On his latest album, Canadian bassist Duncan Hopkins celebrates the music of trumpeter and composer Kenny Wheeler.
While his past recordings have consisted almost entirely of original material, Hopkins’ seventh solo album, titled Who Are You? The Music of Kenny Wheeler, features tunes written or inspired by his mentor.
The band includes the guitar talents of Reg Schwager and Ted Quinlan along with drummer Michel Lambert. All four of the musicians worked with Ken Wheeler at some point in their careers, and know his music well.
Most of the repertoire was sourced from Wheeler’s recordings, with the exception of the final three tracks: a suite by Hopkins himself, written at Wheeler’s suggestion. Hopkins had a handwritten copy of a piece Wheeler wrote for a six-guitar group from Buffalo that had never been recorded. Scrawled on the first page was a message from Wheeler: “This could be a part of the St. Catharines Suite, if it is any good.” Hopkins then took a piece of Wheeler’s from a 1976 CBC recording called Kitts — the nickname for the city they both grew up in, 40 years apart. He completed the suite with an original of his own called “Montebello,” the name of the park where Wheeler and Hopkins met.
Hopkins has has recorded a total of eight albums as a leader or co-leader and has worked with luminaries including Norma Winstone, Bobo Stenson, Houston Person, Ed Bickert, Peter Appleyard, Jeremy Pelt and Diana Krall. He was the bassist for Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass for the final four years of the band, and was a member of the storied Canadian Jazz Quartet for 12 years. He can be heard on more than 50 albums and numerous CBC, BBC and NPR recordings. He is a visiting professor of jazz at the Royal Academy of Music in London, U.K., and is a long-standing tutor for the Global Music Foundation.
Here’s the track listing:
- Who Are You?
- Foxy Trot
- We Salute the Night
- Mark Time
- Salina St.
Duncan Hopkins’ Who Are You? The Music of Kenny Wheeler is out May 26, 2023, via TPR Records.