Interview with Pete Hurt

Photo by: Alex Bonney

Martin Speake Interviews - Kenny Wheeler 4/4/2012

 

This interview took place at the home of Kenny and Doreen Wheeler in Leytonstone, East London.

Doreen, Kenny’s wife was present and also spoke sometimes.

 

M-Martin Speake

K-Kenny Wheeler

D-Doreen Wheeler

 

Thanks to Laura Jurd for transcribing this.

 

M – The first question I normally ask people is where and when you were born?

 

K – Where… in Toronto I was born – 1930.

 

M – OK. And the next question is - what are your earliest memories of music either in the house, in the home or anywhere when you were a child?

 

K – Oh I just remember my father was a semi-professional trombone player. I remember him playing around the house, when I was quite young.

 

M- So that obviously influenced you?

 

K – Well ..also he liked a lot of the old big band music, you know like, Glen Miller and Tommy Dorsey and all that. So I got to hear a lot of that kind of music through his liking it, and I liked it as well so…

 

M – Did you like that immediately when you were a child?

 

K –No this is probably from the age of 8 or 9 when that happened, but then when I got to be, I don’t know, maybe 13 or 14 I started to hear about the Dixieland players you know like the jazz people like Wingy Manone, Muggsy Spanier and all them.

 

M – Was that through your father?

 

K – No just through me, I found out that there were these stations on the radio that played this jazz music and I started to seek them out. So I looked for myself for the jazz music.

 

M - On your own? Did you have school friends who were interested?

 

K – No, no, not in the early days no.

 

M – And by that time, when you say 13, 14 were you playing an instrument then already?

 

K – I think I’d just started to play cornet yeah.

 

M – Was that with school?

 

K –  No, it wasn’t at school, no it was in a place in Northern Ontario because we moved up there when I was about, 12 or 11 I think. That’s where I got the cornet, up there yeah.

 

M – And what kind of music were you playing?

 

K – As I said it was the old Dixieland music, which I heard first of all which I liked very much. Then I graduated on to Roy Eldridge and Buck Clayton and you know, people like that, the Coleman Hawkins and… I got interested more in the mainstream type music.

 

M – Were you trying to play like them? Did you try and copy them?

 

K – No I wouldn’t, I didn’t realise that I could copy them ever. I was just struggling with my instrument throughout that time yeah.

 

M – So it was jazz right from the beginning. Were you playing in brass bands?

 

K – No I didn’t play in any brass, well no… err I wonder what I did. I can’t remember that far back really but...

 

M – Well not classical music?

 

K – I’ve always liked classical music yeah.

 

M – Have you played classical music in orchestras or…

 

K – No, no I didn’t do that no.

 

M – And did you have lessons early on?

 

K – I had lessons early on, but… I never had a good teacher but, I think I went over to Toronto and had lessons from… oh from somebody over there I don’t know who it was but…

 

M – Was this trumpet lessons or jazz lessons?

 

K – No just trumpet lessons yeah.

 

M – And then, what was the next stage for you after that, after you got this interest in more mainstream? As a teenager what happened, did you start playing with other people around that time?

 

K – No I think when I was about, must have been about 13 then, when we moved to a place in… called Windsor in Ontario, which is across the river from Detroit… and then I was listening more to, whatever jazz stations I could find. Because there wasn’t much jazz on the radio then, you had to look for it.

 

M – And can you remember, so you still were not, you were listening and playing the instrument, but you were not playing with other musicians, other young musicians?

 

K – I did play in some bands around Windsor I think, but it’s so far back I can’t remember.

 

M – Yep. Well I’ll keep asking you different questions and whatever you remember is fine – whatever comes to you. So after your teens, what happened then?

 

K – Well when I was about, when I was 15 I think we moved to a place called St Catherine’s in Ontario and that’s when I finally met a group of like friends who were into jazz and they introduced me to bebop, so… and that was quite a shock hearing that for the first time.

 

M – What did you hear, can you remember?

 

K – I think I must’ve heard some of Charlie Parker and Dizzy I think.

 

M – And so, it was a shock because it was different from the mainstream?

 

K – Yeah, much different yeah… sounded like Chinese music to me.

 

M – So you didn’t like it at the time?

 

K – I didn’t like it at first but I was so happy to have finally met a group of friends who were in the same thing as me that I got to like it quite quickly, so…

 

M - Did you try and play any of that, those kinds of tunes? Learn them?

 

K – I thought there was, I was trying a bit to play like Miles Davis I think.

 

M – Can you remember whether you… whether you tried to copy anything from recordings - play along?

 

K – Oh no, I don’t think I did no. I was just still listening a lot.

 

M – And so did you have people to play with then, these other musicians?

 

K – Oh yeah, they were quite good players yeah.

 

M - But that would be the kind of tunes you would play then would it… tunes from that music?

 

K – Oh, things like ‘Lester Leaps In’ I guess, I don’t know. We played simpler tunes like that I think.

 

M – Yeah. What do you think your next development was after that? Did you… you seemed to… did you move two or three times then, as a child?

 

K – Around Ontario yeah, because my father kept changing jobs so... we finally settled in this place called St Catherine’s.

 

M – And was that the last place you lived in Canada, before you came to England?

 

K – In Canada yeah. Well I didn’t come to England until I was about 22 so…

 

M – Oh ok.

 

K – I spent my high school years in St Catherine’s.

 

M – So what did you do when you left school then? Were you playing?

 

K – Err, no I got different day jobs, you know. I worked in banks and insurance offices and things like that.

 

M – But continuing to play? In the evenings or…

 

K – I was still practising a bit I think, yeah.

 

M – How did that change then? How come you didn’t end up still doing a day job?

 

K – Well I was going to high school and I graduated from high school, but I had every subject but English. I had all the other subjects, but English I couldn’t get. And I think my father was, I think disappointed in me a little bit because I didn’t settle down into a normal day job. But eventually he, from looking around he found this course that you could, I could take at McGill University in Montreal, which would enable me to be a high school teacher. So, I went to McGill University with the money for the first term in my pocket. I walked around the university for a couple of days and realised that I couldn’t do this, I didn’t want to be a high school teacher. I suppose I didn’t want to do things so normal but… but at the same time in, working on a Montreal newspaper was a guy I went high school with in St Catherine’s called (Gene Lees) who became quite a famous lyric writer.

 

M – Oh I know who he is yeah! So you went to school with him?

 

K – No no I just, I met up with him on the way to Montreal.

 

M – Oh I see. Ok.

 

K – He worked on the newspaper there and He told me that the big bands were still happening in England. And the idea was, because I was playing quite good piano in those days, the idea was that I would come over to England and he would come over later and join me, because I played around Montreal with a piano a bit and I think he must’ve thought I was good enough to, to join so… but he never did arrive.

 

M – He never came?

 

K – No (Laughs).

 

M – Did you keep in touch?

 

K – Over the years I did yeah, yeah.

 

M – I know him for err, well obviously writing the lyrics to a lot of Jobim tunes.

