchill, who managed to realise Ken’s handwritten score of the string piece, plus all the other players who contributed their musicality!" - Chris Laurence
Piece for Double Bass and Low Strings - Kenny Wheeler - A realisation: "I first heard Ken’s music when I was a student at the Guildhall (35 years ago!) and was completely smitten… we all were. So when Chris Laurence sent me a short score of a piece Kenny had written especially for him, and asked me if I could make sense of it with a view to getting it recorded, I jumped at the chance.
The original hand-written score consisted of two complete movements and then the beginnings of a final section that seemed to tail off - almost as though Ken had been interrupted. Thankfully he had returned to the score at some point and left us half a page of sketches for the last movement. So I set about the task of completing this piece for Chris - keenly aware of the responsibility.
Daunting as the task may have seemed, it was made easier because the fragments Ken had left were so fertile. It became clear that the best approach was to let these sketches develop the way they wanted to go - if I could just get myself out of the way the music would complete itself. At times the process was almost mystical.
This wonderful piece was Kenny Wheeler’s gift to Chris Laurence, a testament to their long friendship and musical relationship - and this resonates through every single note. It has been an immense privilege to be part of the team that has helped to bring it all to life." - Pete Churchill
released November 1, 2021
Piece for Double Bass and Low Strings:
Frank Ricotti - Vibraphone, Martin France - Drums, Rita Manning - Violin, Bill Hawkes & Katie Wilkinson - Violas, Nick Cooper & Ian Burdge - Cellos, Chris Laurence - Double Bass
Frank Ricotti - Vibraphone, John Parricelli - Guitar, Martin France - Drums, Chris Laurence - Double Bass
Tom Walsh - Flugel Horn, John Parricelli - Guitar, Chris Laurence - Double Bass
All tracks composed by Kenny Wheeler. ℗ 1-3 & 5 Copyright Control, 4 Budde Music UK
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Darren Williams 2020-2021 @ The Den Studios, Harpenden and Livingston Studios, London
Executive producers - John Thurlow & Matt Parker
Cover artwork - Brenda Goddard Designs
The cover picture depicts Kenny’s music room in his house in Wallwood Road, East London. Here he would play the trumpet, piano and compose, surrounded by manuscripts, books, cassettes, CD’s, his trumpet and flugelhorn. The album title is written in Kenny's own hand.
Producer - Chris Laurence