Ken Wiley: Jazz Horn Redux
by George W. Harris • December 14, 2017
The French Horn is rarely given a chance in jazz circles; usually there’s a problem with either dynamics or dexterity, so it’s relegated to being a “section” instrument, unless it’s in the right hands (and mouth). Ken Wiley shows how it can be accomplished with a collection of all stars including “Trey Henry (b), Kendall Kay (dr), Wally Minko (p) and guests ranging from Bob Sheppard (ts-ss), Chuck Findley (tp) and Dan Higgins (w/winds to name just a few).
Wiley wisely emphasizes jazz standards here, and it works amazingly well. Two tunes form Kind of Blue, “All Blues” and “Freddie Freeloader (sic)” feature Wiley’s sweet tone as well as Grant’s hip open trumpet on the former and “muted on the latter. Wiley melds well with Higgins’ flue on a delightfully floating “Little Sunflower” and with extra percussion from Luis Conte, “Corcovado” glistens like a golden sunset. Wiley shows his muscles on the bopping “Oleo” and the Caribbean “Morning” is a celebrative delight. Some funky and soulful grooves have Minko’s keyboards team with Sheppard’s soprano on the toe tapping “Freedom Jazz Dance.” Strong outing; how does he sound in concert?