 

K – Yeah ‘Quite Nights’ and things like that yeah.

 

M – Yeah, I like one of the books, ‘Meet Me at Jim and Andy’s’.

 

K – Oh yeah, I’ve never actually read it but it’s a good book I know.

 

M – Yeah there’s a very good chapter on, well a lot of people – Paul Desmond, Bill Evans… that was a great book. So you were friends with him.

 

K – He was a great writer yeah.

 

M – Did, does he, did he play?

 

K – He sang a bit, not all that good but in a little bit in the Sinatra tradition.

 

M – Oh ok. And so he was encouraging you to come to England.

 

K – Yeah, that’s all I needed, when he said the big bands were still happening there, I went and spent the money for my first term on a boat trip to England.

 

M – (Laughs). So did you know anybody here?

 

K – I didn’t know a soul no.

 

M – So where were you going to stay?

 

K – I met a trio on the boat, a Canadian trio… I think piano… piano, bass and guitar. And they were quite friendly to me and they gave me an address of a boarding house in London where I could go, to stay you know because I didn’t know where, what to do when I arrived in London so… But being young and stupid, I guess I wasn’t too worried. I don’t know what I thought. I didn’t think about, anybody would take care of me or whatever.

 

M – And so that was, that’s 1952 is it?

 

K – Yeah.

 

M – And so up until then you had a day job?

 

K – No, the day jobs came somewhere between when I was 18 and 22, different day jobs.

 

M – And then when you left, that was the end of day jobs in Canada.

 

K – Yeah, no I still took , took a correspondence course over here. Still having my father in my mind I think. Thinking that maybe it would be a good idea to have something normal I could do.

 

M – A correspondence course in what?

 

K – I don’t know in what. Whatever it was I don’t know.

 

M – Ok, so what job did your father have then?

 

K – Sorry?

 

M – What job did your father have?

 

K – Oh he was an accountant.

 

M – Oh ok.

 

K – And a semi-professional trombone player.

 

M – Did you play together?

 

K – Well just at jam sessions at the house or something I would sometimes play… and he would play yeah so...

 

M – How did he feel about you coming to England then?

 

K – Well I never knew, because I never wrote home for about 3 weeks and…

 

M – What, he didn’t know you were here?

 

K – No they never knew I came.

 

M – (laughs) that’s fantastic!

 

K – So the letters were surprising them.

 

M -Wow that must have been a shock.

 

K -They were glad to hear from me I think.

 

M – I bet, so they didn’t know where you were then?

 

K – Not for 2 or 3 weeks anyway.. but they got in touch with the university and the university said, ‘we don’t know any Kenny Wheeler’. (Laughs).

 

M – They thought you were there?

 

K – Well yeah, because that’s were I was supposed to go.

 

M – (Laughs).That’s very good. And then so you came here… where was the boarding house?

 

K – Quite near Oxford Circus.

 

M – Oh right, very central.

 

K – Like a bed and breakfast place, yeah so…

 

M – How long were you in there?

 

K –  I must’ve stayed there for a few weeks… and then I started to seek out the local jazz clubs and went along there to visit a couple of times. I think I met a young guy who kind of checked hat and coat in a jazz club and he was quite friendly and he saw that I wasn’t sure if I had a place to stay, so he let me go back to his place to stay.

 

M – Can you remember what clubs there were at that time?

 

K – I think that there will have been… would have been the club 7 I think..

 

M- Ah yeah.

 

K- .. where the be-bop players played you know so…

 

M – Did you sit in?

 

K – I did sit in one night, I got up to sit in, everybody was very nice they let me sit in. They never paid any attention to me after that. Nobody said good or bad or anything so… I went into kind of shell after that.

 

M – In what way, you didn’t go back?

 

K – No I didn’t go back to any more jazz clubs.

 

M – Can you remember who heard when you came to England? What players?

 

K – Oh I think I heard Joe Harriott and Dizzy Reese and Leon Calvert. People like that. All the people there were.

 

M – Did you like it? Did you like the music?

 

K – Oh I did because by then I got used to it, I got to know it and I got to like it so…

 

M – They were playing more be-bop influenced music were they?

 

K – Yeah yeah…

 

M – So how were you surviving then?

 

K – (consults Doreen his wife) Yeah I got a job for the Christmas rush at the post office sorting out mail.

 

M – So it was just temporary was it?

 

K – Sorry?

 

M – That was just temporary? A temporary job.

 

K – A temporary thing yeah.

 

M – And what happened after that?

 

K – Well also then I found out, there was this street in the West End of London called Archer Street, where all the musicians graduated to on a Monday afternoon. I started to go up there to visit. And I think eventually somebody said they were looking for a trumpet player and somebody was giving me a job I guess. They didn’t know how I could play or anything so…

 

M – What kind of music would that have been?

 

K – Oh the music I was playing then you mean?

 

M – Well I mean, that Archer Street I know a little bit about. It was a bit before my time, but I was told it was more… although there were jazz musicians going there, the work that they got was often more commercial work.

 

K – Oh yeah, it was. Yeah. The first work I got was like a summer job on the Isle of Wight.

 

M – What for the whole summer?

 

K – The whole summer. By then we got married of course.

 

M – What year?

 

K – 53 wasn’t it? (speaking to Doreen).

 

M – So quite soon after you arrived then, so how did you meet?

 

Doreen – That’s another story. (Laughs)

 

M- Who wants to tell the story?

 

K – On the telephone we met!

 

M – On the telephone?

 

K – Well this guy who let me stay at his place, by the way that’s another part of another story that he lived with a homosexual man. He wasn’t homosexual himself, but the guy he lived with was homosexual. That didn’t bother me too much, but he had a girlfriend, I think who was Doreen’s friend. And I think she must’ve rang up sometime to say she couldn’t meet him or something?

 

M – You can speak Doreen. It’s fine! Go on Doreen here…

 

D – I rang up because he was a bit of a womaniser…

 

M – Who was?

 

D – Nicky who he stayed with.

 

M – Oh the friend. Ok.

 

D – I said to her go on, give me his phone number. So he answered the phone and said he would get in touch. And we just kept in touch by phone.

 

M – Just speaking.

 

D – And then we met. He took me to a jazz club which I never heard of. And we just didn’t talk all night long. As you can imagine…

 

M – You didn’t or you did?

 

D – We didn’t! And then he give me… he took me to a tube station because he met me at Bethnal Green and then he took me to the jazz club and then, let’s say he took me back to the tube station, bought the ticket and that was it. And then he wrote a letter to me, and then we started seeing one another again and then 5 months later we were married.

 

M – Wow.

 

D – Yeah it was 59 years, in March we’ve been married.

 

M – Congratulations! (laughs).

 

D – Carry on now (laughing).

 

M – Ok what was the gig you went to?

 

D – I haven’t the faintest idea because I didn’t know anything about jazz.

 

M – Right. Do you remember Kenny?

 

K – Might’ve been Tommy Whittle, I’m not sure.

 

M – Ok.

 

D – I think… oh I can’t remember.

 

M – So did you go to hear a lot of music around that time? A lot of British players?

 

K – I tried to yeah.

 

M – Did you ever sit in with anybody else?

 

K – No I never did after that no.

 

M – So after that, I’m intrigued at how you were surviving financially. So you gradually got some work through Archer Street?

 

K – Well there was the summer job, then I think I got a job with the Roy Fox band.

 

M – That’s the big band?

 

K – Yeah. That was big band with 3 trumpets and trombone and 3 saxes or something and that was the first steady job I had.

 

M – When you say steady, were they working every week or…?

 

K – No maybe 2 or 3 times a week they did yeah.

 

M – Gigs round the country, one-off?

 

K –Yeah travelling around England yeah.

 

M – Ok.

 

K – I did a couple of solos a night in that band like that. Maybe one 32 bar solo and one 16 bar solo or something.

 

M – And were there jazz players in that group?

 

K – Yeah, you know Johnny Scott, he’s now a big writer for films he was great flute player, he was in that band. And Tony Carr was the drummer.

 

M – Ok. So this would’ve been 53 would it? 1953?

 

K – Must’ve been 53 yeah, but getting into 54 I think.

 

M – Oh ok. Were you doing any small group playing?

 

K – Occasionally I did yeah. I mean, I think by then I’d met another Canadian called Art Ellefson  who had moved to London as well.

 

M – He was a saxophone player?

 

K – Yeah. He was a very good player yeah. He’s moved back to Canada now.

 

M – But you met him here, not in Canada?

 

K – No I met him here yeah. I did the odd gig with him.

 

M – Would you be playing standard tunes with him or…?

 

K – Oh yeah, standards yeah.

 

D – He was our best man. Art was our best man because Ken didn’t know anybody that year, that close.

 

M – Oh ok. And so did you start playing in other big bands at this time as well?

 

K – No mostly… I had the job with Tommy Whittle’s band, I think I told you that didn’t I?

 

M – You mentioned you went to see him play. I didn’t know... did he have a big band or was it a small band?

 

K – No he had a 9-piece band I think. Art Ellefson was in and Keith Christie was in… Joe Temperley was in it.

 

M – Yep.

 

K – Who’s now in the Orchestra of Manhattan…

 

M – Oh the Lincoln Centre.

 

K – The Lincoln Centre band yeah.

 

M – So at that time in England it seems that there was a lot of work for musicians and larger bands that could travel and do gigs.

 

K – Oh yeah there were a lot of big bands yeah.

 

M – Did you like it? Did you like playing with big bands?

 

K – You mean Tommy Whittle’s band?

 

M – Em, either of them. Roy Fox or Tommy’s…

 

K – Well I sort of enjoyed it, generally you know.

 

M – Was Tommy’s more of a jazz group do you think?

 

K – Oh yeah, it was more of a jazz group yeah.

 

M – More improvising?

 

K – He wrote more sort of stuff for it. He was a good writer.

 

M – How do you think you were playing then? I don’t mean whether you were good or bad but in what you were influenced by, stylistically?

 

K – Oh, it’s hard to say who. I had listened to you know all the be-bop players like Howard McGhee and Fats Navarro and all them. I don’t think I was trying to play like them, but it must’ve rubbed of a little bit on me what they were doing.

 

M – They were the main players you were listening to?

 

K – Well I listened to all the be-bop players, from Kenny Dorham to Fats Navarro, Howard McGhee… Dizzy and Miles of course. But still listening to, keeping my listening going to Roy Eldridge and Buck Clayton you know, still interested in them.

 

M – Yeah

 

K – That never died out so…

 

M – Did you ever see them play?

 

K – No I never did see them play no. I saw quite a lot of the old big bands when I lived in Canada because the big bands used to come through a place called Niagara Falls where they had a big arena. And everybody used to come through there like Lionel Hampton’s big band and Claude Thornhill, Woody Herman, Stan Kenton…. And all had good jazz players in the band.

 

M – That must’ve been quite exciting getting to hear all that music.

 

K – It was great getting to hear it yeah.

 

M – Did you hear Duke Ellington as well?

 

K – I did hear Duke Ellington when I lived in Windsor. My father took me over the river to Detroit to a stage show where you could see a big band and a film. And Duke Ellington’s band was on. I remember I was very impressed with that band yeah.

 

M – Did you see Count Basie as well, at any time?

 

K – No, not at that time I didn’t. I did see the Count Basie Band, was that was when I was over here I think? (asking Doreen).

 

M – So all this early big band influence must’ve contributed to you… because you’ve written for large ensembles all the time haven’t you in your career.

 

K – Well yeah, I never wrote much, any big band music then. I didn’t really start writing any big band music until the Johnny Dankworth days, yeah.

 

M – Which was, when was that? When did you first start playing with him?

 

K – Well I started playing with him in 1959 I think.

 

M  - So you played with him first and then wrote for that band?

 

K – Yeah I wrote a couple of arrangements for the band and he seemed to like them so … eventually I had to have three months off because I had wisdom tooth trouble and I wasn’t allowed to play for three months so Dankworth said to me – ‘Why don’t you try to write an album for the band? So I jumped at that idea. That’s when I wrote ‘Windmill Tilter’ so…

 

M – Ah yeah, ok. Are you … do you consider yourself self-taught as a writer or did you have lessons or study with anybody?

 

K – Well I studied counterpoint with Bill Russo.

 

M – Yeah

 

K – You know, who wrote for Stan Kenton’s band.

 

M – Yeah

 

K – And he was a great teacher. And I had a few lessons off Richard Rodney Bennett, the classical composer.

 

M – Yep

 

K – I think, he didn’t teach me counterpoint but he got me interested in writing for serial music and I wrote some pieces for 3 instruments I think. For oboe, clarinet and flute I think. And he thought they were so good that he eventually sent them to the Society for the Promotion of New Music and they were performed by them. But I never got to hear it, I don’t know what they were like?

 

M – Oh you haven’t heard them?

 

K – I never did hear them, no.

 

M – And that was serial composition those ones.

 

K – Well a three note series it was based on.

 

M – So what non-tonal?

 

K – So yeah, no it wasn’t tonal no.

 

M – That’s quite interesting because your music is strongly tonal isn’t it. Would you say?

 

K – Yeah I guess so, yeah.

 

M – So you haven’t written any thing like that since? Or have you?

 

K –  Not really no. I have tried to break away from the early Dankworth influences, but I guess I have a bit but …

 

M – When you say early, you mean his influence compositionally?

 

K – No I mean the days that I wrote for him.

 

M – Your earlier works?

 

K – Yeah yeah.

 

M – You tried to … what have you tried to break away from, what aspect of it?

 

K – I don’t know, I just tried to develop I think. But I think my music is still what you would call tonal I think.

 

M – Yeah

 

K – I still like a pretty tune you know, so …

 

M – And in the late 50s, when you started playing with Dankworth, how about influences there, in your trumpet playing? Did that change after listening to those be-bop players?

 

K – It must’ve changed a bit without me knowing it I think, I don’t know, because I was listening all the time to different players.

 

M – Have you ever transcribed anybody? Solos, or phrases …

 

K – I did a couple, I didn’t do it enough. I think you should do it more, musicians but …

 

M – What did you do? Who did you transcribe?

 

K – I think I tried to transcribe some of, not for trumpet playing but for composition, some of Gerry Mulligan’s Tentet music, which I like very much.

 

M – Oh ok, what you’d transcribe all the parts?

 

K – Yeah, everything. The basic idea of it anyway yeah.

 

M – But not, so not solos? Have you not done that?

 

K – I did a little bit, but not too much, no. I think I might have thought that if you did too much you might be too influenced by them or something, but…

 

M – Can you remember who you did?

 

K – Oh I don’t know, I think I might’ve done a couple of Freddie Hubbard things I think.

 

M – I’m intrigued, how did you do it? Did you play along with it or did you just write it down?

 

K – No I just tried to write it down, yeah.

 

M – And what would you do with it after that? Can you remember? Would you learn it?

 

K – No I didn’t, I just ... that was the end of it. When I had it written down I forgot about it.

 

M – Because you now, in quite a lot of jazz education it’s encouraged to transcribe a lot of solos.

 

K – Yeah they do don’t they… yeah.

 

M – It’s… you know, I mean I’m always intrigued by how other people have learnt, what they think about that idea.

 

K - Well I think it’s a good idea yeah.

 

M – Particularly the idea of taking things from it and playing them in all keys, for instance - you never did anything like that?

 

K – No I should’ve I suppose. Sometimes I take a pattern of my own that I’ve written and try to play it in all keys.

 

M – Ok. So at that time, I mean I know it’s a long time a go but I’m just thinking – what would you practice? What would you practice on your instrument? Would it be all technical, all trumpet technique or would you, would there be part of your practice that was about improvisation – and you’d be practising it?

 

K – No mostly trumpet playing and if there was any time left I might then try and play a standard or something like that.

 

M – Would you do that in all keys? Play the standard in all keys?

 

K – I should have done but I didn’t no. (Kenny laughs!)

 

M – You didn’t. What were the … going in to the 60s after you joined Dankworth … I mean would that band be working a lot - John Dankworth’s band?

 

K – Oh he must’ve worked 3 or 4 times a week I think.

 

M – So similar to the other bands that they were one-offs around the country?

 

K – Yeah yeah.

 

M – Just this country?

 

K – Well we went to Newport eventually, soon after I joined in 1959 the band went to Newport. And that was quite an experience that was yeah.

 

M – Did they play any of your music on that concert?

 

K – Oh I can’t remember if we played any. I don’t think we did. Because he was quite a strong writer himself, Dankworth so …

 

M – So they were the days when a British band could, a big band could go abroad and play. It’s very different from now.

 

K – Well I don’t know if any big bands… well we did go to Newport but that was unusual.

 

M – Oh ok, mainly they were playing in this country?

 

K – Yeah

 

M – The gigs were concerts were they? People were sitting down, it wasn’t a dance or…?

 

K – Well no I mean for the first few years I think people danced but gradually I think as the music got more complicated they just sat together to the front of the stage and listened to the music. They stopped the dancing.

 

M – Yeah

 

K – Because maybe the music was too complicated for them to dance to I don’t know?

 

M – How long did you remain in Dankworth’s band?

 

K – I suppose off and on until middle 70s I guess.

 

M – Because ‘Windmill Tilter’ was that late 60s?

 

K – Yeah late 60s yeah

 

M – But by this time you were playing, throughout the 60s you were playing in other groups? Is that right?

 

K – Well I don’t know when I met, the actual time when I met the free… the more free players like Evan Parker and Trevor Watts and people like that. That must’ve been in the late 60s or early 70s I guess.

 

M – Because you hadn’t played any free music before that had you? Or had you?

 

K – No not really but I was getting quite frustrated as a jazz player because I wasn’t getting any gigs you know. And there was good jazz players around London like Jimmy Deuchar and Hank Shaw who were great be-bop players, but I, for some reason or another, I never could consider myself a be-bop player, I never could play that much on the beat – you know what I mean?

 

M – Yeah

 

K – So I wasn’t getting many gigs and I got quite frustrated in it. I heard about this place called the Little Theatre Club where these musicians were playing this new kind of music called – they called it avantgarde in those days. That’s when I met John Stevens and Derek Bailey and Evan Parker. And then I went to listen and I hated it at first, I didn’t like it. But I went back a few nights and eventually they said well would you like to sit in? So I sat in and I just remember I went berserk on the trumpet! I think I got a lot out of my system that night. It was a funny feeling. And then I got asked around Europe a little bit to play that more free music because there was quite a scene around Europe between Germany, Holland and England with the free players.

 

M – And this was completely improvised music was it?

 

K – Well yeah some of it was like the Globe Unity band was often completely improvised. Although they wrote sometimes these, I don’t know what you call them, but pieces with directions on like…

 

M – Oh like a graphic sore?

 

K – That kind of thing yeah.

 

M – Ok. So that one time of sitting in at the Little Theatre Club started a whole new, brought you to a whole new area of music by the sound of it?

 

K – It did yeah.

 

M – So they must’ve obviously liked your playing? Evan and …

 

K - I guess they must’ve

 

M – That’s intriguing about the be-bop thing, that you’re saying that those other guys were getting the work because they could play…

 

K – Play be-bop yeah…

 

M – … more authentically

 

K – Yeah.

 

M – So it sounds like there was that scene going on, then there was this new scene as you explained. And you made albums with those people, you made albums with Derek Bailey and Evan at the time?

 

K – Yeah and Tony Oxley

 

M – So were you still playing with Dankworth’s band at the time?

 

K  - No I kind of petered out toward the end of the 70s I think yeah. Because he started to get more film work, which eventually I did some of that, but the big band kind of petered out.

 

M – So what other work were you doing? Because at that time there was a lot of studio work for musicians.

 

K – I was doing some studio work yeah. I didn’t like it but I did it.

 

M – That started in the 60s did it?

 

K – Well it must’ve been late 60s into early 70s yeah.

 

M – And what kind of music, pop music or all kinds of things?

 

K – Anything, whatever came up yeah.

 

M – Was that a lot? Did you do a lot of work? Was it weekly?

 

K – No, maybe I did 3 or 4 sessions a week that’s all but that would have been enough to enable you to make quite a good living so…

 

M – That’s all something that’s changed now isn’t it. I mean I don’t do that kind of work but from what I hear…

 

K – There’s not much of it around anymore is there?

 

M - I don’t think so, no

 

K – Everybody does shows now don’t they?

 

M – That’s right, yeah. Did you start leading any of your own groups at this time in the 70s or 60s?

 

K – My mind gets confused with all the different times!

 

M – Yeah there’s a lot – it’s a big period. I’m wondering who the first players you played with in your own group – who you chose to play with?

 

D– Didn’t you have a big band Ken? Broadcasting big band.

 

M – Oh you did an album didn’t you – ‘Song for Someone’.

 

K – Oh yeah that was with more of the free players yeah.

 

D – I think also he did a big band with musicians…

 

M – Before that? Wasn't that 1971?

 

D – Wasn’t it with Norma and…?

 

K – ‘Song for Someone’ it must’ve been about 71 or 73.

 

M – It is with Norma. Norma’s on that isn’t she. Maybe that’s the one.

 

D – yeah it might have been but I know he was in the studio – they did a broadcast once a week but I can’t remember who was in it. But it was a big band, which he more or less carries on now. They set it up for his birthday and the musicians have been very good – they played for nothing.

 

M – Yeah I know. It’s great. Fantastic.

 

D – Yeah, so I mean he has got a lot of good musicians he used years a go in the big band.

 

M – Yeah.

 

K – By then I’d met John and Norma so … I got involved in the Azimuth group you know.

 

D – That’s right yeah.

 

M – How did you meet them? Can you remember?

 

K – I met John I think, once in a rehearsal band with Alan Cohen. He had a rehearsal band in Ronnie’s old club and I went along to a rehearsal there and suddenly I heard this piano player and it was John Taylor and I thought it was fantastic. In the same band was Dave Holland – I couldn’t believe me ears I thought who are these two guys – where did they come from?

 

M – Actually if it was in Ronnie’s old place, that must’ve been – oh when did that close? In the 60s didn’t it? So that was in the mid 60s that you met them was it?

 

K – I guess it could’ve been, I don’t know I get confused with the times.

 

M – So you met John, Dave Holland and then Norma as well.

 

K – No Norma wasn’t in that band, but I think John must’ve eventually asked me to do something with the group Azimuth so…

 

M – Was that the – actually probably was that sextet before Azimuth - John’s sextet?

 

K – Yeah it was, but with Chris Pyne and Stan Sulzmann.

 

M – Yeah because Stan, when I interviewed Stan Sulzmann he mentioned the first time he met John was at a party by Gill – bass player, Gill Lyons would it be her name?

 

K – Oh yeah.

 

M – And he said he met John at the party and around that time which was 1971 I think (70-71) then John got his sextet together.

 

K – Oh ok yeah.

 

M – Which was in a way, modelled on, a bit like Herbie Hancock’s music at the time.

 

K – Yeah.

 

M – That’s the way Stan remembers that. Oh Stan also remembers doing a session with you. I don’t know whether he’s ever talked to you about this? The first time he met you was probably in the 60s, late 60’s at a pop session and it was just in – right in Central London – I’m not sure which studio and he said it was a pop session, a horn session. It was just you and him and you hadn’t met before at all and he didn’t know who you were and you didn’t know who he was. And you just said “I’m Ken” and “I’m Stan” and that was all they said to each other for 3 hours and then later found out you were Kenny Wheeler and then maybe 2 or 3 years later you started playing together. From what I remember Stan talking to me about it…

 

K – Yeah he’s probably right yeah.

 

D – He probably remembers more than you.

 

M – So that’s a whole other soundworld isn’t it, so when you started playing with John.

 

K – John Taylor you mean?

 

M – Yeah with John Taylor – and that was his music you were playing.

 

K – Well Azimuth, no we did a couple of my tunes, but mostly it was his music yeah.

 

M – Oh I was thinking of the sextet actually.

 

K – Oh no that was all John’s music yeah.

 

M – Yeah and then Azimuth came. In fact funnily enough, this is very coincidental because I was with Norma the other day at Dave Green’s – he had a surprise birthday party at the 606 on Monday. Dave was 70. And I was talking to Norma and she was telling me about Azimuth – that Manfred Eicher – that either John had sent a duo tape to Manfred or played him a duo tape and Manfred said “I think it would be good with a flugelhorn with that.” This is what Norma was telling me the other day.

 

K – Yeah that’s right.

 

M – I don’t know if you remember all this Kenny? So it sounds like Manfred Eicher had an influence on how that band came together as well. It was intriguing. And so you did a few albums with that band didn’t you?

 

K – Yeah we did yeah. And then when I got my own, my first album with ECM I’d already booked John to do it, but then Manfred said “Well I think it’d be much better for everybody if we had Keith Jarrett on this record.” So I couldn’t argue with that so I had to ring up John and say “Oh sorry John”. (Laughs).

 

M – You can’t argue with Manfred!

 

K – But then John went to see Manfred, took a trip to Munich and eventually got his own album out of that.

 

M – So which album was that? Was that Azimuth? I’m trying to think what came first. Did ‘Gnu High’ come before Azimuth?

 

K – I think it was before Azimuth that was in…

 

M – That was 75.

 

K – 75 yeah, must’ve been either before or around the same time.

 

M – But how did that happen for you, that ECM album in the first place?

 

K – Well I think Manfred must’ve been involved more in free music at that time and people like Evan I think must’ve told him about me and suggested he do something with me. So that’s why he booked me to do ‘Gnu High’.

 

M – That’s been an influential album on a lot of musicians.

 

K – Yeah so I’ve heard yeah.

 

M – It’s interesting that you wanted John to do it originally! What are your feelings about that recording now after all these years?

 

K – Oh it still sounds ok to me yeah. Still sounds quite fresh I think.

 

M – Yeah, great. Did you just do one day recording?

 

K – One day…

 

M – …recording or did you do two days?

 

K – Oh I can’t remember exactly it might’ve been over two days maybe yeah. One day for mixing.

 

M – Because I did hear, there is that story that goes around about Keith saying “No, I’ve finished now”. And you wanted to do another take – I don’t know how true that is, whether you could tell me if you can remember?

 

K – Nothing quite happened like that, but it might’ve happened once yeah.

 

M – Or that he only did one day and you were expecting him to do another day that’s it?

 

K – Yeah it might’ve been because he was very busy in those days Keith.

 

D – Well still is I suppose! I don’t know, I don’t think he was comfortable – I’m only going by… yeah I don’t think he too comfortable with all that.

 

M – Keith or Kenny?

 

D – No Keith, because he was so big I suppose.

 

M – His reputation? Yeah did that feel uncomfortable or…?

 

K – Sorry what’s that?

 

M – Did it feel uncomfortable that Keith was doing it?

 

K – Oh it did at first yeah. Because I knew already Dave Holland and John…

 

M – oh Jack?

 

K – Jack DeJohnette. I knew them already, but Keith was a bit, he was a little bit strange at first. He just walked into the studio and didn’t come over and say hello or anything, but then I heard him play – I think he plays fantastic on that record.

 

M – Yeah he plays great. But you hadn’t met him at all?

 

K –  Not before then no.

 

M – That’s probably the last thing he did with anybody else isn’t it? I have a feeling.

 

K – The small group/band thing yeah.

 

M – And so did that lead on to work for you? Did you tour with that project, that band?

 

K – No no we didn’t no.

 

M – Just did that album and that was it.

 

K – Just did the album and that was it yeah.

 

M – BuT that led on to some other albums for ECM under your own name did it?

 

K – Yeah I must’ve done 3 or 4 I think.

 

M – Yeah there’s ‘Deer Wan’ isn’t there.

 

K – Yeah that’s one.

 

M – And there’s… I can’t remember!

 

D – We’re relying on you.

 

M – (laughs) There’s the ones with Azimuth which are probably around the same time – I mean the 70s, 80s. There’s 3 or 4 with Azimuth aren’t there. But did that group tour?

 

K – With Azimuth – we never really, you couldn’t call it touring. We did the odd concert here and there but…

 

D – You talking about Azimuth?

 

M- Yeah.

 

D- You did do a big tour. We took the 2 kids.

 

K – Oh around Europe a bit yeah did we?

 

D – Yeah Europe, John and Norma’s 2 kids – Alex and Leo, bless them. And I looked after them.

 

M – Oh round Europe?

 

D – But I think it was a long tour – how many weeks do you think that was Ken?

 

K- Sorry?

 

D- How many weeks did we tour with Norma, John and the kids?

 

K – Oh it could never have been more than 2 or 3 weeks.

 

D – No I think it was more 3 weeks. Maybe a month. She didn’t want to leave them, you know …the natural..

 

M – Yeah.

 

D- …so we took them with us.

 

M – How did that work out?

 

D – Oh I was fine with them. It worked out pretty good didn’t it really? … and Ralph Towner and John Abercrombie?

 

M-Yeah.

 

D– they were the other half of the group – but like they played.

 

M – Oh there were 2 groups. Did ECM book that then? Did ECM sort that tour out?

 

K – Yeah that was Thomas Stowsand I think.

 

M – Oh yeah – he’s the promoter. I never knew him, but he used to work for ECM in the early days didn’t he?

 

K – Yeah he did yeah.

 

M – Oh ok. And you were also playing in Europe with the free improvisers as well?

 

K – Yeah I was still doing that yeah.

 

M – So was this quite a lot of travelling?

 

K – I did in the early days yeah.

 

D – Yeah it was one day home and then away again – literally. And then a couple of days…

 

M – And you went sometimes did you?

 

D – Sometimes, but I’m not a traveller! (Laughs). And we went to, we did, it wasn’t Globe Unity, what was the German thing with Evan – was it Globe Unity?

 

K – I think so yeah.

 

D – I think it was out East for 5 weeks.

 

M – 5 weeks?

 

K – Oh yeah we did a tour all around the world didn’t we.

 

D – More or less yeah.

 

K – India and Japan.

 

D – Japan, Korea – he smashed his trumpet!

 

M – You smashed your trumpet?

 

K- Sorry?

 

M- Doreen just said you smashed your trumpet on that tour.

 

K – I went through a revolving door and it cut the trumpet, it got smacked.

 

M – What in a soft case?

 

K – Yeah

 

D – You know what it was – we got there and he said “I don’t want to go tonight” and I said “you’ve got to go tonight – you’ve got to play with all these musicians and you know you’ve got to play tonight”.

“Oh alright” in a temper. We went through the revolving doors and… (laughs) his trumpet was squashed up!

 

M – What, it was in a hotel?

 

K – Yeah that was in Korea wasn’t it.

 

D – Yeah Korea

 

M – So what happened?

 

D – Were we in Seoul then or did they take us? They took us the next day to Seoul. Is it Seoul?

 

M – Yeah, the capital.

 

D – And I went, “Ken you can understand people who in countries there’s only us”. It was only me and him I think there, walking around – but they did it in that day.

 

M – They repaired it?

 

D – They did. One of the fellas took us, a Korean fella, took us to Seoul and then we had to walk around while they were doing it. We didn’t know what to do with ourselves.

 

K – Well everybody else was Chinese weren’t they, or whatever they were. We were the only 2 white people walking around.

 

M – That was an experience! That’s intriguing – a 5 week tour of a free improvising big band. That’s incredible.

 

K – Paid for by the Goethe Institute of Germany, you know.

 

M – Wow that’s progressive isn’t it?

 

D – And we didn’t have much money then and we thought we’d have to pay for the airfares for me. And they paid for everything.

 

M – What they paid for you as well?

 

D – Yeah airfares yeah. We didn’t know this so we were worried about the money. But yeah they paid for the whole thing.

 

M – So you were on the whole tour – 5 weeks?

 

D – 5 weeks yeah.

 

M – How was that?

 

D – Well I wish I could do again so I could see everything because I was so worried about money and things you know I just thought…. Oh I’m not dressing… I’ve got to buy clothes to... Mind you they didn’t bother about that. I enjoyed it but then I thought oh I wish I could do it again.

 

M – Do you know when it was roughly? Would that be 70s or 80s?

 

D – I think it was early – 70s I think.

 

K – It must have been 70s I think.

 

D – Because we lived here didn’t we. I think we’d not long moved here.

 

M – Did you live somewhere else before?

 

D – In Bethnal Green

 

M – Together?

 

D – I was born in Bethnal Green and when we got married we lived there. And then we moved here in 73 was it? 73.

 

K – To here? Yeah.

 

D – And we’ve been here ever since!

 

M – That’s nearly 40 years isn’t it.

 

D – Yeah. 

 

M – So all your music’s been composed in this house?

 

K – Most of it yeah.

 

D – In that room there (laughs)!

 

M – Have you got nice neighbours? Do they like you playing trumpet?

 

K – No I have a practice mute anyway. It’s a little mute that you stick in and nobody can hear it but yourself.

 

M – So you never practice full volume?

 

K – I do occasionally, I let loose!

 

D – We’ve never had complaints from our neighbours. We’ve lived in only 3 places and we’ve never had complaints about his practicing.

 

M-That’s nice

 

D- But I always warn people, when we move and when we come I will say to people. “He’s a musician, he has to practice.”

 

M – What did you think of playing free music for 5 weeks? Globe Unity, was anything written or was it all..?

 

K – Yeah some written parts, some graphic parts and sometimes we played with no music whatsoever – 12 people on the stage playing completely free.

 

M – Enjoy it?

 

K – I enjoyed some of it. I could have enjoyed it a lot more I think. Often too many people played all the time and you know what I mean – there wasn’t enough space left for anything. That was my only main complaint but I generally enjoyed the whole period of living at that time. Yeah.

 

M – During that period did you play with Anthony Braxton as well?

 

K – Well yeah that was, oh I don’t remember exactly, must’ve been the 70s I was playing with Braxton I think.

 

M – How was that experience?

 

K – Oh it was a great experience playing with him.

 

M – How did that come about? Had he just heard of you from somebody else?

 

K – Well no I think he came through London once and he had some music that he wanted some musicians to play it, so they must’ve phoned me and got me to go and play it. He must’ve been impressed with my attempt at trying to play it, so that’s when he decided to hire me.

 

M – Have you always been quite a good reader? Have you always practiced reading music.

 

K – Oh yeah, I was good at that time - reading.

 

M – Was that because you, did you practice reading or were you just in a lot of bands?

 

K – No I think I was just good at it yeah so…

 

M – And what was going on with your own groups then? I’m just trying to think, 70s, 80s, what groups would you have had then?

 

K – Well I never really had my own group. It’s only the last few years over here playing with Stan Sulzmann and Chris Laurence and John Taylor and Martin France. You could say that’s with my group I suppose but..

 

M – So before that, in the past you didn’t think you had your own group so much?

 

K – No I didn’t no.

 

M – But you were…

 

K – I played with other people yeah.

 

M – But you were recording. For instance, you had albums under your own name? So were they groups just for the recording?

 

K – Mostly yeah.

 

M – For instance any of those albums, like ‘Deer Wan’, did you tour with that group with Jan Garbarek?

 

K – No I didn’t tour with that group.

 

M – Was that Manfred Eicher’s idea, that particular line-up?

 

K – The ‘Deer Wan’ line-up? Yeah I think he suggested Jan Garbarek. He played great too on that record yeah.

 

M – Was that the only time you played with him?

 

K – I did play with him once after that record. Once I went to Norway to play with him I think.

 

M – What for a concert?

 

K – Yeah yeah.

 

M – So you had those small group albums and then you recorded a large group – ‘Music for Large and Small Ensembles’ – that’s the name of that album isn’t it? 20 years a go – 1990,1989?

 

K – Must’ve been I think yeah.

 

M – Yeah around that time, I remember seeing that group. It did tour didn’t it? That large one?

 

K – Yeah we did a tour in England.

 

M – Could you describe anything about your practice routine?

 

K – Well I still have a basic warm-up, which I still do every day. It takes me about 1 hour and a half or 2 hours. That’s just for trumpet practice, to keep my lip in. Because I am not working so much any more I have to spend a lot of time practicing to keep level, you know, otherwise you quickly fall back.

 

M – And after that, what else do you practice?

 

K – Oh maybe I’d spend a bit of time trying to compose something or write a tune.

 

M – But that’s on the piano?

 

K – I use the piano a little bit yeah.

 

M – So that’s away from the trumpet.

 

K – Yeah it’s a separate thing really yeah.

 

M – So you don’t practice improvising on the trumpet at all?

 

K – Well no, as I said I might sometimes take a little 4 note series and try and play it in different keys but that’s about all.

 

M – What albums that you’ve recorded, either yours or other people’s have you been particularly happy with?

 

K – Well mine, ‘Music for Large and Small Ensembles’ I suppose. The last one I did which came out a few months ago, I think that’s very good.

 

M – Which one’s that?

 

K – It’s on CAM. Came out about October I think.

 

M – Ok is that the big band one?

 

K – Yeah it’s a normal English band.

 

M – Oh ok. That’s the one where they all got together and did it for nothing.

 

D – We did the studio, I think CAM paid for the studio and the musicians played and I think they just got a little thing for it, which we appreciate so much.

 

M – Yeah that’s a lovely thing to do.

 

K – I enjoyed your record by the way, that I played this morning – it’s with a guitar player.

 

D – We’ve listened to your record, Mark gave it to us.

 

M – Oh the new one – ‘Two Not One’ with Colin Oxley.

 

K – Oh is that Colin Oxley – good player isn’t he.

 

M – He’s lovely yeah. He’s a fantastic player.

 

D – We were listening to it, I don’t know what these two do and we put it on and it was great. We haven’t listened to it all actually.

 

M – That’s alright!

 

K – Yeah we did listen to it all.

 

D – Oh did you listen to it all? Oh great, ok, I know I was busy around the house, but it was great – really nice.

 

M – Thanks. Yeah I’ve been playing with Colin for quite a while and it was about time we recorded so we did that a year or so a go.

 

K – Yeah he’s a really good player isn’t he?

 

M – He’s a fantastic player - he’s like a whole rhythm section.

 

K – He sure is yeah.

 

M – But he’ll be pleased to hear that I’ll tell him, I’m seeing him soon. I’ll tell him you said that.

 

K – And your playing sounds good too. You obviously like Lee Konitz I can hear that.

 

M – Oh thanks.

 

K – Did you send a copy to Lee?

 

M – No, do you think I should?

 

K – Yeah why not yeah.

 

M – I mean I like him, but I don’t think I sound that much like him. I obviously play a couple of those Tristano tunes on there – ‘Two not One’ and ‘Ablution’. But what I like about him is he’s very committed to improvising. And you’ve played with him a bit haven’t you.

 

K – Yeah I love his playing, really yeah.

 

M – Yeah I love that quartet album ‘Angel Song’.

 

K – Oh yeah yeah.

 

M – That band did do a few gigs didn’t it – or not? Yeah I think there was one here, I didn’t see it.

 

K - With Bill Frisell you mean?

 

M – Yeah and Dave Holland, did you play any concerts with that?

 

K – I don’t think with that actual group we did I don’t think. Oh we did here I think yeah.

 

M – Was that Manfred’s idea that line-up, or was that yours?

 

K – No I got in touch with him I think when I wanted to do another record and I’d said that I’d like to do something with Dave Holland and John Taylor. And he thought that was a good idea, but he suggested adding Bill Frisell to the group. Then the idea came to add Lee Konitz so that’s how that happened.

 

M – But John didn’t do it, so it changed.

 

K – Sorry?

 

M – The line-up changed then from what you suggested – John didn’t do it.

 

K – Yeah it was guitar instead of piano. Yeah.

 

M – But have you recorded in that line-up? Because you record for other labels now don’t you? Or you have done.

 

K – For the CAM label yeah

 

M – You recorded with John for that label.

 

K – Yeah I think we’ve done 2 duo albums. I did one with Dave Holland and Chris Potter and John Taylor was on that yeah.

 

M – What are you listening to these days? What music?

 

K – I don’t know, we’ve got one of these Bose systems that make everything sound so good. But I just try to listen to what’s happening here.

 

D – Our trouble is that he can’t get out to concerts too much.

 

M – Yeah. Not so mobile.

 

D – Both of us can’t walk too far, unless one of the children comes with us it’s hard to get out. So we don’t see as many concerts as he’d like to.

 

M – You can listen indoors though – listen to music. But you’ve often gone to a lot of gigs. I remember you in the past. You go to hear music live a lot.

 

K – Yeah I like to do that, if I can get out yeah.

 

M – I remember you came last time when the London Jazz Orchestra played one of your pieces at The Vortex.

 

K – Oh yeah I remember that yeah. With Scott Stroman, that was a good night that was.

 

M – Yeah Scott was conducting.

 

D – Is that where we met you?

 

M – No I’m trying to think of the first time, I can’t remember the first time, but we’ve met 2 or 3 times. In fact, it was a pub round here. Nick Smart, Liam Noble and me – I came and Sara my partner came and you and Kenny were in the pub.

 

D –  (Laughs).

 

M – No we were altogether I can’t remember which pub it was – very close to here.

 

D – Was it the (unintelligible) of Kent?

 

M – On the big main road, a big pub - I can’t remember it was a few years a go – 3 or 4 years ago maybe.

 

D – What’s the name of the pub we play, or you play at sometimes.

 

K – The Rookwood?

 

M – No it wasn’t there.

 

D – What’s the other one? There was one on the corner…

 

M – There’s no music there, it’s just a big pub on the main road. Oh I’ve forgotten the name of it. But I don’t know whether that was the first time I met you, because I have met you a few different places. Probably when Nikki’s been around as well – Nikki Iles.

 

D – Probably yeah because she’s such a good friend. Anyway, whatever…

 

M – Do you listen to a lot of classical music Kenny?

 

K – Yeah I do I like it. Chris Laurence just gave me the William Walton violin concerto and that’s fantastic yeah.

 

M – Does all this music feed into your own compositions do you think in anyway?

 

K – Oh well you don’t know what rubs off on yourself do you.

 

M – I was going to say, is there anything specific where you think – oh, that sounds fantastic I’d like to use that. Whatever it is. Whether it’s a chord, or a sequence or a feeling, have you ever done that in a deliberate way do you think?

 

K – No just feelings of things that’s all.

 

M – Yeah. Have you got any other plans for recording or any more concerts?

 

K – I think I have a concert in May in Hamburg, Germany.

 

M – Your project or another…?

 

K – It’s a big band thing yeah.

 

M – All your music?

 

K – Yeah it’ll be mine

 

M – But with German players

 

K – I guess so yeah

 

M – Is it new music you’re writing for it?

 

K – No it’s music that would probably have been on the recent recording.

 

M – Well oh ok. Well we can stop there if you want, because I don’t want to tire you both out.

 

D – You’re not tiring me out.

 

K – Sorry I’m not too clear on times and things.

 

M – Yeah I mean it’s about quarter to nine you know.

 

D – Whatever you want to ask him!  Do you want to know anything else about his life?

 

M – I mean probably when I go away I’ll think of another question, but at the moment.

D – Come back! Anytime.

 

M – Well I did do Stan Sulzmann twice! When I interviewed Stan I did it at the Academy and we were talking, it must’ve been an hour or an hour and 15 minutes and we got up to the age of 20 year’s old in his life! (Laughs). It was great – one question and he was off. It was fantastic. A mine of information. So then we did another one. And when I interviewed Henry Lowther it was 2 and ¾ hours in one go…

 

D –Henry. Yes!

 

M- and that was fantastic as well – they’ve all been great, all the interviews. These people I mentioned have been collaborators with you for a long time haven’t they – Stan for 40 years…

 

K Oh yeah.

 

M- and Henry as well.

 

K – Henry yeah.

 

D – Yeah, we’ve known them for years yeah.

 

M – I’m always intrigued by how people practice and pretty much most people that I’ve spoken to, apart from Dave Cliff and Geoff Simkins who come much more from Tristano method – those guys transcribed solos. But Stan said he never really did. Henry said he did a little bit but not much and it’s the same as you. It seems that this generation of players didn’t do that so much as people do it now. And it’s interesting because maybe, there’s no right or wrong to this, but you’re all very original players and sometimes I think maybe because of the not transcribing much – it’s possible that you become more original. I don’t know the answer to that really. I don’t know what you think about that Ken – you probably play with people, younger players who have done a lot of that. I’d have thought maybe Chris Potter has done a lot of transcribing. I don’t know, but I get the impression he might’ve done.

 

K – Yeah so do I. Yeah.

 

M – I’m wondering whether you think it makes any difference?

 

K – Well there’s so many music schools nowadays isn’t there. And they probably tell the students it’s good to transcribe things.

 

M – I mean I do, I suggest to people it’s a good idea. It’s a way of discovering what’s going on in the music. But you don’t have a particular feeling about it. You’re not particularly for or against it? Are you particularly – do you think it’s a good idea?

 

K – No generally I think it’s a good idea for other people, I don’t know about me though. (Laughs).

 

M –  (Laughs).Yeah you have to get what feels right for you.

 

D – So where do you teach Martin?

 

M – I teach at Trinity with Simon Purcell, do you know Simon?

 

K – Oh yeah.

 

M - You know Simon don’t you. He’s the head of the jazz course there. He’s very good actually.

 

K – Bobby Lamb is not the head anymore is he?

 

M – No actually he was never the head he just ran a big band there.

 

K – Oh ok.

 

M – Issie Barratt, a woman called Issie Barratt was the head, but Simon’s been doing it for about 7 years now I think. He’s very good.

 

K – He’s a good player Simon isn’t he.

 

M – Yeah he plays good. He was at the Guildhall before teaching there and then he got offered this job. He’s done well. Lots of good players come out of that college. It’s nice – I like teaching there. And I learn a lot about teaching.

 

D – Exactly, I think so yeah. But he doesn’t like teaching.

 

M – Have you ever done any teaching Ken?

 

D- He don’t like it.

 

K – I did, years ago I taught at Banff in Canada.

 

M – Oh I was there when you were there one year – in 1990. I was there.

 

K – Oh ok.

 

M –Do you ever teach private lessons?

 

K – Nobody ever asks. I probably would if they asked (Laughs).

 

M – I’ll have to mention it some people then. And they’d all be coming round.

 

K – Well.

 

M- There’d be queues.

 

D – People get out of him what he’s played so… I hope we’ve been some help to you tonight.

 

M – It’s been great. I appreciate you letting me come round - it’s nice!

 

K – I haven’t been too clear on my time things, it’s all like the last 40 years is a bit of a blur to me.

 

M – That’s ok. I don’t think there’s anything else, I mean there might be another time I might think of asking something but we can finish now, it’s fine. We don’t want to get too tired – all of us.

 

D – You must be tired as well. Working all day.

 

K – Have you been teaching today?

 

M – I’ve been running around, yeah I was teaching. I did a couple of one to ones, then I had a group but we just had a play, which was nice. And then I had to go into town and pick my saxophone up which had just been overhauled. And then rushed back and then come here – yeah it’s been a bit of a long day.

 

K – What part of town do you live in?

 

M – Well I live in Barnet as well at the moment, which is North.

 

K – Where?

 

M – Barnet.

 

K – That’s quite a long way.

 

D – That’s near Mark isn’t it?

 

M – Where does he live?

 

K – East Sheen.

 

M – Oh no that’s near Putney. No Barnet’s near Finchley, North London.

 

K – Oh it’s the North.

 

M – It’s round the North Circular. I just go round the North Circular so it’s fine. But I’m moving to Abbey Wood, which is in South East London - hopefully this month soon. So that’ll be nearer Greenwich. But this is actually quite near Greenwich – it wasn’t too bad for me. Just come in on the A12 up the road – it’s close. It was fine.

 

D – We don’t drive so I don’t know!

 

M – Oh well you know what I’m talking about (laughs) – the A12. It’s less than half an hour a way. Ok I’m going to finish now. So thanks very much to Kenny…

 

K – Oh you’re welcome.

 

M - …and Doreen for letting me in your home.

 

D – I don’t mean to talk tonight – but I’ve had a glass of wine!

 

M – No it’s good that you did. I’ll interview you now!